tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Jul 30 05:26:38 1999

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Klingon vs. Navaho

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to your July 28th story comparing the languages of
Navaho and Klingon (
I haven't seen the referenced MLA report so I'll limit my remarks to what I
found on your site. I'll confess at the outset that I'm not familiar with
your publication and perhaps the entire story is intended as a joke. If
that's the case, then nevermind, we obviously have vastly different senses
of humor. If the article is intended to be accurate, then there are a
number of other problems.

First, the basic premise is horribly flawed. While I don't have any
statistics on hand to corroborate the number of fluent Navaho speakers, if
we assume your cited number of 1000 fluent speakers is correct that alone
is many times the number of "fluent" Klingon speakers. What may be leading
you astray is the oft-quoted statistic that there are more than 250,000
copies of THE KLINGON DICTIONARY in print, though how you've managed to
arrive at the erroneous 7 to 1 ratio of Klingon to Navaho speakers is still
a mystery.

Second, the sources you cite as members of the Klingon Language Institute
are in fact either fictious or simply false. Doug Petersen, whatever else
he may be, is not a member of the KLI, let alone one of our Grammarians.
Moreover, the sobriquet "HoD trI'Qal" actually belongs to someone else and
I suspect she would be annoyed to learn Mr. Petersen has made use of it.
Similarly, Bob Janowitz is not a member of the KLI, nor is he the editor of
HolQeD our quarterly journal. I ought to know as I have edited every issue
we've published for the last seven and a half years. Nor does the KLI have
any member named Jennifer Proehl, and even if we did she couldn't be a
member of the KLI's "High Council" because the no such governing body
exists within the KLI.

Third, Petersen's claims concerning THE KLINGON WAY are total fabrication.
The book does not contain recipes for Durani lizard skins, the proper way
to address a B'rel Scout, or any song lyrics. It is in fact a book of
popular Klingon sayings, containing additional background material on the
origin of some of these aphorisms. Likewise, the statement attributed to
Janowitz implying there are more than 200 printed works available in
Klingon is desirable but simply untrue. While the KLI is proud of its
publishing history (which does include a hardbound production of HAMLET) we
have published only three books to date, thirty issues of our quarterly
journal, and three issues of our annual Klingon poetry and fiction
supplement. A search of the Library of Congress's database will quickly
turn up the respective ISBNs and ISSNs of these works, but not the hundreds
of others that your article suggests are out there.

Fourth, while I am aware of KLI members who sing and tell stories in
Klingon, as well as practice martial arts, I have no knowledge of any KLI
members who "perform spiritual ceremonies derived from the various Star
Trek television series and films." The vast majority of our members are
interested in this unique constructed language but nonetheless have no
difficulty drawing the distinction between reality and fantasy. It may be a
hobby, it may even be a passion, but it is hardly a way of life, spiritual
or otherwise.

I'm hoping that this article was intended as a joke and not something to be
taken seriously. Even so, I find the misattribution of representatives and
officers of the KLI to be vastly inappropriate and irresponsible. If the
goal here was to poke fun at the people studying the language then making
up a bogus organization and publications would have achieved your ends. If
the article was intended to be taken seriously, then someone has excercised
gross negligence in following up and verifying your sources. Either way, I
hope you'll be taking responsibility for the article and its deliberate


Lawrence M. Schoen, Ph.D.
KLI Director

:: Dr Lawrence M Schoen, Director   :: The KLI is a nonprofit ::
:: The Klingon Language Institute   :: tax exempt corporation ::
:: POB 634, Flourtown, PA 19031 USA :: DaH HuchlIj'e' ghonob  ::
::  :: ::  215/836-4955  ::

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