The Taser's Edge

Klingone gone gone

Not everybody can link Star Trek to The Everly Brothers, but I just managed it…

If you, my dear reader, are anything like me (and I am totally certain you are exactly like me), then it was only this past Easter weekend when you were finally able to part with the Klingon dictionary that had been gathering dust in your parents’ garage.  It was a nostalgic moment, my first real failure at learning a foreign language.  Since then I’ve failed to learn Spanish, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, soon I hope to fail to learn French and German as well, but Klingon was my first failure.

But while I truly did buy a copy of the Klingon Dictionary in third or fourth grade, I did not ever seek to learn the mysteries of Klingon opera.  From Star Trek: The Next Generation:

Truly, Star Trek was never any good at inventing futuristic musical forms for Klingons (in opera above, or the popular repertoire below):

Even Starfleet’s finest humans and humanoid androids suck at music:

And yet, apparently some people take it seriously.  With all the buzz about the new Star Trek movie, there are at least a couple articles out with serious takes on Klingon language and culture, and I think they might have been commissioned as much for the sake of their titles as for any other reason.  NPR produced “The Fat Alien Sings,”  a story about the first Klingon opera being performed on Earth.  Really.  And by serious musicians.

Then has “There’s No Klingon Word for Hello“, an article by a linguist on the complexities of the Klingon language, including a lesson in the 29 possible prefixes to Klingon verbs.  An excerpt about the creator of Klingon as a language and the sources he used to create it: “He cribbed from natural languages, borrowing sounds and sentence-building rules, switching sources whenever Klingon started operating too much like any one language in particular. He ended up with something that sounds like an ungodly combination of Hindi, Arabic, Tlingit, and Yiddish and works like a mix of Japanese, Turkish, and Mohawk. The linguistic features of Klingon are not especially unusual (at least to a linguist) when considered independently, but put together, they make for one hell of an alien language.”

Today, according to Wikipedia, “According to Guinness World Records, Klingon is the most popular fictional language by number of speakers.”  Modern human Klingon speakers (scholars?) are serious enough about the language for the following to be available for sale on Amazon:

I still can’t imagine how Yiddish has formed the Klingon language.  But I am glad that this translation of the Gospel of Mark comes from the Greek text instead of the NIV or something, so that the Klingons too might be saved.

Still, as much as I like real opera, experimental theater, 20th/21st century classical music, and Star Trek (albeit now in a nostalgic-for-fourth-grade kind of way), ‘u’ looks totally unsitthroughable.  Maybe I’ll catch it when it opens in Vegas in a few years.  Or the next time I’m on Qo’noS, the birthplace of Klingon opera so many years ago in the future.

And with that I bid you ‘Qapla (that is to say, “goodbye,” or more literally within Klingon culture, “Success!”).