Stuff We Love: Klingon isn't the language of warriors. It's the language of scholars.

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Jul 7, 2017

Star Trek has made it quite clear: Klingons may be honorable, but their honor is entwined with their warrior culture, and a person who cannot or will not fight is regarded with contempt.

As a person of a more Vulcan persuasion, I have long assumed that the humans who have embraced the Klingon ethos are people who only fight and drink and snarl. But the Klingon language has opened my eyes to the patience and dedication of those who speak it.

Fans of the Klingon language, rather than combative, are actually highly collaborative. Speakers of the constructed language have translated the Epic of Gilgamesh, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing and the Tao Te Ching. And let’s not forget the Klingon opera. These projects create a sense of community around scholarly pursuits rather than martial ones. In other words, I can make friends with every single speaker of Klingon, regardless of their desire to fight their way into Stovokor.

Fantasists have been constructing their own languages ever since J.R.R. Tolkien created Quenya all the way back in 1910. Invented by Marc Okrand for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Klingon is the most widely spoken constructed language (conlang) on Planet tera’, used by thousands of people worldwide—including characters on The Big Bang Theory. (Fun fact: Canadian James Doohan, aka Scotty, helped create the basics of the Klingon and Vulcan languages for Star Trek I: The Motion Picture.)

The Klingon Language Institute, founded by writer and publisher Lawrence M. Schoen, has classes for you. If you decide to pursue this, I wish you great success. Qapla'.

Want more Klingon? The 24th Annual Meeting of the Klingon Language Institute takes place July 27-29, 2017, in Chicago.