tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Dec 14 23:04:28 1993
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Klingon Shakespeare Translation Project
- From: firstname.lastname@example.org.OZ.AU (Nick NICHOLAS)
- Subject: Klingon Shakespeare Translation Project
- Date: Wed, 15 Dec 93 18:04:03 EDT
Yes, mesdames et monsieurs (or should that be suvwi'mey), I hereby post for
discussion my thoughts on what a KSTP could be like.
1. People wishing to translate Shakespeare for the greater glory of _Hol_
should write to (either the KSTP coordinator or the KLI), nominating the
play(s) and poem(s) they are interested in. The KSTP coordinator will
then assign out work. Since there is competition envisaged for some of the
more prized plays (like Hamlet), it would be a good idea to nominate
individual acts, if you can't get the whole things for yourself. Sonnets will
be farmed out individually, rather than en masse, in view of their technical
2. Every couple of months, people involved in the KSTP should envdeavour
to send a progress report to the coordinator. If people are stalling,
transferring work to other volunteers is an option.
3. When one's work is completed, a disk of the work should be sent to the
coordinator. The text should be plain ASCII, in TKD romanisation, with no
formatting --- namely, it should be suitable for net transmission.
Punctuation is optional, but advisable where intelligibility problems may
result; we should be able to read the Klingon straight through, without
needing recourse to the original. Extended quoted passages should be
marked by quotation marks or indentation. Note that Klingon does not have
4. What format the KLI envisages for publication, should it endeavour it,
is the KLI's business. I would, however, suggest the following: several plays
and poems of SeQpIr in the one book, in 4 parallel texts; a column on pIqaD;
one romanised; one very literal translation; and one column giving the
forged original allegedly written by a 16th century Terran.
5. The conceit that Shakespeare was a Klingon should be played to the
hilt. For this reason, wherever feasible, Klingon topicality should be
maintained. There are a number of ways to do this: references to Trek lore
or qeylIS lore substituting references to mythology; constant denigrations
of other species in the Galaxy (especially Terrans) substituting
denigrations of other Terran races; substitutions of overt Terran cultural
references with Klingon cultural references. For example, the perennial
favourite of the time, referring to cuckolds' horns, should be
substituted with references to smooth foreheads. This conceit should not
be taken so far as to wreak violence on the text. Many Shakespearean
characters tend to wax lyrical and spend thirty lines where a Klingon
would just grunt a sentence; this should not mean we can justify
translating thirty lines as a single sentence --- however nervous we might
get for the actor saddled with such perorations in front of such an
audience. However, a substitution like "I will fetch you a toothpick now
from the farthest inch of Asia" with "neHmaHvo' yuch qaqemrup" is, in my
6. The very literal translation will need to be very literal --- to the
point of obtuseness. The reason for this is irritating, perhaps, but
obvious: the KLI cannot profitably sell any Klingon Shakespeare to just
the initiated. It will have to make inroads on the great unwashed Trekkie
public. For this reason, the literal translation will have to be
entertaining. It needn't make high farce out of Hamlet --- but be
sufficiently quirky, possibly to extremes (like translating be'ni''a' as
"long-sister"), to attract this public. If a TNG-based history of 20th
century computing can hit the best-seller list, I see no reason why a
Klingonish Shakespeare might not have similar appeal for those who would
popularise the Bard.
7. For this reason, while footnotes are a bane in literary translation,
and should be avoided in the _Hol_ texts, they will be a boon in the
translation from the original Klingon. Who the responsibility for *these*
translations would fall to, I'm not sure --- not necessarily the
translator. We could have a word with Barry Levine...
8. Participants in the project should read each others' texts when
possible --- particularly to avoid reinventing the wheel when it comes to
vocabulary. Coinings like "ghItlhtaq" for "pen" should only have to happen
once. They would also profit from criticising each other's work.
9. Nothing should be published unless grammatically and stylistically
vetted by at least one other person. It is unlikely that any one person
will do all the vetting, but we should ensure that Klingon language
standards are maintained.
10. In this project, Klingon will be pushed into directions it was never
expected to. If it is pushed well, I can discuss it at length in my PhD
thesis ;) . The question of "how to express this" will come up very often,
in both grammar and lexicon. In the lexicon, the key is generous
interpretation of the semantics. Though a Duj prototypically refers to a
spaceship, there is no reason why it shouldn't refer to any vehicle. Some
words will be impossible to do; one might as well come up with a near
equivalent, and move on. The most useful approach to grammar seems to me:
"Follow the letter of the TKD; with the spirit, do as you will". Thus,
'e'mo', however handy, should not be used in texts; ghu'vammo' or
wanI'vammo' should be used instead. On the other hand, coinages like the
following (which I've come up with while translating) might not follow the
spirit of the TKD, but seem to me worthwhile:
Bring me ale! --- HIch HIqem!
Her cousin exceeds her as much in beauty as the first of May exceeds the
first of December:
be'nI''a'daj 'IH law' ghaH 'iH puS;
toQDuj 'iH law' veQDuj 'iH puS;
ghu'vetlh rur ghu'vam, teHmo'
You are as tedious as a Vulcan --- vulqangan Darur bIDalmo'
11. Verse in verse translations is desirable. Klingon pentameter is
tricky, but by no means impossible. The accentuation rules in TKD should
be followed; note that they afford some freedom in verb suffix
accentuation. If pentameter turns out unduly restricting to translators,
they should feel free to explore alternatives such as accentual verse.
Rhymes should be translated as rhymes. Puns should also be conveyed, even
if with some licence in translation; holorimes are worth exploring in that
regard. The dialectical confusion of b and m, and D and n, could be
exploited to humorous effect, especially with clown characters. Where the
original has French or Italian phrases or words, translators needn't
hesitate to include English (possibly in a mangled Klingon accent) amidst
their Hol text. The Katherine-Henry dialogue in voDleH *HenrI* vagh
12. Names should be assimilated to Klingon phonology --- that is, both to
its phonetics and syllable structure. Denmark thus becomes DenmarIq; if
the stress is to be on the first syllable, it becomes De'nImarIq.
Balthasar becomes baltlhaSar; Claudio, tlhaw'diyo. Proper names not in the
TKD *must* be indicated as such explicitly in the ASCII text. The
convention I use is *SeQpIr*; others use >SeQpIr<, "SeQpIr", and so on.
13. This is a challenging task to whoever undertakes it. Remember to have
fun! Don't make life overly hard on yourself while translating, and don't
burn yourself out.
"Relax." -- "yIleS." [Three seconds pause.] "Stop Relaxing!" -- "yIleSHa'!"
--- the Conversational Klingon tape.
Nick "I am not a Klingon. Much." Nicholas. email@example.com
nIchyon jIH. nIchyon SoHbe'. nIchyon ghaHbe'. nIchyon tlhIHbe'. nIchyon jIHqu'.