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Word: Transliterations of proper names and adhering to Klingon syllable structure



Most official transliterations of non-Klingon names adhere to the usual Klingon syllable structure, with limited consonant clusters. Michael Dorn's last name was transliterated {Do'rIn} as opposed to *{Dorn}, Germany is {DoyIchlan} instead of *{DoychlanD}, Quark (the Ferengi) is {quwargh} instead of {qwarq}, etc. But a small number of official Klingon transliterations of proper names appear to violate Klingon syllable structure (in parentheses): {je(mS) qI(rq)}, {pIqa(rD)}, {ma(rq) 'oqra(nD)}, {Sar(br)uqen}. What, if anything, determines whether or not an alien name gets to keep its non-Klingon consonant clusters?

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2 thoughts on “Transliterations of proper names and adhering to Klingon syllable structure

  1. Andrew Miller says:

    Operating under the conceit that Klingon is a natural language, we would assume that inconsistency in transliteration stems from many listeners over time hearing unfamiliar foreign words and recording them as best they can in an unsystematic way. It seems like asking a lot to demand a hard-and-fast rule about this. The juice doesn’t seem worth the squeeze.

    • Patrick Masterson says:

      There doesn’t need to be a hard-and-fast rule, really. This was intended as more of an “in-character” cultural question, rather than asking about strict grammatical practices. So I’m more asking about things like: What are the cultural attitudes towards transliterations that do or don’t allow non-Klingon syllables? Do Klingons mostly not care, or do some traditionalists insist on saying, e.g. something like je’mIS qIr’Iq instead of jemS qIrq? Does transliterating a proper name using non-Klingon syllables say something about the transliterator’s attitude towards that person or place, or is it just a personal preference?

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