Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Learning the Klingon language? Why not?


People who know me, also know that I am a huge Star Trek fan!! And I am a linguist as well. I teach, I learn, I translate, I do research.

What is more natural for me to learn tlhIngan Hol' (Klingon)?

I know that most of you don't know what that is! Klingon is one of the constructed languages in the world, that has an alphabet, a grammar and actual speakers. Other constructed languages include Esperanto and High Valyrian (in Game of Thrones)

It was first mentioned in Star Trek Original Series episode "The trouble with Tribbles" in 1967 but a few of its phrases were only heard in "Star Trek: The motion picture" in 1979. 

According to the actor who spoke the lines, Mark Lenard, James Doohan (Scotty) recorded the lines he had written on a tape, and Lenard (Spok) transcribed the recorded lines in a way he found useful in learning them. (Wikipedia)

Marc Okrand was actually the linguist who developed the language and also wrote the Klingon dictionary.

Fan fact: There are at least 9 translations of world works of literature in the Klingon language including Shakespeare's Hamlet and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz!

There is actually a Klingon language Institute nowadays, and you can also learn Klingon in the Duolingo app.


I started learning the language just because I love Star Trek and one of my favourite characters is Worf (wo'rIv). I found it really fascinating that an artificial language can have vocabulary that makes sense and a structured grammar and syntax. 
It is really difficult to learn to pronounce the sounds and it is even more difficult to write in the actual Klingon alphabet:

What I am finding really fascinating is the syntax: 

For example, in a simple sentence, the verb comes first and then the subject:

HoH (kills) HoD (the captain) : The captain kills

Also the Object comes first. This means that the structure of a simple Subject verb Object sentence will be:
jagh (the enemy) HoH (kills) HoD the captain: The captain kills / killed the enemy

If we have an adverb, then it comes on top:
batlh (honorably) jagh (the enemy) HoH (kills) HoD (the captain): The captain killed the enemy honorably.

From what I have understood, there are no verb tenses.

Here are also the basic personal pronouns which become a compound word with the basic form of the verb: 

for example 
jIQong (I sleep)


vIqIp ( I killed him)

There's so much more to learn and I just can't wait!

batlh Qapla' je'

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