pIqaD used in Star Trek: Discovery

Please note that Klingon on Star Trek Discovery is not considered canon.

The Klingon writing system first called pIqaD in TKD, and first developed by the KLI, has appeared in both promotional activities for Star Trek: Discovery but also onscreen during the show. This has been the very first appearance of pIqaD on screen and has therefore acquired its status of being canon in the Star Trek fandom.

Three types of pIqaD were used so far.

on screen used pIqaD

pIqaD in DSC 01 full.jpg
Scene with Klingon letters

pIqaD in DSC 01.jpg
close-up of the Klingon letters
Not only on their promotional posters, but also in the series, there is some pIqaD visible. In one scene of the second trailer, there is an event similar to a funeral going on, and you can see Klingon letters on the floor saying the words ghIq chalDaq HovDaq SIq qeylIS 'ej jatlh pa' DaqHomvetlh wovDaq HInej. Backtranslated, this means "Then Kahless pointed to a star at the sky and said: Find me at that bright place up there." This is a phrase based on the legend around Kahless called "The Story of the Promise", first mentioned in the TNG episode "Rightful Heir". (1)

New font for the Klingons announcement

On 12 December 2016, CBS announced three actors for Klingon roles.(2) They did so using a klingon phrase. (3) The phrase is written in pIqaD using a so far unknown Klingon font.
STDiscovery Klingon.png The phrase reads:
ghetwI' luwIvlu'ta'
qul yIchu'

The provided correct translation says "The actors have been chosen. Light the Fire."

Grammatical detail

It is interesting to see the use of the word ghetwI' for "actor". It surely is the correct choice, but we have seen Okrand use the word DawI' as well. The latter had been used in the Hamlet translation, long before the word ghetwI' was revealed. See MOVED TO... actor for details.

On first sight, it may seem that a better way so say "make a fire" would be using the verb chenmoH, as we know from the replacement proverb DopDaq qul yIchenmoH QobDI' ghu' - "Set fire on the side when there is danger." The word chu' is usually used only for devices. In the official announcement(4), this seems to be chosen on purpose, as the word "Fire" is written in upper case and the page mentions "We'll let you discover what that really means." Later previews of the show made clear they are referring to the torchbearer lighting the ceremonial fire with his already-lit torch. He or she is not *creating* a fire, but using an existing flame to *activate* a larger fire.


In the discussion about this phrase in the Facebook group "Learn Klingon", Lawrence M. Schoen mentioned that the KLI had been contacted and sent in their phrases "on Wednesday" (i.e. 07 Dec 2016). Schoen provided them sentences using the noun DawI', but they were not used. In a private message, Marc Okrand confirmed that he was not involved in the translation of the phrase.(5) After it had been revealed that Robyn Stewart is doing the job as Klingon translator, she has confirmed that she had also done this phrase (6).

pIqaD used in promotional posters

pIqaD Discovery Posters.jpg
sections from the posters
The Klingon character names were released during the above mentioned announcement, but their Klingon spelling appeared on an artwork published on Star Trek Las Vegas Convention 2017. (7)

Name Klingon spelling Actor
Dennas ? Clare McConnell
Kol ? Kenneth Mitchell
L'Rell lIr'el Mary Chieffo
T'Kuvma tIquvma Christopher Obi
Ujilli ? Damon Runyan
Voq voq unknown

Background information

written by Robyn Stewart (8)
The designer of the pIqaD fonts used in Star Trek: Discovery and its publicity materials is Andy Tsang. He okayed me naming him.

I was introduced to him after he had designed ... I'll just say "more than one" pIqaD font, based on a lot of research he had done looking at existing pIqaD. I reviewed his work, indicating what letters were too similar or too odd to be easily recognizable, and he made some tweaks. I had to admit that we don't know what the defining characteristics of the fonts are to native speakers. Perhaps we're depending on serifs that might not be present in other fonts. One of my e-mails mentioned of a particular iteration, "The Say looks enough like a ghay that if a student had designed the font, I would tell them it was too confusing, but you guys ARE Star Trek so you get to do some things that fans don't, including declaring that Klingons don't find that confusing at all."

It was one of my first assignments, may even have been my very first one, so I hadn't yet assimilated the fact that I too am now Star Trek. I'm also not a font professional, and given that I'm fond of Comic Sans, may not be trustworthy with respect to what is a suitable font. I might be more assertive doing the same task today, but you had better believe that Andy is respectful of what he is building on. At one point he mused that someday *his* fonts might be on those fan pages that he had studied, clearly aspiring to that height. I smiled to myself, and less than a week later was able to send him a link to Lieven's Wiki [i.e. this Klingon Language Wiki] showing the partial font teased out of the publicity material. The request for me to do the qul yIchu' publicity translation came before we had finalized the fonts, so it's possible that it was a non-final version of that font, never to be seen again.

I also told Andy that fans had already found and translated Kahless' last message on the nebeylI' plinth [see chapter "on screen used pIqaD" just above], and he said, "Wow that's insane!" I hope your enthusiasm for these details leads to more almost-hidden Klingon detail on sets and props.

The torchbearer's knife

The letters used on the torchbearer's knife are not pIqaD, nor is it Klingon. Robyn Stewart did not make these.

See also


1 : The Story of the Promise on Memory Alpha

2 : Qapla' - Discovery Introduces The Klingons, StarTrek.com, 12 Dec 2016

3 , 4 : Star Trek: Discovery Reveals Klingon Characters, on CBS.com, 12 Dec 2016 11:05 a.m.

5 : Email to Lieven L. Litaer of 12 Dec 2016

6 : private message to Lieven L. Litaer of 7 August 2017

7 : 11 New ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Character Posters Unveiled – Including New Character, on TrekMovie.com, published August 1, 2017

8 : Message on Facebook on the Facebook page Klingon Language in the next Star Trek  , by Robyn Stewart, on 07 Aug 2017

Category: Canon    Latest edit: 11 Aug 2017, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 07 Aug 2017 by KlingonTeacher
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