Phonology of Klingon

We will begin by noting that The Klingon Dictionary lists 21 consonants and five vowels. The consonants are b ch D gh H j l m n ng p q Q r S t tlh v w y ', and the vowels are a e I o u. Without further embellishment to that classification, here's what we observe about the phonological structure of Klingon syllables.

With the single exception of the endearment suffix -oy, every prefix, suffix, and single-syllable word in TKD begins with at least a single consonant followed by a single vowel. The syllable may end there, as with a handful of words and every pronominal prefix, or it may conclude with either a single consonant or one of the three legal consonant clusters rgh, w', or y'. w never follows o or u (1). The individual syllables making up more complicated words all follow this same pattern.

Denoting consonants with C and vowels with V, here's what we find as valid syllables:
  • oy (only as the Type 1 noun suffix)
  • CV
  • CVC (except for Cow and Cuw)
  • CVrgh
  • CVw' (except for Cow' and Cuw')
  • CVy'

Syllables never end with ow or uw, because their sound would be identical with just o or u.

The only known exceptions to this in canonical sources are the names qIrq, pIqarD and 'oqranD. All three are Klingon representations (or transliterations) of non-Klingon names.

See also


1 : The Klingon Dictionary, p. 19

Category: Grammar    Latest edit: 03 Dec 2019, by De7vID    Created: 05 Mar 2014 by LieVen
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