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Klingons from Star Trek aren't very polite, and the language developed for them reflects that - they don't exactly have many polite ways to say things. The closest think I've found to a polite greeting is "Nuq'nuh", which translates to "What do you want?", which... isn't very polite, IMO.

Is there any way to approximate a polite greeting in Klingon?

13

This answer is based largely on my copy of The Klingon Dictionary (written by Marc Okrand, who created Klingon), which is reliable and good if you need a quick translation from English to Klingon or vice-versa. I'm going to cover most of the same ground as rotaredom's answer, just in more detail.

The book notes that there aren't really any greetings in Klingon; they're simply unnecessary. Klingon as a language is somewhat utilitarian in its application, and exchanges typically start with a straightforward statement or query by one party. Saying the Klingon equivalent of "How are you doing?" when you just want to figure out the new ship's departure time is simply wasteful. One answer to your question, then, would be to simply avoid a greeting. The less you talk, the less time you take up. That said, if you want to truly greet someone, you have two options. . .

Choice 1: Be utilitarian.

This utilitarianism is why all Klingon "greetings" are just introductory phrases. "nuqneH" is the one that seems to be commonly used, as rotaredom said. Its translation is "What do you want?" "Nuq" itself can be treated as an interrogative sentence on its own, simply meaning "What?"1. It can also be used as the start of a sentence, such as

nuq legh yaS

which means

What does the officer see?

Additionally, "neH" is used as a form of "to want" (though it also used as an adverbial, to mean "only"). Therefore, we have the compound "nuqneH", properly an exclamation that stands by itself as a sentence.

Choice 2: Use an honorific.

The Dictionary notes that "neS" is the only honorific suffix in Klingon, used as part of larger words. For instance, "qaleghneS", coming from "qa" ("you"), "legh" ("see") and "neS", translates to

I am honored to see you.

This states a fact, and gets to the point. It may be used towards a superior, but this is not mandatory, and I don't think it's commonly used. If you wish to open the conversation with an inquiry, "HIja'neS" (which includes "HIja", normally used as an affirmative) can work. Its translation is

Do me the honor of telling me [about something].

Again, use this when asking a superior something, but only if you really want to be respectful.

Miscellaneous

Though I have yet to see any of the following used as a greeting, I imagine you could modify them to create some sort of opening remark.

  • "bel" is the verb for "to be pleased", so when greeting someone, you could conceivably say "jIbel" ("I am pleased", with "jI" for first-person). Likewise, "Quch" is the verb for "to be happy". Using "jIbel" or "jiQuch" to indicate satisfaction upon meeting someone is a possibility.
  • "maj" ("Good") or "majQa'" ("Well done") are exclamations used as praise. You could use these - preferably "majQa'" - when welcoming an inferior who has successfully completed a task, like blowing up an enemy spaceship.
  • "toH" is another exclamation, meaning "Well!" or "So!" You would use this in, for instance, a sentence like

    Well! I didn't expect to see you back alive.


1 Appending "Daq", to make "nuqDaq", yields "Where?"

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According to klignonwiki.net, there isn't an exact equivalent, but you do have a few options:

  • nuqneH: It's the only word that could literally be called a greeting, but literally it means, "What do you want?" It's possible as a conversation starter, though. (Also indicated by kli.org.)

  • qavan: Litterally, "Salute." It's actually the imperative, meaning that it could come across sounding like an order. It's a possibility, though, similar to the Greeks who greet one another with the imperative form of "Rejoice!"

  • qaleghneS: Literally, "I am honoured to meet you." It was used by Riker in The Emissary.

All in all, probably the best supported one is nuqneH, which kli.org states is the Traditional Greeting.

  • 1
    How reliable is klingonwiki.net as a source? – Rand al'Thor Feb 6 '18 at 21:19
  • @Randal'Thor good question: I don't know, but I'll add some more official sources. – rotaredom Feb 6 '18 at 21:20

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