Klingon: The Most Popular Constructed Language

Posted by Lindsay Geoffroy

In today’s world, you would be hard-pressed to find a television-owning adult in America who does not know about Klingon. Klingon is the language spoken by the fictional Klingon alien race in the Star Trek series. Klingon is a constructed language (conlang), meaning that is was specifically designed instead of developing naturally. It can also be referred to as an invented language.

There may be 20-30 fluent Klingon speakers in the world today, but many hobbyists study it in their spare time. Let’s learn a little bit more about this popular conlang.

How Did Klingon Come to Be?

Klingon first appeared onscreen in the 1979 Star Trek film Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The first bits of the conlang were constructed by James Doohan, the actor who played “Scotty” on the Star Trek TV show. Producers then contacted linguist Marc Okrand, who had written some Vulcan for the series, to build off of Doohan’s minimal phrases and create Klingon grammar and expand the vocabulary. The team behind the series really wanted Klingon to sound like a real language – and so it became a real language. The next film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, showcased more of the language. Klingon continued to grow, and was utilized in subsequent films and the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Four publications have been translated into Klingon: The Epic of Gilgamesh, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, and Tao Te Ching.

The Klingon Language Institute is a nonprofit organization committed to spreading the word on Klingon and teaching people to speak the language.

Some Useful Klingon Phrases

Yes: Hija’

No: ghobe’

Hello (what do you want): nuhneH

Where is the bathroom?: nuqDaq ‘oH puchpa”e’

Happy Brithday: qoSlij Datlvjaj

Today is a good day to die: Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam

For an audible demonstration of phrase pronunciation, visit the Klingon Language Institute website.

While Lionbridge does not offer Klingon translation services (yet), we do offer translation services for more than 250 different types of languages. Check us out over at here.