In a new interview with Popular Mechanics, Mark Okrand, linguist and creator of the Klingon language, reveals that Klingon came to life through the systems of many languages. The sounds, the rules, the structure, and the cadences all exist in languages that exist on Earth, but these elements as we know them would never appear within the same language system on our home planet, which is what makes Klingon distinct and decidedly alien.
In order to function, the Klingon language relies on an amalgam of grammatical rules, sentence structures, and sounds, just like Earthbound languages. Sure, it’s an alien tongue, but it carries the distinct patterns and rules of Earth tongues, and borrows from a number of different languages, from Russian to the once-extinct Native American Mutsun.
By the time Okrand came to Star Trek, there were instances of actors making up Klingon lines, so, Okrand used those “invented” lines as a framework to develop a complete and functional language. Because the Klingon language is distinctly human, it adds further plausibility to Star Trek’s in-canon explanation as to why so-many of its alien races are bipedal and have similar speaking patterns. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Chase,” it is discovered that all the big alien races in Trek come from a common ancestor who decided to spread slightly modified versions of their DNA throughout the galaxy eons and eons ago.
But, if that explanation wasn’t good enough, the basics of the Klingon langauge are proof enough: Humans and Klingons have more in common than they might think, all of which makes General Chang’s claim to having read “Shakespeare in the original Klingon” not so far-fetched.
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