tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Jun 23 12:44:00 2009

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RE: Klingon orthography

Steven Boozer (

Michael Everson wrote:
>>> U?
>>> Do you have a page number? I don't recall such a Klingon letter
>> Page 139.
>> ===
>> Younger speakers also have a slight tendency to change the
>> pronunciation of the vowel "a" in nonstressed syllables to
>> something that sounds a bit like the "u" in Federation Standard
>> "but". If this sound is transcribed with the Symbol "U", a word like
>> "qaleghpu'" ("I have seen you") might sound more like "qUleghpu'". This
>> particular phonological inclination seems particularly bothersome to
>> older Klingons and is generally considered an error worthy of
>> correction. Students who speak this way are customarily reprimanded,
>> ===

Michael Roney, Jr.:
>>>> Huh. Relearn something old every day.
>>>> I shall update my personal dictionary file accordingly.

Russ Perry, Jr.:
>I don't think Okrand was adding "U" to the orthography, but just
>using it to illustrate the difference in pronunciation, so take
>it with a grain of salt.

Okrand used the same device on KGT p.20:

  Krotmag dialect speakers have a distinctive pronunciation of 
  {D} as well: it sounds like {n}, except the tip of the tongue
  touches a point in the middle of the roof of the mouth rather
  than one behind the top teeth as it does for {n}. (For the sake
  of clarity in this discussion, the way Krotmag dialect speakers
  pronounce {D} will be written {N}, to distinguish it from {n}.)
  The {D} sound in {ta' Hol} is also produced with the tongue
  pointing upward and not near the teeth (just like {N}), but
  otherwise the {D} sound is similar to that of Federation Standard
  /d/ as in did. For speakers in the Krotmag region, the sounds
  {n} and {N} are distinct [...]

and on p. 22:

     Speaking in a manner that is sort of between that of the
  Krotmag region and {ta' Hol} are the peoples of Tak'ev ({taq'ev}),
  who, though still a minority population, greatly outnumber the
  residents of Krotmag. These people maintain the distinction
  between {b} and {m} but pronounce the {b} as if it were {mb};
  that is, starting off as the {m} sound but ending up at a {b}.
  Similarly, {D} is pronounced more like {nD} (or, more accurately,
  {ND}). Thus {ba'} ("sit") would be pronounced more like {mba'};
  {Hub} ("defend") would sound like {Humb}; {Du'} ("farm") would
  be {NDu'}; {HoD} ("captain") would be {HoND}; and {Dub} ("improve")
  would be {NDumb}. The nasal vowel quality found in the Krotmag
  region is characteristic of Tak'ev speech as well.
     The speech of residents of the planet Morska has some identi-
  fiable phonological characteristics also. Most striking is the
  absence of the sound {tlh}. Syllables ending with {tlh} in most
  dialects end with {ts} (pronounced the same as /ts/ in Federation
  Standard cats) in the Morskan dialect; at the beginning of syllables,
  instead of saying {tlh}, Morskans say something that sounds very
  much like a combination of standard Klingon {gh} and {l}--that is,
  {ghl}. [...]
Russ is correct.  U, mb, N, ND, ts and ghl are not new letters for standard {ta' Hol}, but are merely ad hoc transcriptions used by "Federation linguists" to transcribe sub-standard and regional Klingon speech.  

Note too that for three of these, Okrand continued his practice of using capital letters to mark unusual/unexpected pronunciations (cf. D, I, Q and S which are not pronounced in {ta' Hol} as the corresponding letters are in Federation Standard (i.e. [American] English).

Canon Master of the Klingons

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