Thursday, July 23, 2009

Worst Case Scenario

QIb vo' Hegh
Shadow of death

podcast version

Murphy's law spells out the pessimist's creed: if something can go wrong, it will. Some find an odd comfort in this "expect the worst" philosophy. With it, you'll never be disappointed - the worst that can happen is that you will be happily surprised if things turn out okay.

But I think merely expecting the worst isn't going far enough. Better is doing what David works through in Psalm 23 - the worst case scenario and how to be ready for it.

David looks to the good Shepherd, not merely to solve temporal problems like food and drink, guidance and safety. Whatever good the Lord provides for this life, David does not expect it to forestall the absolute worst:

The QIb vo' Hegh, the shadow of death

The Klingon words QIb (shadow) and Hegh (death) are used here for the Hebrew term tsalmaveth, traditionally rendered "the shadow of death," a phrase that captures just how this dark cloud hangs over all of us. The Bible says it simply " is appointed for men to die..." (Hebrews 9:27) Yet the response here in Psalm 23 is not despair, but confidence that this final passage is not to be feared, if we are accompanied by this shepherd who truly walks alongside us.

Notice that in this verse something important changes. The previous verses speak about the shepherd - he does this, he does that. But in this verse David speaks directly to him:

I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

Death's QIb, its shadow, looms over all of us - no exceptions. In reviewing our options, our plans, this is what we must all be prepared for. Medicine, wealth, or position will not keep us from it. There is no castle or protection that will ultimately keep it away.

But we do not have to enter that last frontier alone. If we go with the one who has gone through it himself, we need fear no evil. For with the one who has conquered death by our side, that path through the shadows can, and will, be the path to victory.

originally podcast 4/7/05


Möbius said...
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Möbius said...

-vo' means "from", as in away from, and is a suffix, not a stand-alone word. Klingon doesn't have as many prepositions as English does - one word in Klingon covers several of them or a preposition might be implied. The best translation here might be a compound noun:

Hegh QIb - Death's shadow, or the shadow of death.
Hegh QIb ngech - death's shadow's valley, or the valley of the shadow of death.

Joel said...

Thanks for your comment, and you're quite right. The UTA project ( uses a pretty simpleminded translation process - eventually I do intend to use the work I've done on the Universal Translator Assistant tool for doing translations. However, the UTA tool in its current form is more for demonstration than translations. It is useful for for entertainment value, not linguistic purity. The translations it generates resemble a pidgin-Klingon; a Klingon vocabulary mixed with English grammar. It would not be surprising (if there REALLY were Klingons) for such a dialect to exist in an environment where there was lively human-Klingon commerce.

Since the translation table used is rigid (one English word to one Klingon word) there are often laughable confusions.

Möbius said...

Well, I guess it would be hard not to have a pidgin; native speakers of Klingon are hard to find. You might find this resource helpful:

If you don't already have a rendering, I might try my hand at translating a selection of Ephesians 6.