Kontext describes the "situation" or the "surrounding" of an event, making clear what the meaning of a phrase is. Not only Klingon, but also English can have phrases that are not clear when standing alon: "He is flying." Does it mean he is piloting an airplane? Or maybe he is a bird?


In Klingon, context is very often much more important than in English.


Many nouns end using the type 9 suffix -wI' something/someone which does (1). Usually, the translation is clear, like a SuvwI' warrior , but there are several situations, where the meaning is not a hundred percent clear: The word ghItlhwI' writer could be a "device to write" (a pen) or a "person who writes" (a scribe). Only context makes it clear. Such words also exist in English. [citation needed]

Aspect and time

The phrase jItlhutlh has no "time indication" so can mean I drink but also I drank or I will drink . The Klingon does not know any tense like in English, only aspect, which indicates the completion of an action. The example shown before must be regarded in its context to know what is going on. This can easily be done using a time stamp:

wa'leS jItlhutlh Tomorrow I will drink.
DaHjaj jItlhutlh I drink today.
cha'Hu' jItlhutlh I was drinking yesterday.

Two Names in apposition

When two nouns appear in apposition, it is sometimes no clear if it is a real apposition, or just a noun-noun-construction. qeylIS loDnI' standing alone can be Brother Kahless (apposition) or Kahless' brother (noun-noun-construction). Only additional information, like saying that you talk about the brother or repeating his name, will explain which is the case.


Many words in Klingon are spelled indentically being a noun and a verb, sometimes even being the same word type with two meanings. Only context can make the meaning clear.

The word Dabej could be made of the verb Da and the suffix -bej - meaning "he obviously behaves like it" - or made of the prefix Da- and the verb bej, meaning "you are watching at it". An added object or subject makes the meaning clear: Dabej ghaH and Dabej SoH are inambiguous.


1 : The Klingon Dictionary S. 43

Category: Grammar    Latest edit: 11 Apr 2017, by MarcZankl    Created: 28 Dec 2016 by KlingonTeacher

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