L'Rell is the name of a Klingon character first seen in Star Trek: Discovery. The Klingon spelling is lIr'el.(1) L'Rell is portrayed by Mary Chieffo.

Klingon spelling

pIqaD Discovery Posters.jpg
L'Rell's name on the poster (section)
Klingon dialogue translator Robyn Stewart explained the Klingon spelling for this name on her Twitter account:(2)
The writers named her L'Rell before I met the character, and I had to transliterate the name. In The Klingon Dictionary, Marc Okrand tells us that a two-syllable Klingon noun is stressed on the second syllable. This contrasts with the way an English speaker normally pronounces a two syllable name. ROBert, NANcy, DAvid.

I recently did a paper with @LingJWWindsor on stress in Klingon, where we analyzed the speech of a group of Klingonists and compared it to the stress described in TKD. The stress on names was almost always "backwards" and so is the stress on Klingon names from the show. We say MARtok, KAHless, DURas. I had a conversation with Marc Okrand about this as we were discussing the Klingon for Donatu. He wanted to be sure that it was stressed in Klingon the same way as English speakers said it. It's important to Marc – and thus, apparently to Klingons – that loan words have the same stress pattern after import. So it was important to me that working the other way, that L'Rell's name in Klingon sound the way it was going to be pronounced in the script in English.

I'm not sure the writers had a particular sound in mind for L'Rell's name. A couple of times I gave them various options for the sound of a newly created character's name, but they were not interested in choosing, so I went for the easiest way. People who know no Klingon see L'Rell and say lərel, with the stress on the second syllable. (The second letter there is a schwa, not sure what Twitter will do with it, it means the sound is a like the u in English but: a very non-specific vowel).

The consonant blend l' is not possible in tlhIngan Hol. (It's not in English, either, but writers looove starting Klingon names with consonant-apostrophe). If I made her name lI'rel, Klingon stress rules would put the emphasis on the first syllable. I could have made it lIrel, and it would possibly sound a bit more like the English that way: lI-rel. But the writers had put an apostrophe in it, and I felt some pressure to have a qaghwI' in the Klingon version, especially for the poster.

I have to imagine someone transliterating from the original Klingon name lIr'el and deciding that L'Rell was the right way to spell it. I think having a qaghwI' in the original helps point that way. So: lIr'el.

Other characters from this show

Actor Name Klingon spelling Source
Clare McConnell Dennas DennaS Netflix Subtitles
Kenneth Mitchell Kol qol Netflix Subtitles
Mary Chieffo L'Rell lIr'el STLV
Christopher Obi T'Kuvma tIquvma STLV
Damon Runyan Ujilli 'ujIllI' Netflix Subtitles
Shazad Latif Voq voq STLV
David Benjamin Tomlinson Or'Eq 'or'eq Netflix Subtitles

See also


1 : 11 New "Star Trek: Discovery" Character Posters Unveiled, August 1, 2017

2 : thread of multiple messages on her Twitter account, 5 February 2018

Category: StarTrek    Latest edit: 05 Feb 2018, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 06 Aug 2017 by KlingonTeacher

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