By Pearson Jones, Asst. Style Editor

Star Trek is not just for geeks anymore. J.J. Abrams recent resurrection of the Star Trek franchise proved that. Capturing the attention of a whole new generation of trekkies, Abram’s installment beamed up younger fans to the Enterprise who were just being introduced to Captain James T. Kirk for the first time.

This new fan base, combined with the diehard fans that have been rocking the Vulcan salute for over 40 years now, can be attributed to the large turnout alien language designer Marc Okrand received from George Mason University last Friday.

Okrand is the designer behind the alien language Klingon used in many of the Star Trek films. The veteran linguist is also responsible for developing the language used in the Disney animated film Atlantis. A god to those familiar with the franchise, Okrand unveiled the secrets of Klingon to a waving room of Vulcan salutes and anxious fans.

James Doohan, the actor who played Scotty in the television series, came up with the idea of Klingon orginally.

Okrand took it one step further though in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Actually, make that two Klingon Dictionaries, several Shakspeare plays translated into the alien language and one Klingon Language Institute further.

What started out as just a few phrases developed into a functional language. A language only some of the most hardcore Trek fans can claim to know.

Klingon, known as tlhlngan Hol to Klingon natives, is unlike anything ever spoken.

Vowels and constants are used in the language according to Okrand but are the only familiar grammar aspects English speakers will recongnize.

There are emphasized gaps in words, apostrophes are letters instead of punctuation marks and there are random capitalized letters inside of words.

If those rules don’t confuse novice Klingon speakers then Okrand’s decision to eliminate all K’s in the language will. Good luck spelling Klingon.

Okrand defended this decision with the excuse that “K’s are always at the beginning of words that are used to describe bad things in movies.”

The Klingon language is even harder to pronounce then it is to learn. So despite the many groups of people who identify it as a real language, people are still probably better of trying to talk in Latin to each other then Klingon.



  1. Alex Greene says:

    Nice and succinct. i like this article.

    One minor quibble – the word is “consonants,” not “constants.”

    I’m one of the few people who can speak Klingon. Being able to speak Welsh, it would seem, has its advantages.

  2. Steven W. Lytle says:

    Proofreading before posting would have helped a lot, e.g., “constants” > “consonants”, “then” > “than”, “of” > “off”, “Shakspeare” > “Shakespeare”.

  3. vIghro' says:

    And here I was looking forward to a really good and musch more detailed article. Oh well. Mr. Jones, you obviously have no clue that those uppercase letters are far from random. Mark did one heck of a job creating tlhIngan Hol (and other languages). Of course it would be confusing to a newbie. It is to me too, but isn’t ANY language confusing when you are new to it? You think tlhIngan Hol is difficult? Try any dialect of Chinese.
    By the way,
    It would have been nice to hear some of the things Mark Okrand said to those students.
    Did anyone record it?