Dad spoke only Klingon to child for three years

By | November 19, 2009

Dad spoke only Klingon to child for three years

Dad 2Is this taking the whole Star Trek thing a teensie weensie bit too far? d’Armond Speers spoke only Klingon to his child for the first three years of its life.

Klingon? Not Spanish, French, Mandarin? Not some gutteral genuflecting concoction from the deepest recesses of Borneo? Klingon? You heard it right. (And if you don’t know about the Klingon Empire, look it up.)

“I was interested in the question of whether my son, going through his first language acquisition process, would acquire it like any human language,” Speers told the Minnesota Daily. “He was definitely starting to learn it.”

And get this, Speers says he isn’t really a huge Star Trek fan.

We’ll take his word for it.

Does the fact that Speers has a doctorate in computational linguistics explain anything — or excuse anything — here? Maybe. His child-rearing habits were part of a larger story on the company he advises, Ultralingua, which develops language and translation software. Including Klingon.

via Local dad spoke only Klingon to child for three years – Minneapolis / St. Paul News – City Pages – The Blotter.

How complete is the Klingon language?

The sounds of Klingon individually occur in existing Terran languages, but no single language uses the entire collection. Paramount wanted the language to be gutteral and harsh, and Okrand wanted it to be unusual, so he selected sounds that combined in ways not typically found in other languages (e.g. a retroflex D and a dental t, but no retroflex T or dental d). Here’s a description of the sounds of Klingon, and the way they’re written in the standard Okrand writing-system (see another page for a discussion of another writing system). You can also find out about some everyday phrases in Klingon.

An answer I found interesting from a/the Klingon FAQ:

I just heard Worf say ooga-booga to Dax.  What does that mean?

(Joel Peter Anderson)

Short Answer:

1) Unless the context of the show makes it clear, we don’t know .
2) Unless Marc Okrand explains or defines it in terms of tlhIngan Hol , most Klingonists will not use it.

Long Answer:

From time to time, Trek shows use language identified as “Klingon”,  but apparently don’t care to refer to the well known language delineated by Marc Okrand. Practically speaking, the constraints of doing a weekly show are tremendous (any weekly show). It shouldn’t be surprising that the producers don’t worry too much about getting the language right.

Since Okrand himself does refer to other dialects and tongues within the empire, this is not unacceptable, we may pass it off as some other language of the Warrior race. On rare occassions Okrand has backfit terms from the Trek shows into his work.

So, generally the “odd” Klingon words heard on Trek shows (or used in occasonal Trek novels) are:

1) From Klingon tongues we don’t know
2) Slang or colloquial usage not yet catalogued in TKD et al tlhIngan Hol sources.
3) Random noise used by artistic license to stand in for real Klingon.

Since the KLI concentrates its focus on the language as defined by Marc Okrand, most Klingonists assume option 3 and ignore them, unless such oddities are approved by Okrand.


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