tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Sep 06 09:34:49 1999

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Re: Questions and possibly some KLBC:

On Sat, 4 Sep 1999 13:43:50 +0200 Alessio Cardeti 
<> wrote:

> Hi all,
> My name is Alessio but you can call me muchwI' maw' (pagh, check this
> please).
> I am not new to the list but this is very much my first real post.
> I am doing some research on artificial languages and lately I have been
> interested in the way artificial languages are developed.
> I was wondering about how the Klingon Language is expanded... as far as I
> gathered Mark Okrand (and his staff, if he has any) is the only person who
> can officially expand/correct/make changes to the KL, right ?

Marc (not Mark) has no staff. He created the language beginning 
respectfully with very little material from the first movie and 
some of the stage directions for the third movie, and he has 
folded in a lot of back-fit work to handle things that happened 
in the movies. Once the director decided to add a line that they 
didn't think to shoot and the set had already been torn down, so 
they took an outtake from another scene and put subtitles to it, 
so the exact same line from one sentence (with an opening phrase 
dropped) becomes a new line. Marc moved the syllable boundaries 
around a little and justified the grammar and vocabulary and the 
language changed in order to accomodate this.

Lines were shot in English and Marc had to figure out Klingon 
things a person could be saying to match those lip movements and 
have the scene redubbed in Klingon. The language changed in 
order to make that work as well. Some of the changes have been 
beautiful to watch.

> Can anyone provide me with more information ?

Rent or buy Star Trek III, The Search for Spock. When Valkris 
speaks Klingon, turn off the volume and notice that her lip 
movements exactly match the English subtitles on the bottom of 
the screen. Meanwhile, Kruge, talking back to her, really is 
speaking Klingon lines shot in Klingon. Yet it works. It is 

> Secondly, I'd like to know what the people in this list think about being
> "forced" to work only with the tools that are provided by Okrand.

Given how many years ago the language was created and that this 
list has been around for perhaps seven years or so, do you 
really expect that you are the first person go take this line of 
questions? There have been many people interested in telling us 
all about how they appreciate all the work that Marc has put 
into the language, but now, he is just an impediment, 
obstructing needed changes to the language, so we should just 
dump him and take over.

Then he comes out with something like Klingon for the Galactic 
Traveller and proves that the language is still in good hands.

> Do you
> sometimes feel the need to expand the languages by yourselves ?

It happens, though it happens slowly. Krankor noticed that 
relative clauses could be quite ambiguous if they have both a 
subject and an object. He came up with the idea of adding {-'e'} 

to the head noun to disambiguate it. Okrand thought that was 
cool and made it canon. People suffered great angst for our lack 
of a question word for "which" as in, "Which knife do you want?" 
I recast it as a command, "Identify the knife that you prefer!" 
Okrand thought it was a good way to deal with it and now it is 
canon. And ~mark came up with the word {'I'}...

Okrand definitely accepts reasonable and useful expansions to 
the language, but until he does so, they are not really part of 
the language. Very simply, we respect that the language is his 
and we are honored to have it to use. To show less respect than 
that is to lose something of quality worth more to us than the 
ability to shred the language through committee process. A 
number of people have come up with really bad ideas of ugly 
changes to the language (like "Hey. Let's use any verb as a 
noun whenever we want to!"). How can we stop that from happening 
if we throw the language open to change by people other than 

> Do you feel,
> as active users of KL,  you have the right to ?


> Do you think the KL would
> benefit from a descriptive/cooperative approach to language development ?

It already has one. It is very slow because Marc is a very busy 
person with a life. It may surprise you, but MANY of us have 
lives. So, change occurs very slowly and only one person is the 

> On the other hand, is there anyone who thinks that MO prescriptions are the
> best way to ensure a fluid and non-ambiguous development of the KL (which
> may as well turn it into an "unnatural" language anyway) ?

Marc intentionally accepts a certain degree of ambiguity in the 
language. It is frustrating sometimes. The word {wej} is 
especially troublesome when you try to say something like, "I 
see three Klingons," or "I don't see Klingons yet." Still, just 
like in a natural language, there is a balance to be struck. If 
everything was ambiguous, the language would become useless. If 
nothing was ambiguous, the language would become sterile.

The language IS unnatural. We all know that. Meanwhile, it has a 
lot of interestingly natural features. It is also remarkably 
expressive for an artificial language. It is quite passionate. 
Most artificial languages (I feel safe to say) tend to suffer 
for a lack of that passionate characteristic. Face it. Most 
originators of artificial languages are intellectual enough that 
analytical accuracy tends to be their focus. You have to spit to 
speak Klingon. You have to roar to speak Klingon.

It's a lot of fun.
> I know it might take some time to answer to these questions. That's why I am
> suggesting that you might be sending private answers to my e-mail address
> and
> take your time with them. That would also spare other people in the list
> from reading this non-sense chatter.

Well, some of us LIKE to share our feelings about this language.
> Please, I need as many answers/opinions as I can get. That would be really
> important.
> You might as well choose not to help me but remember that...
> not maroj tlhIngan qoj malIj

"We Klingons never make peace and/or we forget."?

I hope that's not some canon expression that I've failed to 
recognize. It seems to be gibberish. Syntax, yes. Symantics, no.

Or is the {not} supposed to extend to both verbs? "We Klingons 
never forgive or forget." Okay, it makes more sense, though I'd 
expect a second {not} after {qoj}.
> See ya.
> muchwI' maw'
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> may' QapmeH wo' Qaw'lu'chugh, vaj Qaplu'be'
> 'ej wo' toDmeh may' mevlu'chugh, vaj lujlu'be'
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> PS.
> Pagh could you please correct my Klingon ?

Do you have your own personal Klingon? Impressive.

> Thanks.

charghwI' 'utlh

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