tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Jun 25 06:50:29 2009

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Re: Klingon orthography

David Trimboli ( [KLI Member] [Hol po'wI']

Doq wrote:

> The argument about upper and lower case is particularly weak. If a 
> mix of case is typographically necessary in order to relieve the eye 
> stress of viewing a single case...

Don't take that as an argument so much as an observation. In fact, our
letter-case system comes about through a long history of various
typefaces. Bringhurst's THE ELEMENTS OF TYPOGRAPHIC STYLE has a
detailed—if a bit breezy—history of Latin type. I don't have it with me
here at work so I can't quote from it, but the basic idea behind Latin
letter case is this: Capitals came first. Many other typefaces were
invented later, including a style that we would recognize as lowercase,
but which was meant simply as THE typeface. Because capitals are bigger,
they were used to make titles and first letters or words bigger.
Anything else that the typesetter wanted to make more prominent could
also be emphasized with capital letters. To avoid a too-jarring line,
one could capitalize only the first letter of an important word.

There is a long tradition of mixing typefaces in type. True italic
letters, for instance, are not just slanted versions of roman
letters—those are called oblique letters—they are an entirely different
class of typeface. But we use an italic typeface to make text stand out
of a roman typeface. It's just one of those conventions that has a long
history behind it. Originally, italic type was intended as a the main
typeface for body text.

Compared to a well-established orthography, our Klingon transcription
system is awkward and unlovely.

> well, a normal Klingon sentence in the current system already 
> provides more variety of upper and lower case than English does, 
> since most words have both upper and lower case in them, while only 
> one or two words in your average English sentence use uppercase.

Putting capital letters in the middle of words breaks pleasing lines.
Only when capital letters are used sparingly among lowercase letters is
the right balance achieved.

These aren't my judgements; this is what typographers and layout
designers have come up with.

> As for the need to start every sentence with an uppercase letter, I
> have several friends who never do that in English. It's a little
> annoying, but I get used to it.

With the rise of the Internet, I believe a style of type (or, perhaps 
more accurately, font-use) never seen before has evolved. Just as 
English has a formal style of speech and an informal one, so common 
Internet text is becoming an informal style of "type" when compared to 
professionally edited texts. It may be akin to the difference between 
writing with a good hand compared to scrawling a quick and almost 
illegible note.

I would not like to see all "formal" Klingon Latin-based writing be 
reduced to lolspeak simply because we see it on the Internet. Call me a 
snob for that if you wish, but I think we're above that.

> Which brings me to the simplest solution to dealing with Okrand's 
> notation of Okrand's language:
> Get used to it.

Note that although I understand the merits of orthography reform, I am 
not advocating it. The KLI is here to study and promote Klingon, not 
control it.


tlhIngan Hol MUSH

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