Klingon language

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Klingon (tlhIngan Hol)
Project author Marc Okrand
Year of publication 1984
speaker Estimates range from 20 to a few thousands, depending on the definition of a speaker.
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


Text sample
taH pagh taH be ' . DaH mu'tlhegh vam vI qel nIS . quv 'a' , yab Daq San vaQ cha pu ' je SIQ DI' ? pagh , Seng bIQ'a ' Hey Suv meH nuH mey Suq DI' , 'ej , Suv mo' , rIn moH DI ' ? Hegh . Qong . - ( Hamlet , 3rd act, 1st scene )

Klingon (own name: tlhIngan Hol [ ˈt͡ɬɪŋɑn xol ]) is a constructed language that was created in 1984 by Marc Okrand for the Paramount film company for the Klingons , an alien species in the Star Trek universe. Foreign peoples in science fiction films mostly spoke meaningless gibberish , but the producers of Star Trek wanted to use a language with a realistic background so that the use in the various films would be consistent with one another. Fans of the series, but also linguists, picked up the language and began to learn and actively speak it. The Klingon Language Institute (KLI) is concerned with the preservation, protection and dissemination of the language. The Klingon Dictionary , written by Okrand, is the standard work and the basis of grammar .


Marc Okrand (2008 in Leipzig)


The first Klingon terms were suggested for the first Star Trek film in 1979 by James Doohan , who played Scotty . When more Klingon dialogue was needed for the movie Star Trek III: In Search of Mr. Spock , Marc Okrand was hired to work out the language. He started with the first terms from 1979. In order to give the language as foreign a sound as possible, Okrand decorated it with many tongue twisters. Since the Klingons are a warlike people, their language usage is correspondingly harsh. In greeting they say (if anything) nuqneH , which literally means 'What do you want?' called. The only known word to say goodbye is Qapla ' , which means' success'. Marc Okrand is in close contact with the KLI and its members. He gives them new vocabulary at irregular intervals.

CBS or its subsidiary Simon & Schuster hold as publishing the copyright to the official dictionaries and canonical language description. Their claim to the language itself has been questioned, but has not yet been the subject of legal disputes.

The language code registered with the IANA for the Klingon language is i-klingonthe ISO-639-2 code tlh.


On the Klingon homeworld, the planet Qo'noS (Kronos), different ethnic groups and different languages existed until the founding of the empire by the mythical founder Kahless . In the course of the agreement, the need to come to an understanding gave rise to the tlhIngan Hol . Ancient forms of the Klingon language are preserved as no 'Hol (language of the ancestors) in the ceremonial language, in songs and classical stories, but especially in the Klingon opera. In such a case, the passages in no 'Hol must be memorized by the celebrants and performers, as otherwise they would no longer be understood by Klingons living today or would only be understood in a wrong sense.

After the incident on the planet Genesis (see Star Trek III: In Search of Mr. Spock ) one of the Klingons named Maltz was captured by Captain Kirk . This Klingon lives in captivity and regularly reveals new Klingon words to the Federation. His reluctance is the reason why many words are still unknown.


Letters of the KLI
Characters used in the film
Klinzhai or almond script


Since the words were originally only created for use in the films, there are many terms that are rarely used in everyday life, e.g. B. for phaser , spaceship or planet . For the same reason, there is a large deficit in everyday terms that were not used in the film, such as refrigerator , keys or diapers .

The Klingon language contains a total of 90 prefixes and suffixes as well as around 2000 word stems. It contains 100 proper names, 25 planets, 50 fictitious animal names, almost 100 Star Trek-specific terms and around 100 transcribed terrestrial food and country names. This means that there are basically just under 3000 basic words, which, however, are defined by the possibility of combining and also using suffixes to a total of just over 4000 possible terms. In 1985 about 1,500 words were announced in the first dictionary, in the extended new edition in 1992 an additional 300, in 1997 in the sequel to Klingon for advanced learners 570 and in the following years in various sources again about 1,000 words. This only includes the sources recognized as canon that come directly from Marc Okrand . The derivation of new meanings can be made clear , for example, with the basic word chen “to develop”: chenmoH “to form” → chenmoHwI ' “creator” → Hew chenmoHwI'sculptor ”. Own creations are permissible to a certain extent even without canonical use and are accepted by the general public as long as the meaning is clear.

The words are not based on any earthly language, but the author has used various word games to invent a Klingon word. The word for neighbor jIl has the background that Okrand's neighbor is called Jill . The word for fish is called ghotI ' , based on the word game Ghoti . The word for boots - in English boot - is DaS , as can be read in the film title Das Boot .


Since this language was developed for an alien race, the linguist Marc Okrand has endeavored to give it a particularly exotic character. For this, less common linguistic properties were used, such as B. the unusual in English in English the sentence position object - predicate - subject and the use of prefixes and suffixes (see agglutinating languages ).

Klingon has only three parts of speech: verb , noun , and one for everything else. Adjectives fall under verbs and are translated as '... sein', such as B. tIn ' to be great'.

The structure of Klingon is very much like a modular system. Sentences are composed of many individual parts in an (almost always) unchangeable predetermined order. Klingon has neither conjugation nor declension . There are also no different tenses and no articles.


Klingon letter r in the Wikipedia logo

In order to avoid the phonetic transcription of the IPA system and to make it easier to represent it with the usual means, the Klingon language is represented using Latin letters . These represent a phonetic transcription specially developed for the Klingon language, which explains why some of the letters are capitalized in the middle of the word.

There was never an official Klingon script to avoid inconsistencies in the film set. In The Klingon Dictionary states that was known about the Klingon writing very little, except that they pIqaD is called. The so-called almond script, which was introduced in 1980 in the book The USS Enterprise Officer's Manual , is very well known . However, this was assigned to the English alphabet and is therefore not compatible with Okrand's phonetic transcription.

The KLI has used a Klingon font in its quarterly journal since its inception in 1992, based on the characters seen in the films, but not identical. The exact source of these characters is not clearly known, at least it existed before the founding of the KLI. Exactly this font was used in 2011 in the publication of the Klingon Monopoly , in a Klingon language learning software and in a book published in 2012 about the Klingon Bird of Prey (a type of spaceship). Therefore, this brief can now be considered official, even if it is not used in the films.

From 2003 to 2010, Wikipedia's logo contained the Klingon letter r in the top corner . This was replaced in 2010 by the symbol for "wi" from the Ethiopian script.


The badly pronounced scenes and unintentional grammatical errors during the films are subsequently explained as dialects and colloquial language in the book Klingon for advanced learners as follows: Standard Klingon is the dialect of the respective ruler, who is called ta 'tlhIngan Hol (short: ta' Hol ) becomes (literally: 'Klingon of the Emperor'). Since frequent changes of power are characteristic of Klingon culture, the ruler's dialect changes accordingly often. The Klingon dialect, which is spoken in the capital of Qo'noS, is used as the standard for linguistic comparative purposes.

Official recognition

The Klingon language is one of the few fictional languages ​​that have been consolidated in various norms and thus in some respects received an official status: in 1999 the language was entered in the IANA list with the abbreviation i-klingon. This use was replaced in February 2004 by the entry of the abbreviation tlh in ISO 639-2 and 639-3, which is administered by the Library of Congress . The same code is used in the MARC Code List for Languages .

Name of the language

There are only a few languages ​​that have their own word for the Klingon language, as in German, in this case Klingon . This is mostly due to the fact that many countries broadcast the programs in the original sound , and even then speak of a Klingon ship or a Romulan captain in the subtitles . Some languages ​​have nevertheless made an adjustment by adding the typical language name to the tribe Klingon , such as German Klingon or Czech Klingonština . The German version became official at the latest with the publication of the work The Official Dictionary Klingon-German .

In most languages ​​it is just plain Klingon , few say Klingon language to distinguish the language from the Klingons.

Number of speakers

Both KLI chairman Lawrence M. Schoen and linguist Arika Okrent estimate that there are around 20 to 30 people who speak Klingon fluently. There are probably more than two thousand people who have at least a basic knowledge of Klingon. The biggest problem with estimating is defining when someone can speak a language fluently.


Klingon was originally developed and used only for the movies. An everyday conversation in Klingon quickly reaches the limits of the limited vocabulary of almost 3,000 terms. Fans like to use the language in role play (see cosplay ) and at conventions to give their characters more authenticity. Klingon is practiced and spoken in language courses (→ qepHom ), but linguists and students also deal with the topic and create e.g. B. Diploma theses on the topic of Klingon or its users. There are regular mentions and minor uses in various media.

Star Trek films

Klingon was spoken in the following films:

A total of only about eleven short sentences. These were suggested by the actor James Doohan and later served as the basis for the development of the language by Marc Okrand.
Some dialogues were first filmed in English and then dubbed in Klingon afterwards . In the German version, all Klingon dialogues were dubbed in German.
This film contains most of the Klingon dialogue.
Several Klingon dialogues, but also untranslated interjections in the background.
Only a single word was heard in one scene.
The scenes with the Klingons were cut from the film, but are included on the DVD as an addition. Several Klingon phrases can be heard here that appear to contain Klingon words but are difficult to understand.
There is a scene with Klingons in which communications officer Uhura ( Zoë Saldaña ) speaks fluent Klingon.

Other films

Correct Klingon

One of the children speaks a little monologue in one scene.
One of the two main characters is an intense trekkie ; he speaks two sentences in Klingon to his girlfriend after she prompted him to do so during a romantic situation.
A film about two nerds who find an alien. According to their own statements, both speak Klingon and also use few sentences.
A film about an autistic young woman who wants to enter a contest to write a Star Trek script. A police officer gains their trust during a conversation in Klingon.

Suggestions or imitations

In this comedy film about Star Wars fans, a Trekkie is asked to say something in Klingon. However, his answer is not true Klingon.
A minor character in this comedy speaks several sentences in Klingon, which is not official Klingon. This character is played by Jim Parsons , who speaks proper Klingon on the TV series The Big Bang Theory .
In the 19th episode of season 10 , a patient sits in a therapy session and speaks unintelligible sounds. It is stated that he only speaks Klingon.
The film begins with the fade-in of a well-known Klingon quote, but presented in English.

TV Shows

Klingon expressions can be heard in a few episodes, but rarely entire dialogues and not as detailed as in the movies.
In the episode "Star Mitzvah" during the 10th season (2002), Frasier gives a speech in Klingon because someone told him it was Hebrew .
In the first episode of the fourth season (2002), John Crichton calls out a few words in Klingon during a fight.
An episode that takes place at an SF convention ("My Big Fat Geek Wedding" in Season 15, 2004) contains Klingon dialogues. These are just gibberish. However, Klingon characters are used to represent the word LOVE.
In the eighth episode of the first season (2005) "The Duel" Robin has to break off a date with a nerd because of an emergency. He then said the Klingon insult Hab SoSlI 'Quch (“Your mother has a flat forehead”) with the explanation that she is dishonorable.
At a masked ball in the episode of the 4th season (2006) "Witch Hunt" (Eng. Title "Halloween") someone with a Klingon mask is arrested. He contradicts with two Klingon quotes, which one of the investigators named McGee understands and translates.
In the episode "Chuck versus the Truth" in season 1 (2007), Chuck and Bryce talk partly in Klingon to confirm Chuck's identity or to exchange a message that the others do not understand.
In this sitcom , the four main characters - Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, and Howard - speak Klingon at different levels, and one time they also play Klingon Boggle . The invitation to Howard and Bernadette's wedding is also in Klingon (Season 5).
As a result, the man who loved his grandma in the Season 3 Sheldon applies a Klingon version of the proverb "Revenge is best served cold" to: Bortas Bir jablu'DI 'deer QaQqu' nay '[ bortʰaʂ bɪr d͡ʒabluʔɖɪʔ rɛx q͡χaq͡χqʰuʔ najʔ ]. Opponent of revenge Wil Wheaton , who plays himself, understands Klingon and can translate the statement.
In March 2017, the opening credits of episode 2099 on the subject of space were spoken in Klingon. It was spoken by the Klingon teacher Lieven L. Litaer. The guest of the show was the astronaut Alexander Gerst .
The Klingons in this series speak correct Klingon throughout. The translation was not made by Marc Okrand - as in the case of the movies - but by the Canadian Klingonist Robyn Stewart. In addition, the entire series was subtitled in Klingon by Klingon teacher Lieven L. Litaer on behalf of Netflix. Marc Okrand contributed some words especially for the series, which are now an official part of the language.

Literature translations

The restricted vocabulary of the language only allows translations of literary works to a limited extent. For example, a translation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland into Klingon may not be possible because many of the necessary words are not available. Likewise, the Bible translation project, often incorrectly described as completed, failed because of this hurdle. Other projects, too, often require reformulations in the translation. For example, the word "sun" in Klingon Hamlet was paraphrased as "day star" (pemHov) because no word was known for it at the time. Occasionally, Okrand provides new vocabulary for new projects.

  • Shakespeare
According to a statement by Chancellor Gorkon ( David Warner ) in the movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Land (“You won't really enjoy Shakespeare until you read it in the Klingon original”), interest arose in converting the works of William Shakespeare into the fictional Translate language. This project was supervised by the Klingon Language Institute . This was successful for Much Ado About Nothing (sound. Paghmo 'tIn mIS ) and Hamlet , Prince of Denmark (sound. Qo'noS ta'puq, Hamlet lotlut ). Some of Shakespeare's sonnets have also been translated.
  • Gilgamesh
The Gilgamesh epic has been translated into Klingon from world literature .
  • Tao Te King
A Klingon translation of Tao Te King was published in the summer of 2008 .
  • The little prince (ta 'puq mach)
In October 2018, the translation of the famous children's book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in the Klingon translation from the French original (including back translation into German) was published by in-Farbe-und-Bunt-Verlag. The work was awarded the German Fantastic Prize 2019.

Other Projects

  • Opera 'u'
In 2010 the Dutch ensemble KTRE produced a complete opera in Klingon, using specially created musical instruments. Marc Okrand was involved in the creation and made several new vocabulary available.
  • Opera juHrop
In 2009, Frieder Butzmann composed a Klingon opera with the title juHrop ("Homesickness") in collaboration with the Klingon teacher Lieven Litaer , which was broadcast in January 2009 on Deutschlandradio . Besides Klingon, Chinese and English are spoken. Various phrases are based on quotations from Shakespeare .
  • Internet
Several popular websites are available in Klingon, including Google and Facebook . The map service Wheelmap , an offer for entering and finding wheelchair-accessible facilities, also offers a Klingon user interface.
A Klingon Wikipedia existed , but due to the lack of language skills, it contained comparatively few articles. The project was closed in 2005 because it did not meet the goals of the Wikimedia Foundation. It was re-established in late 2006 as the Klingon Wikia - now known as fandom . Scope in May 2020: 229 articles.
For the tenth birthday of its online presence, Deutsche Welle also set up an offer in Klingon in 2004.
On the occasion of the new Star Trek film , Microsoft added the Klingon language to its Bing translation software in May 2013 . This project is processed by experienced members of the Klingon Institute and should therefore guarantee the highest possible quality of the translation. However, the translator does not provide any useful Klingon translations, as the translation matrix is ​​not programmable, but is based on deep learning .
  • software
Star Trek: Klingon (CD-ROM) (1996) - This interactive computer game guides the player through the life of a young Klingon. Here the film can be paused and various objects can be clicked to get an explanation and the Klingon name. An addition to the game is a language laboratory in which the language can be practiced and learned. The software no longer runs easily on current operating systems.
In the video editing system Fast Videomachine, starting with the 1998 version, there was the option of selecting Klingon as the language for the help in addition to Standard German and Bavarian. However, while the help texts were actually displayed in Standard German or Bavarian, when selecting Klingon an excuse appeared that the display in Klingon was not possible because Microsoft was not yet able to provide a corresponding character set for Windows. So the whole thing was a gag. In the meantime there are actually Klingon character sets (usable from Windows 7), but these are not included in the scope of delivery of Windows and have to be installed manually.
The company Sophos had in 2009 completed a version of their anti-virus software available in Klingon.
In 2011, the language learning software company Eurotalk released a version for Klingon.
Also in 2011, the developers of the computer game Minecraft published a Klingon language setting for the game.
In January 2015, Kaspersky released a password checker in Klingon.


  • According to the 2006 Guinness Book of Records , Klingon is the most widely used fictional language .
  • The German music cabaret artist Bodo Wartke sings a verse in Klingon in his love song .
  • In the Esperanto Museum in Vienna, Klingon text examples from the collection of planned languages ​​can be heard over headphones.
  • In the Jenolan Caves in Australia, the audio guide has been available in Klingon as well as 10 other languages since 2010 .
  • The US politician David Waddell wrote his resignation from a city council office in North Carolina in Klingon.
  • In a commercial for the Viennese adult education center , Werner Gruber and Heinz Oberhummer, disguised as Klingons, try to evade the ticket control in Klingon, but the inspector also speaks Klingon. In a second spot, two Klingons can be seen again, who this time go to a VHS course, but are in the wrong class. You will then be kicked out by the teacher in Klingon. These commercials were intended to promote the language courses at adult education centers.


English books on language:

German books on language:

Translations of the aforementioned books:

  • Marc Okrand: The official Klingon / German, German / Klingon dictionary. Heel, Königswinter 1996, ISBN 3-89365-544-1 .
  • Marc Okrand: The honor of the Klingons . Heel, Königswinter, 1997, ISBN 3-89365-603-0 .
  • Marc Okrand: Klingon for advanced learners. Heel, Königswinter 1998, ISBN 3-89365-657-X .
  • Marc Okrand, Lieven Litaer: The official dictionary Klingon / German, German / Klingon. , Revised new edition, Heel, Königswinter 2013, ISBN 978-3-86852-688-2 .

Klingon translations:

Library holdings:

Web links

Language course

The Official Klingon Institute (KLI)

Internet pages in Klingon

Individual evidence

  1. a b Marc Okrand: Klingon for the Galactic Traveler . Original edition. Pocket Books, 1997, ISBN 978-0-671-00995-3 .
  2. ^ A b Marc Okrand: The Klingon Dictionary . Pocket Books, 1992, ISBN 978-0-671-74559-2 .
  3. Ben Robinson: Klingon Bird of Prey Manual . Haynes Publishing Group, 2012, ISBN 978-0-85733-276-9 .
  4. Language subtag registry IANA. October 24, 2014, accessed October 28, 2014 .
  5. Language Tags - Obsolete. June 17, 2010, accessed October 28, 2014 .
  6. ^ MARC Code List for Languages. October 30, 2013, accessed October 28, 2014 .
  7. Klingonský slovník . Triton, 2008, ISBN 978-80-7387-196-3 .
  8. ^ "But what about speakers in the sense of people who can carry on a spontaneous live conversation in Klingon? (...) I would say, oh, twenty or so. Maybe thirty. ”Arika Okrent. In the Land of Invented Languages. New York (mirror & gray). 2010, p. 273. “There are probably more than two thousand people who have learned to use Klingon in some way. Many of them have learned a word or two. ”Ibid, p. 272
  9. Martina Scheffler, dpa: Klingon and Elvish for beginners. July 13, 2004, accessed October 7, 2013 .
  10. ^ Yens Wahlgren: Klingon as Linguistic Capital, A Sociologic Study of Nineteen Advanced Klingonists. (PDF; 182 kB) 2004, accessed on October 7, 2013 .
  11. Please Stand By with translation on klingonwiki.net
  12. The mouse also speaks Klingon. In: Mittelbayerischer Verlag KG. Mittelbayerische.de, March 27, 2017, accessed on March 29, 2017 .
  13. ^ The broadcast with the mouse - episode 2099. In: imfernsehen GmbH & Co. KG. fernsehserien.de, March 27, 2017, accessed on March 29, 2017 .
  14. Analysis of the broadcast on klingonwiki.net
  15. startrek.com
  16. schroederschoembs.com
  17. kli.org
  18. Michael Everson: Re: pIqaD in actual use. In: Unicode Mail List Archive. March 3, 2013, accessed March 6, 2013 .
  19. ^ "Doubt that the sun doth move / ratlh pemHov 'e' HIpon" The Klingon Hamlet, Pocket Books, p. 55
  20. Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen: Tao Te Ching ... in Klingon! kli.org (Klingon Institute), June 25, 2008, accessed January 16, 2013 .
  21. Fantastic price for Klingon fans
  22. juHrop - original broadcast. Klingon opera by Frieder Butzmann. Deutschlandradio Kultur , January 9, 2009, accessed on January 16, 2013 .
  23. Google search in Klingon. Google , accessed January 16, 2013 .
  24. tlhIngan Hol. The Klingon Encyclopedia. Fandom , accessed May 27, 2020 .
  25. Klingon online offer from Deutsche Welle on Web.Archive. Deutsche Welle , archived from the original on March 16, 2010 ; Retrieved January 16, 2013 .
  26. ^ Ddp : Deutsche Welle: News in Klingon. Focus , September 13, 2004, accessed January 16, 2013 .
  27. Bing speaks Klingon. Retrieved May 23, 2013 .
  28. Roland Quandt: Sophos brings anti-virus software for Klingons. winfuture.de, May 20, 2009, accessed on January 16, 2013 .
  29. Kaspersky Lab DACH, message on Twitter. January 22, 2015, accessed February 26, 2015 .
  30. ^ Pan Macmillan: Guinness World Records 2006 . Rev ed. Guinness World Records Limited, 2005, ISBN 978-1-904994-04-6 , pp. 140 .
  31. Bodo Wartke : The love song generator. Retrieved January 16, 2013 .
  32. Dieter Putz: Australia speaks "Klingon". tip-online.at, July 28, 2010, accessed on January 16, 2013 .
  33. Politician writes resignation in Klingon , in: Die Welt from January 3, 2014, accessed on January 4, 2014
  34. Language courses at the VHS Vienna - the official "Commercial of the Year 2015" on YouTube
  35. The new VHS Klingon spot - semester starts on February 8th on YouTube
  36. The commercials on klingonenwiki.net analyzed