Okrand on Reddit.jpg
Okrand's proof of participation
On 7 of August 2016, the executive producers of Conlanging held a public AMA on Reddit, revealing some interesting information. (1) This page lists Klingon language relevant details.


The discussion was initiated by David J. Peterson. He was with Marc Okrand, Na'vi inventor Paul Frommer and Christine Schreyer, creator of the Kryptonian language used in Man Of Steel. Britton Watkins was also involved.


Origin of Klingon

User "EarningAttorney" asked:
"What did you base the Klingon off of? (Anceint culture ect...) [sic]"

Marc Okrand:
The short answer is that it's based on nothing, but that's not quite accurate. The sounds and syllable structure are based on a few lines of Klingon heard in the first Star Trek movie (those lines were created by James Doohan -- Scotty). I added more sounds, picking a few non-English sounds (to made the language sound "odd," at least from an English speaker's point of view) and a few sounds found in English and many other languages. There are no sounds in Klingon that can't be found in some human language or other, but the collection of sounds is unique to Klingon, and one wouldn't expect to find this particular set of sounds in any human language. Likewise for the grammar -- nothing really odd, but the various bits of grammar shouldn't be in the same (human) language. For vocabulary, at first, I just came up with whatever words were needed for the lines in the scripts. (The vocabulary has expanded quite a bit since then, though).

Jon Povill:
Actually, the phrases for the opening scenes of ST-TMP were created by Jimmy Doohan and me -- in my office at Paramount. We did them together. I was the associate producer of the movie. It was a fun session and it did not, in truth, take us very long (as I remember). Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that it would someday expand to an entire language. I can't speak a word of it. My hat's off to you guys.

Marc Okrand:
Jon -- Thanks!!! I knew there was someone besides Jimmy involved. I learned about Jimmy's involvement from Mark Lenard. Mark said that Jimmy and you came up with the language, but later (I am embarrassed to say) I couldn't remember your name. When I tell the story (other than in abbreviated form), I say that Jimmy and a producer worked together on the TMP lines. From now on, I'll be more accurate and specific. So great to hear from you.

Jon Povill:
Thanks Marc. Truth be told I'd forgotten about it myself until I went through a box of memos and stuff from the movie and discovered the list of phases we'd put together and realized "Holy shit! I did that!" It's so bizarre in retrospect to see the Klingon language everywhere. "Big Bang Theory" uses it constantly. Jimmy and I also did some work on the Vulcan language for the movie, though we were greatly augmented in that by Hartmert Sharph (I am probably spelling his name completely wrong). We were going guttural and Germanic for Klingon, Sanskrit for Vulcan. I took French and Spanish in high school and college and barely passed -- so I was a strange guy for the task. It just kinda fell to us in the course of the production.


User "airking" asked:
"How do you tackle the spelling of words in the language? Do you just spell how it sounds or do you come up with more structured rules for the language?"

Marc Okrand:
In the writing system I used for Klingon (when working on the films, etc.), each letter or letter combination stands for one particular sound (unlike, say, English, where that's not the case), so spelling is easy. I developed the system as a tool for the actors, so I used the roman alphabet since they, as English speakers, would be familiar with it and defined what each letter or letter combination stood for. I used capital letters to denote some non-English sounds or as cues for the actors to not pronounce those in the normal (that is, normal English) way. I got used to that system, so kept on using it in later work.

But that's just transcription. The "real" Klingon written language makes use of a different set of characters that are not based on the roman alphabet at all. I didn't devise that.

See also


1 : Discussion on Reddit, retrieved on 23 Sep 2016

External Links

Category: General    Latest edit: 23 Sep 2016, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 23 Sep 2016 by KlingonTeacher
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