Mind your Klingon

Klingon Style

Why learn French when you could learn Klingon? The language created more than 30 years ago for the Star Trek race of long-haired warriors has moved boldly into pop culture where few other alien tongues have gone before. With a new book about the classic Klingon starship, Bird-of-Prey, and a Klingon spoof of the Gangnam Style music video racking up millions of views on YouTube, Klingons are showing a fun side that outstrips their Trekkies fan base.

With their high-ridged foreheads, starships that boast cloaking devices and strict code of honor, Klingons are rivalling Mr. Spock's Vulcans in the language and popularity stakes. "Klingons are these big, mean tough warrior guys, but they are also funny, so it is fun to behave like a Klingon," said Marc Okrand, who created the guttural language and compiled the first Klingon dictionary in 1985. Okrand, a Washington, DC-based linguist, also created the Vulcan and Romulan dialogue for the 2009 feature film Star Trek. But he says neither language has caught the imagination of fans or the wider public the way Klingon has.

"Vulcan didn't catch on, probably because Vulcans aren't as much fun as Klingons. They are much more serious. The Klingons let loose and the Vulcans don't," Okrand told Reuters. "People do ask me, when are you going to make a Vulcan dictionary? And the answer is, when they jabber more in Vulcan," he added.


Despite a tiny vocabulary of just 2,000 to 3,000 words, Klingon is the most spoken fictional language in the world, according to Guinness World Records. And last month saw a Swedish couple tie the knot in a Klingon wedding ceremony at London's Star Trek convention.

There is already a Klingon Language Institute, Klingon translations of Shakespeare's Hamlet and the Book of Mormon, a Klingon version of the board game Monopoly, a Dutch opera sung in Klingon, an annual Klingon staging of A Christmas Carol in Chicago, and a guided tour of Australia's famous Jenolan caves near Sydney, conducted entirely in Klingon.

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