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Old September 23 2013, 04:01 PM   #1
bozlemboy
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klingon alphabet

Hi, im a fan of star trek, mainly the next gen. I am looking for a translation from english to klingon. I'd like my sons name (maxwell) as a tattoo. ive had a quick look and seen bing has a translation to klingon but wanted to double check before i make it perminant.

Any help would be greatly recieved.
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Old September 23 2013, 04:21 PM   #2
R. Star
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Re: klingon alphabet

Well by it's very nature, fictional languages, especially in written form are largely incomplete. There are various "sources" on what's what, but they differ and leave gaps.



and



These two vary largely. The first was drawn up by an "anonymous source at Paramount who emulated letters seen on the show." The second was made up by a trading card company. So hardly concrete canon stuff. The second is wholly impractical for a written language and the first well has gaps when converted to English. The x in your kid's name comes to mind.



This one appeared in a TMP tech manual back in the early 80's. A bit more official a source and complete, but clearly different from the two and has no parallel to the generally accepted Klingon Dictionary Mark Okdrand published and was generally used by the TNG people. You'll note that the basic look of the characters is a bit different as this is based on the TMP hull markings and the TNG/DS9 stuff grew different.

I guess you could handwave this away, justifying the Klingons have many languages like we do, but it seems a dubious prospect to permanently tattoo something so ambiguous to interpretation and not set in stone to your body. In the end... it's your choice and nothing is "official" so... do what you want there.
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Old September 23 2013, 08:17 PM   #3
137th Gebirg
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Re: klingon alphabet

^^^ That last alphabet has its roots much earlier than TMP. The TOS D-7 used the characters mapped to "D74" as its hull markings. The TMP K'T'inga markings (from the AMT/ERTL decal sheet) are very different, using what appears to be the second alphabet you have listed, which seems to have way too many equivalencies to accurately reverse-map into something meaningful. IIRC, John M. Ford used the third alphabet as a part of the "Klinzhai" language (also used by FASA?) for his two books "Final Reflection" and "How Much for Just the Planet". I like it better than the other two alphabets - it seems cleaner and easier to use. And who's to say that the Klingons can't have different languages and dialects, with some using "Klinzhai", or "Klingonaase", and others using "Tlingan Hoq" or whatever it's called, with different alphabets, just like we Humans? For an entire race to only have a couple or three alphabets seems actually quite limiting and unrealistic to me. Hell, the Japanese alone have a bunch of different alphabets and variants: Romaji, Katakana, Kanji, Kiragana etc...
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Last edited by 137th Gebirg; September 23 2013 at 09:08 PM.
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Old September 23 2013, 09:05 PM   #4
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Re: klingon alphabet

^ ^ ^ Tots agree.

It seems extremely unrealistic for an entire species to have developed one language. However, by the 23rd century, and unified space travel, humans had unified english as the official Terran language, so it's not completely unrealistic for the Klingons to have undergone the same sort of unification. Nevertheless, Klingons don't exactly center their culture on such unification or academics, so a unification process may have occurred slowly, for generations, and may have still been occurring at the time of TOS. But since the TNG people used a common reference source, the language spoken in TNG was uniform. In-universe, this means the Klingons developed a unification in the century between the two, not implausible at all. The dialect that finally became custom in-universe in TNG may have differed greatly from TOS, explaining the difference in "official" languages between the two.
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Old September 23 2013, 09:14 PM   #5
Christopher
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Re: klingon alphabet

R. Star wrote: View Post
The second is wholly impractical for a written language and the first well has gaps when converted to English. The x in your kid's name comes to mind.
Well, the English x doesn't really have a sound of its own; it's just ks, or sometimes gz. "Maxwell" in Klingon phonetics would be approximated as maqSwel, or possibly maHSwel.
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Old September 24 2013, 12:09 AM   #6
R. Star
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Re: klingon alphabet

Nine of Four wrote: View Post
^ ^ ^ Tots agree.

It seems extremely unrealistic for an entire species to have developed one language. However, by the 23rd century, and unified space travel, humans had unified english as the official Terran language, so it's not completely unrealistic for the Klingons to have undergone the same sort of unification. Nevertheless, Klingons don't exactly center their culture on such unification or academics, so a unification process may have occurred slowly, for generations, and may have still been occurring at the time of TOS. But since the TNG people used a common reference source, the language spoken in TNG was uniform. In-universe, this means the Klingons developed a unification in the century between the two, not implausible at all. The dialect that finally became custom in-universe in TNG may have differed greatly from TOS, explaining the difference in "official" languages between the two.
Really? I'd see the Klingons having unified by force and the victor forced their language or dialect on the defeated. Then again Enterprise stated there were several dialects still in use by the 22nd century. Up for interpretation really.

Christopher wrote: View Post
R. Star wrote: View Post
The second is wholly impractical for a written language and the first well has gaps when converted to English. The x in your kid's name comes to mind.
Well, the English x doesn't really have a sound of its own; it's just ks, or sometimes gz. "Maxwell" in Klingon phonetics would be approximated as maqSwel, or possibly maHSwel.
Good point there. Inconsistencies? Well it's not like our own language doesn't have them anyways. Really up to the OP what he wants to come up with for the tattoo.
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Old September 24 2013, 03:24 AM   #7
Christopher
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Re: klingon alphabet

R. Star wrote: View Post
Really? I'd see the Klingons having unified by force and the victor forced their language or dialect on the defeated.
Not all conquering cultures do that. Often they allow the conquered to retain their own cultures and institutions, even most of their authority structures, because it's easier to let them mostly administer themselves so long as they render unto Caesar.

For instance, in the Roman Empire, the official language in the western half was Latin, but in the eastern half it was Greek.
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Old September 24 2013, 05:22 PM   #8
SchwEnt
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Re: klingon alphabet

I love it. Even Klingon alphabet letters look like weapons.
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Old September 24 2013, 05:30 PM   #9
Mysterion
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Re: klingon alphabet

bozlemboy wrote: View Post
Hi, im a fan of star trek, mainly the next gen. I am looking for a translation from english to klingon. I'd like my sons name (maxwell) as a tattoo. ive had a quick look and seen bing has a translation to klingon but wanted to double check before i make it perminant.

Any help would be greatly recieved.
You might take a look here: http://www.kli.org/

If what you're looking for isn't on the site, I'm sure you can contact someone there to get the answer you're looking for.
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Old September 25 2013, 09:33 AM   #10
davidant32
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Re: klingon alphabet

Nine of Four wrote: View Post
However, by the 23rd century, and unified space travel, humans had unified english as the official Terran language....
Also interesting is that Earth (and all of Starfleet really) utilized the Greek alphabet as well, at least in authorization codes and naming (quadrants, for example).
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Old September 25 2013, 05:41 PM   #11
R. Star
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Re: klingon alphabet

Christopher wrote: View Post
R. Star wrote: View Post
Really? I'd see the Klingons having unified by force and the victor forced their language or dialect on the defeated.
Not all conquering cultures do that. Often they allow the conquered to retain their own cultures and institutions, even most of their authority structures, because it's easier to let them mostly administer themselves so long as they render unto Caesar.

For instance, in the Roman Empire, the official language in the western half was Latin, but in the eastern half it was Greek.
All true examples... but I don't think they necessarily apply to the Klingons... take this line from You are Cordially Invited for example:

MARTOK We're Klingons, Worf. We don't embrace other cultures. We conquer them. If someone wishes to join us, they must honor our traditions and prove themselves worthy of wearing the crest of a Great House.
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Old September 25 2013, 05:50 PM   #12
Bad Thoughts
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Re: klingon alphabet

R. Star wrote: View Post
All true examples... but I don't think they necessarily apply to the Klingons... take this line from You are Cordially Invited for example:

MARTOK We're Klingons, Worf. We don't embrace other cultures. We conquer them. If someone wishes to join us, they must honor our traditions and prove themselves worthy of wearing the crest of a Great House.
Depending on context, "Klingon" could be broad and inclusive, encompassing anything a Klingon believes and practices. I'd note that German actually covered a great linguistic variety, including Danish and Dutch, amongst many who wished to claim the broadest territory for the German Reich.
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Old September 25 2013, 05:53 PM   #13
R. Star
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Re: klingon alphabet

It's more the attitude than the statement itself. If as a unified people that's how they treat outsiders, why would they not treat rival nation-states or clans or what not that way when they weren't unified? Their culture is based on battle and conquest after all.
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Old September 25 2013, 05:59 PM   #14
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Re: klingon alphabet

R. Star wrote: View Post
It's more the attitude than the statement itself. If as a unified people that's how they treat outsiders, why would they not treat rival nation-states or clans or what not that way when they weren't unified? Their culture is based on battle and conquest after all.
Because nation-state and culture are not necessarily equivalent, and when they are equated, the formed tends to be a lot smaller than other nation-states. Moreover, those nation-states that enforce rigorous cultural uniformity are usually at war with themselves. (Of course, ST doesn't deal well with pluralism, preferring to celebrate cross-cultural exchange rather than diversity with a culture. Klingon is a monoculture like all the rest. OTOH, clan issues are still important within the empire, as evidenced by Quark's romance and Worf-Jadzia's marriage.)
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