tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Jan 20 09:54:44 1999

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]

RE: KLBC: capitals in the writing system

jatlh Judith:

> Hello again,
> remember me? I am busy writing a thesis about Klingon and its 
> speakers. Yesterday, after long talks and many written pages, 
> I finally convinced my professor that this is a good subject. 
> But thanks to all the people among you who wanted to solve this 
> problem in a Klingon way (simply go to him and *convince* him :-)


> The last days I was studying the dictionary and now I have a 
> question: why are some characters in the writing system written 
> in capitals? Does this have a function and / or a reason or is it 
> just the way it goes?

To start with, the writing system we use is *not* the "real" Klingon writing
system. The real system is called <pIqaD>, and we know very little about it.
Due to some Star Trek / Paramount issues, we probably never will know
anything substantial about it.

The writing system we use was made up by Okrand when he recorded the
language. It was designed to make it easy for the actors use, and to look a
little exotic; it was not designed for linguists, who would probably prefer
IPA. As a result, it's basically arbitrary, but there is a reason for many
of the choices.

The single letter lower case symbols like <b> and <t> are generally the same
as their English counterparts. The single letter upper case symbols like <H>
and <D> are generally similar to their English counterparts, but somehow
different. The combinations like <ch> and <tlh> are either the same as the
corresponding English combination (<ch> and <ng>), or not like anything at
all in English (<gh> and <tlh>). The symbol <'> is its own special case. The
system is not perfectly consistent. Neither <q> nor <Q> fits the pattern,
and I can't figure out why, of all the vowels, only the <I> is upper case.

A nice (probably intentional) side effect of the writing system is that it
is completely unambiguous: there is no group of symbols which, when written
out, can be confused with another similar group of symbols.

It is worth noting, though, that (unlike English or many other natural
languages) each symbol maps to exactly one sound, so pronunciation is easy
once you figure out how to make the individual sounds. The only
pronunciation information not encoded into the written word is syllable
stress, which is easy enough to figure out based on the rules Okrand gives
in the dictionary.

Beginners' Grammarian

Back to archive top level