Klingon/Lesson 1

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Writing Klingon


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This is the first lesson in the Klingon language course. It shows how Klingon is written, and introduces the first words of Klingon. There are no exercises with this lesson.

Klingon has no native speakers but it is spoken by a reasonable number of enthusiasts. It is not a natural language but an invented or constructed language.

Klingon has a usable, but small, vocabulary. The grammar is fairly simple, especially when compared to natural languages. There are no irregular verbs, only a few irregular nouns and not many idioms. This makes it easy to learn and master.



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At the top of this lesson is a squiggle, which is pIqaD for the number one. pIqaD is an alphabet supposedly used by Klingons. You can read more about pIqaD on Wikipedia.

These lessons, in common with most speakers of Klingon, do not use pIqaD. Instead they use the Roman alphabet, however some of the sounds are alien to our ears. The complete list of sounds is given below. Sounds such as ch or tlh are considered a single letter.

The case of each letter is solely determined by its pronunciation. For example q and Q have different sounds and represent different letters. So in Klingon, the words qoS and QoS are different with different meanings and different pronunciations.

Confusion can arise between the lowercase l (L) and the uppercase I (i), so it is best to use a font with serifs, such as Times New Roman.

The apostrophe (') represents a glottal stop and is considered a letter.

Klingon is guttural and has a choppy sound.

Letter Pronunciation (IPA) Example in English
a /a/ as in "father"
b /b/ as in "bob"
ch /t͡ʃ/ as in "cheese"
D /ɖ/ none; approximately as in American English "hardly"
e /ɛ/ as in "bed"
gh /ɣ/ none; heard in Spanish "lago" (lake)
H /x/ none; heard in Yiddish "chutzpah" (boldness); or Scottish loch
I /ɪ/ as in "pig"
j /d͡ʒ/ as in "jump"
l /l/ as in "lemon"
m /m/ as in "man"
n /n/ as in "nose"
ng /ŋ/ as in "song"
o /o/ as in "home"
p /pʰ/ as in "pow!"
q /qʰ/ none; as in Arabic "Qurʾān"; essentially a /kʰ/ at the back of the throat
Q /q͡χ/ none; as in Kazakh "qazaq"; similar to croissant; basically /q/ + /x/; (Federation often renders it "kr")
r /r/ none; Scottish rolled "r"
S /ʂ/ none; as in Russian "bábushka"; similar to "sh" (/ʃ/) with the tongue curled back
t /tʰ/ as in "Take it!"
tlh /t͡ɬ/ none; as in Nahuatl "ātl" (water); (Federation often renders it "kl", hence, "Klingon" for "tlhIngan")
u /u/ as in "soon"
v /v/ as in "very"
w /w/ as in "wide"
y /j/ as in "year"
' /ʔ/ heard in "uh-oh" and Cockney "bo'le" (bottle)


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Qapla' (noun) Success! Hol (noun) language
DIvI' (noun) federation or organisation tlhIngan (noun) Klingon

So we translate Klingon language as tlhIngan Hol.

Federation can refer to the United Federation of Planets in Star Trek, and as such DIvI' Hol means Federation language or English language.

Also, these names are used throughout the lessons:

mara (female) Mara
mogh (male) Mogh
torgh (male) Torg


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In this lesson, you saw how Klingon is written using the familiar Roman letters, but with some unfamiliar sounds. You learnt a few words. This is just the start, and there is a long way to go before you can master the intricacies of the Klingon grammar.

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