Pronunciation of the Klingon letters

The Klingon pronunciation is not so hard. Most of the letters that are written lowercase (like a, b, l, m, n, u) do resemble sounds that english speakers are used to. Unusual sounds are written in upper case - for instance H, I, S, Q. so it's obvious that these are spoken differently.

The sounds of the letters are described in chapter 1 of TKD(1).

Vowels

There are five vowels in Klingon: a - e - I - o - u. (2) Most of them are pronounced just like they are written.

letter IPA description
a [ɑ] as in bar or father
e [ɛ] as in bed
I [ɪ] as in fit or ship, never as ee in see
o [o] as in mosaic or go
u [u] as in gnu

Additional notes

When speaking the letter o, focus on the oh sound and don't rhyme with vow, show or boat. English speakers tend to say "oh" with forming their mouth to a u-sound, so it sounds like the diphthong [ou]. German speakers tend to pronounce the o like an open [ɔ] as in offen, but they must be reminded to say a closed [o] like in Ofen (3). This is hard for German speakers, because nearly all german words ending with an o in the second syllable are pronounced with this open [ɔ].

Marc Okrand sometimes pronounces the letter o like an "open o", as in SoH IPA: [ʂɔχ]. He never says it like the o in "shock" or "cop".

Consonants

Most of the consonants in Klingon are pronounced as they are written. Note that there are few sounds that are written using multiple letters, but are considered one single letter in Klingon.

letter IPA description
b [b] as in bar or bed
ch [t​͡ʃ] as in chip
D [ɖ] close to a d, but the tongue is much more in the back of your mouth
gh [ɣ] a gargling G with a humming sound, think of "grr"
H [x]  
j [d​͡​ʒ] as the initial sound of jungle
l [l] as l in lamp or belly
m [m] as m in mother
n [n] as n in north or no
ng [ŋ] as ng in thing, never as in engage
p [pʰ] as p in puppy followed by a puff of air
q [qʰ]  
Q [q͡χ]  
r [r]  
S [ʂ] as sh in shoe or bush
t [tʰ] as t in tea
tlh [t​ɬ]  
v [v] as v in vowel
w [w] as w in water
y [j] as y in yes
' [ʔ]  

Additional notes

  • Q is pronounced [q_X](in X-SAMPA phonetic transcription), or basically like an aspirated q, that is, q followed closely by a raspy puff of air (4)
  • Doubled letters are pronounced either as a lengthening of the letter, or with a brief break between the two letters. Some speakers incorrectly pronounce a doubled letter as a single letter; this is especially true for ' ' (two glottal stops). (5)

See also

References

1 : The Klingon Dictionary, 13-17

2 : The Klingon Dictionary

3 : Das offizielle W÷rterbuch, new edition 2013

4 : KLI mailing list Mark Shoulson, 2/20/98, Re: Introduction

5 : Klingon for the Galactic Traveler, p. 138

Category: Grammar    Latest edit: 11 Jul 2017, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 23 Jul 2014 by KlingonTeacher
History: r9 < r8 < r7 < r6 - View wiki text



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