Monday, August 7, 2006


nuqneH is Klingon for "Hello"... sort of. It more literally translates as "What do you want?" It may be roughly transliterated as nook-NECH.

The Klingon language is an artificial language created for the Star Trek movies. It is not proper to refer to it as a "fictional language", since it is a full-fledged language, albeit with few (if any) native speakers. (However, the Vulcan language seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a true fictional language, lacking true syntax and word-for-word translations.) Google is available in Klingon.

You might wonder the point of learning words in a fictional language. Other than the fact that it makes certain parts of Star Trek easier to understand, the Klingon language was designed by a linguist (Mark Okrand) who placed several interesting features into the language, including a syntax that reverses most human languages, a few non-English sounds (some are drawn from German, Yiddish, or Aztec; others are variations on existing sounds), a systems of prefixes and suffixes that handles word transformation quite differently than English, and hints of a non-base 10 mathematical system. Frankly, Okrand's The Klingon Dictionary is better than most high school English classes in explaining language and syntax. (All the same, I'll try to make this my last entry on an artificial language for a while.)

A few useful Klingon phrases (if such a thing exists):
Qapla' (kkhap-LA): "Success". Often used as a parting blessing. If you only know one word in Klingon, this is the one to know: It is used frequently in every Star Trek series since 1987.

ghoBe' (gho-BE): No.

HIja' (khi-JA): Yes.

HISlaH (khish-LAKH): Yes (alternative spelling/pronunciation).

Qo'noS (Kronos): The Klingon homeworld.

tlhIngan Hol vIjatlhlaHbe' (TLIngon khol vi-JATL-lakh-BE): I cannot speak Klingon.

nuqdaq 'ocH puchpa''e' (NOOK-dak okh pooch-PA-e): Where is the bathroom?

I refuse to admit how much of the above came from memory.

Reference works on the subject:

The Klingon Dictionary by Marc Okrand
The Klingon Way by Marc Okrand
Klingon for the Galactic Traveler by Marc Okrand
Conversational Klingon (audio CD) by Marc Okrand and Michael Dorn
The Klingon Hamlet by Lawrence Shoen and the Klingon Language Institute.

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