tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Dec 03 06:10:45 2009

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Re: Transitivity of <mev> and <tagh>

Mark J. Reed ( [KLI Member]

On Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 7:52 PM, Christopher Doty <> wrote:
> Well, Klingon is claimed to have been designed to violate the rules of
> human languages. ÂBut it doesn't, really.

To be sure, every feature of Klingon, phonological and grammatical,
exists somewhere in human languages.  This is a well-known principle
in conlanging: ANADEW.   No matter how exotic/alien/original you think
language feature X is, it is quite likely that A Natlang Already Does
Even Worse - somewhere there's a natural human language that takes the
same idea to an even further extreme.  Besides, Klingon is supposed to
be alien, but it's also supposed to be speakable by human actors and
usable to convey ideas originating in English, so it can't be TOO

What is alien about Klingon is the particular combination of features
it uses.  As you said, this is especially true in the phonology, where
you have  /t/ and /n/ but retroflex /É/ (or in one of the
the nonstandard dialects, retroflex /É/ and /É/ but dental /t/), velar
/Å/  and /É/ but uvular /q/ and /qÏ/, and so on.   But it's also true
to a lesser extent in the choice of grammar features and vocabulary
(the Klingon way of dividing up colors violates a human language
universal, IIRC).

We also know from Okrand's interviews that whenever he felt that
Klingon was getting too similar to an given inspiration language
(mostly Native American ones), he would intentionally go in a
completely different direction.   So it's dangerous in general to
extrapolate based on natural human linguistic patterns, since the
designer of Klingon was in many cases consciously avoiding them.

Mark J. Reed <>

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