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Klingon script

The Klingon written language

"That sagging old rust bucket is designed like a garbage scow. Half the quadrant knows it. That's why they're learning to speak Klingonese."

Klingonese (also known more commonly as "Klingon") was the language used by the Klingon species and throughout the Klingon Empire. It was boasted that half the quadrant was learning the language by the mid-23rd century. (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles")


Paq batlh

The paq'batlh, an ancient Klingon scroll

Somraw captain on display with writing

Klingon characters on a terminal (2151)

T'sang board

Handwritten Klingon script on a t'Sang board (2257)

The Klingon language contained eighty poly-guttural dialects constructed on an adaptive syntax. The first Human to become fluent in it was Hoshi Sato in 2151, who learned from a linguistic database provided by the Vulcans. (ENT: "Broken Bow") Sato once remarked that a book given to her by Tarquin, written by a civilization over a thousand years dead, was in a language very similar to Medieval Klingon. (ENT: "Exile")

Arturis, who knew over four thousand languages, described Klingon as a robust language. In fact, B'Elanna Torres stated that she found the language a little too robust for her taste. (VOY: "Hope and Fear") It was not however an immutable language. It was constantly changing to meet the needs and aspirations of the people. In the mid-24th century, the word "peacemaker" appeared for the first time in Klingonese after the negotiations mediated by Riva between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets took place. (TNG: "Loud As A Whisper") Still, as of the late 24th century, there did not seem to be a Klingon word for "jolly". (TNG: "Parallels")

By the late-23rd century, several Federation authors wrote books on learning the Klingon language. Commander Nyota Uhura kept several aboard the Enterprise-A in 2293 when she had to convince a Klingon patrol post that they were the Klingon freighter Ursva, including Introduction to Klingon Grammar, Spoken Languages of the Klingon Empire and Okrand's Unabridged Klingon Dictionary, while referencing A Concise History of the Klingon Empire and Klingon Technical Communication Standards. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Several of these books were seen in greater detail in the Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Special Edition) DVD special features.

Nichelle Nichols complained that with the Klingons as the Federation's primary enemy, a good communications officer would be able to speak at least basic Klingon. Director Nicholas Meyer preferred to keep the scene as it was, for "the laugh."

In the alternate reality, Uhura described her mastery of Klingon as "rusty", but she appeared fluent enough to negotiate with members of the Klingon Defense Force. (Star Trek Into Darkness)

Non-Klingon speakers of Klingonese[]

Prime reality[]

Alternate reality[]

Written language[]

Klingon written language

A Klingon bulkhead reading: "Deck 2, red sector"

Montgomery Scott once stated that reading Klingon was hard compared to maintaining damage control aboard a Klingon Bird-of-Prey. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

The directory of the Promenade on Deep Space 9 was written in Klingonese, as well as English, Vulcan, Ferengi, Bajoran, and Cardassian.

Spoken language[]

Kathryn Janeway could barely speak basic Klingon. Despite being half-Klingon, B'Elanna Torres was only able to speak a few phrases of Klingonese. (VOY: "Hope and Fear") In 2374, Alexander Rozhenko admitted to Miles O'Brien that he could barely even say his name in Klingon. (DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited")

Words and phrases[]

Word Meaning Usage Source
adanji a type of incense used only for Mauk-to'Vor DS9: "Sons of Mogh"
baH fire! (as in torpedoes, disruptors, etc.) Star Trek: The Motion Picture; TNG: "Redemption"
baktag an insult TNG: "Redemption II"
bat'leth sword of honor; a two-handed sword-like Klingon melee weapon TNG: "Reunion"
Bekk an enlisted rank in the Klingon Defense Force DS9: "Sons and Daughters"
cha'DIch an individual who fought for a warrior challenging a ruling of the Klingon High Council TNG: "Sins of The Father"
"CHEGH-chew jaj-VAM jaj-KAK" "Today is a good day to die" Perhaps a dialectal form of tlhIngan Hol Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam DS9: "The Way of the Warrior"
Cho'echu "Energize" DS9: "The House of Quark"
DaH! Now! TNG: "Redemption II"
De-lak DOH! Take your stations! DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire"
d'akturak ice-man DS9: "Blood Oath"
d'blok an insult

The Star Trek Encyclopedia, 4th ed., vol. 1, p. 174 identifies d'blok as a Klingon animal.

In 2372, Chancellor Gowron compared Worf to a mute d'blok, when Worf didn't answer Gowron's offer to come with him to Cardassia Prime immediately. DS9: "The Way of the Warrior"
Dhak'tah wall/barrier/hull ENT: "Sleeping Dogs"
d'k tahg a traditional Klingon warrior's knife Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Fek'lhr the demonic guard of Gre'thor, according to Klingon mythology TNG: "Devil's Due"
Forshak a substance which smells bad when it rots In 2373, Worf insulted Thopok by suggesting he smelled like a pile of rotting forshak. DS9: "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"
Ghay'cha' an expletive Said in confusion at seeing an empty bridge in the Kobayashi Maru scenario. PRO: "Kobayashi"
ghoptu hand DS9: "Blood Oath"
Ghos! Make it so! TNG: "Redemption", "Redemption II"
Gin'tak an inductee to a Klingon house DS9: "The Way of the Warrior"
gik'tal to the death TNG: "Lower Decks"
Gre'thor the mythological place where souls of the dishonored go after death TNG: "Devil's Due"
he' HImaH energize (voice command to transporter activation) DS9: "Past Prologue"
Ha'DIbaH! animal Worf said of Duras that "This Ha'DIbaH should have been fed to the dogs!" TNG: "Sins of The Father"
Hechu'ghos set course (set a ship's course) TNG: "Unification I"
HIjol energize (voice command to transporter activation) ENT: "Marauders"
hur'q outsider DS9: "The Sword of Kahless"
in'cha begin DS9: "The Way of the Warrior"
jagh enemy ENT: "Judgment"
jak'tahla Klingon time of adolescence Star Trek: Insurrection
Jatlh speak TNG: "Unification I"
jat'yIn spiritual possession, literally "the taking of the living by the dead" TNG: "Power Play"
Jelik a word, phrase, name, place, or event mentioned by Klaang to Hoshi Sato in 2151; along with Sarin, Rigel, and Tholia, Sato could not translate the word or understand its meaning ENT: "Broken Bow"
jinaq a pendant given to a young Klingon female old enough to take a mate TNG: "Birthright, Part II"
J'khat bah fusion manifold ENT: "Sleeping Dogs"
k'adlo thank you TNG: "The Mind's Eye"
kajunpak't courage DS9: "Blood Oath"
ka'vek you, there a situational term, as it was used either as a challenge or as an interrogative DS9: "Chimera"
ke'chaw defend yourself DS9: "Chimera"
kellicam a Klingon measurement of distance Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
kesh an exclamation of frustration or disappointment DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach"
khi-GOSH let's go DS9: "Blaze of Glory"
Kolat chack tabak plasma containment ENT: "Sleeping Dogs"
koruts derogatory term DS9: "Sons of Mogh"
k'pekt an insult DS9: "Blood Oath"
Kortar in Klingon mythology, the first Klingon created by the gods and who destroyed them VOY: "Barge of the Dead"
Kos'Karii pale, serpent-like creatures from Klingon mythology, who roamed the waters of the underworld VOY: "Barge of the Dead"
ko'tal unknown – possibly "fighter" – K'mtar referred to a holographic Klingon fighter as one TNG: "Firstborn"
kut'luch a traditional knife used by Klingon assassins TNG: "Sins of The Father" VOY: "Real Life"
Kyamo beautiful DS9: "Blood Oath"
Len'mat recess; adjourned TNG: "Sins of The Father", "Redemption"
Mak'dar insult DS9: "The House of Quark"
Maj ram good night DS9: "The Sword of Kahless"
Mahk-cha! engage DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire"
mat-LEH loyalty DS9: "Sons and Daughters"
Mauk-to'Vor a ritual in which one killed a wrongfully disgraced sibling to restore their honor in Sto-vo-kor DS9: "Sons of Mogh"
mek'leth a Klingon blade weapon DS9: "The Way of the Warrior"
mevak a traditional knife used for Mauk-to'Vor DS9: "Sons of Mogh"
mev'yap a stern command to immediately cease an activity In 2367, Jean-Luc Picard shouted this command at Gowron and Duras when the two were about to attack each other during the start of the Ja'chuq ceremony. Two years later, Picard barked this command at CaptainNu'Daq. TNG: "Reunion", "The Chase"
mok begin DS9: "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"
Mok'tah bad match VOY: "Drive"
movek I lose DS9: "Sons of Mogh"
Naj "dream before dying" VOY: "Barge of the Dead"
naDev ghoS! come here TNG: "Redemption"
nIb'poH déjà vu TNG: "Cause And Effect"
nuqneH. qaleghnes. A Klingon greeting TNG: "The Emissary"
Nuq'nuh A traditional greeting. DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach"
Ouee nagah impulse drive ENT: "Sleeping Dogs"
par'Mach love, but with more aggressive or violent undertones DS9: "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"
par'Mach'kai a term of endearment, used to refer to one's mate DS9: "Let He Who Is Without Sin..."; VOY: "Prophecy"
petaQ an insult See below TNG: "The Defector", et al.
Po'tajg! well done! TNG: "Firstborn"
poH qut time crystals DIS: "Through the Valley of Shadows"
Pu'DaH dak cha photon torpedoes ENT: "Sleeping Dogs"
Qapla' success Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
qi'von knee DS9: "Blood Oath"
Quee nagah impulse drive ENT: "Sleeping Dogs"
Qui'Tu the place where all life began, according to Klingon mythology Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
qu'vatlh an expletive In 2374, Martok said Alexander Rozhenko and his father Worf were both "stubborn, tiresome qu'vatlh". In 2383, Gwyn used this curse when the USS Protostar's escape pods were ejected before she could access one. DS9: "Sons and Daughters"; PRO: "Starstruck"
shuVak a servant DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach"
sli'vak someone who sleeps around DS9: "Penumbra"
Soh-chIm step-sibling, god parent (roughly); legal guardian assigned by a Klingon warrior prior to battle TNG: "Parallels"
Sonchi "He is dead" The phrase confirms the death of the incumbent Klingon Chancellor in the Sonchi ceremony, performed to begin the Rite of Succession. TNG: "Reunion"
so'wl'chu' engage; activate TNG: "Unification I"
Sowee TAH uncloak DS9: "The Way of the Warrior"
Sto-vo-kor the afterlife of the honored dead, where Kahless the Unforgettable resided TNG: "Rightful Heir"
SuH ready TNG: "Redemption"
Suvwl' warrior TNG: "The Icarus Factor", "Redemption"
t'gla an insult DS9: "Invasive Procedures"
tlhIngan maH taHjaj "Remain Klingon" or "We are Klingon, may we endure" DIS: "The Vulcan Hello", "Battle at the Binary Stars"; SNW: "Under the Cloak of War"
taHqeq a being known for telling lies; used as an insult when questioning another's honesty TNG: "The Mind's Eye"
toduj mettle LD: "The Least Dangerous Game", "The Inner Fight"
tohzah an insult TNG: "The Defector"
top'a an insult Nu'Daq chided one of his officers with "You incompetent top'a". TNG: "The Chase"
toruk-doh an insult DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited"
vang ghaH! take him! TNG: "Birthright, Part I"
yan a sword DS9: "Apocalypse Rising"
Yej rhin A call to adjourn the Council DS9: "The House of Quark"
Yih-Ghom-HAH! Dismissed DS9: "Sons and Daughters"
Yintagh an insult TNG: "Redemption"


One Klingon term used as an insult on numerous occasions was petaQ (also spelled "Pahtak", "Pathak", "p'tahk", "p'takh", "patahk", "pahtk", "p'tak", or "p'taq"). It was also used by the Klingons of the mirror universe.

According to William T. Riker, petaQ was a curse word. (TNG: "The Defector")

As can be seen above, many different spellings of the word have appeared over the years. petaQ is the official Klingon spelling from Marc Okrand's Klingon Dictionary. According to the dictionary, petaQ literally means something like "weirdo", stemming from the verb "to be weird", but it accumulated so many extra cultural connotations over time that a direct translation is difficult, and it is actually quite a serious insult.

Examples of spoken language[]

bortaS bIr jablu'DI' reH QaQqu' nay'
"Revenge is a dish best served cold", or literally, "When revenge is served cold, the dish is very good" (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Mentioned by Khan Noonien Singh, but not in Klingon. The Klingon translation first appeared in Okrand's second book, The Klingon Way (p. 133)

"My beloved"

Spoken by Valkris to Kruge shortly before her vessel was destroyed.

matlh! jol yIchu'!
"Maltz! Activate beam!" (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Kruge when beaming the crew of the Enterprise to his Bird-of-Prey, and when Kirk beams up with Spock after defeating Kruge.

taH pagh taHbe'
"to be or not to be" (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Spoken by General Chang during diplomatic dinner on board the Enterprise. As explained in the foreword of The Klingon Hamlet, the phrase uttered by chancellor Gorkon, "You have not experienced Shakespeare, until you have read him in the original Klingon," inspired members of the KLI to translate Hamlet into Klingon.

nuqneH, qaleghneS
"What do you want? I am honored to see you" (TNG: "The Emissary")

jIlajneS. ghIj qet jaghmeyjaj.
"I accept [with honor]. May your enemies run with fear." (TNG: "Sins of The Father", "Redemption")

Literally: I am honored to accept. May enemies be scared and run.


tlhIH ghIj jIHyoj
"I fear your judgement"
"coward" (TNG: "Sins of The Father")

naDev ghoS
"come here" (TNG: "Redemption")

A Klingon drinking song:

'ej HumtaH 'ej DechtaH 'Iw
"And the blood was ankle deep"
'ej Doq SoDtaH ghoSpa' Sqral bIQtIq
"And the River Skral ran crimson red"
'e' pa' jaj law' mo' jaj puS
"On the day above all days"
jaj qeylIS molar mIgh HoHchu'qu'
"When Kahless slew evil Molor dead" (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior"; VOY: "Barge of the Dead")

As with many other Klingon quotations, this song is grammatically ill-formed according to Marc Okrand's dictionary. A close equivalent of the given English translation might be something similar to:

'ej ngIb Saw', vI', Dech je 'Iw;
'ej Doq, SoDtaH, ghoStaH SIqral bIQtIq;
ngugh, jaj nIv law' Hoch nIv puS,
molor mIgh HoHchu'qu'DI' qeylIS.

Mok'Ta vor, kash a'VEH
"You are an enemy of my House" (DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited")

wIy cha'
"show tactical display" (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Chak wa kah Deesh paklah! Kah Deesh paklah 'kiV Duj Duj-to!
"We've been attacked by an unknown ship, designation Enterprise NX-01! Any warships in range, respond!" (ENT: "Sleeping Dogs")
QonoS Thrott! Nej jos mIch ka Xanant 'ach pagh
an extract from a captain's log entry (ENT: "Sleeping Dogs")
Heh Cho'mruak tah
"Death before dishonor" (ENT: "Sleeping Dogs")

Gorat kA!
"This way!" (ENT: "Marauders")

The definition of this phrase comes from the final draft script of "Marauders".

basically means "Holy shit!" (ENT: "Borderland")

The definition of this phrase comes from the final draft script of "Borderland". Using Okrand's orthography, the two lines would be spelled "QI'yaH!", per the Klingon Dictionary.

SoHvaD pagh vIjatlh, Human!
"I have nothing to say to you, Human!"
'ay'vamDaq nuHmey tIQeq
"target weapons on this section" (ENT: "Affliction")

quv lughaj Archer HoD beqDaj je
"Captain Archer and his crew are honorable people" (ENT: "The Augments")

maj ram
"Good night", as said by both Jadzia Dax and Kor as the former headed for bed. (DS9: "The Sword of Kahless")

In 2371, the USS Enterprise-D arrived at Veridian III and hailed the cloaked Bird-of-Prey used by Lursa and B'Etor. A Klingon officer told B'Etor of the Enterprise's hailing, but B'Etor responded with "Du'cha. We're still cloaked. They can't see us." (Star Trek Generations)

According to the Star Trek Encyclopedia, 4th ed., vol. 1, p. 222, this was a term meaning "to put an audio signal "on speakers"".

"yI-Har-Qo! nep-we' ghaH!" ("Do not believe him! He lies!")
"Hol-chaj yI-jatlh." ("Speak in their language.") (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor")

This dialogue obeys the vocabulary and grammar described in The Klingon Dictionary by Marc Okrand, albeit with a slightly different transcription. Using Okrand's orthography, the two lines would be spelled "yIHarQo'! nepwI' ghaH!" and "Holchaj yIjatlh", respectively.

"That is enough!" (TNG: "Sins of The Father"); "Stop!" (TNG: "Reunion")

The definition of this phrase comes from the scripts of "Sins of the Father" and "Reunion".

naDev ghoS!
"Come here!" (TNG: "Redemption")

Gagh Tek Or?
"What'll it be?" (DS9: "Melora")

P'kar tel Durg Le Frakn'l?
"You call this live?"
Dug a bul, rah'tar!
"What's your problem, lady?"
D'tel klop a bul!
"This slop you call food is the problem!"
Pak't pol!
"If you don't like it, don't eat it!"
D'kar tel G'denna!
"I want to see the blood running through the veins!" (DS9: "Melora")

Ak un lach'tel?
"A new boyfriend?"
Doko, doko, un Koliay Trill
"no, no, my student" (DS9: "Playing God")

batlh Daqawlu'taH; DaH Hegh!
"You'll be remembered with honor; now die!"
chay' pen Aha'bA?
"What's going on?" (DS9: "Blood Oath")

Bet'ala nog'tor
"Look at this" (TNG: "Firstborn")

Du'cha Kovah! Estah!
"Leave me alone! Let me go!" (DS9: "Visionary")

Ach'cho korvak batah!
"A warrior's program!"
Karagh, abeh!
"Let's eat!" (DS9: "Visionary")

Lohd Zoss-lee chaw-KU sohk jaTAL?
"Does your mother let you talk to men?" (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

The spelling according to The Klingon Dictionary for this sentence is "loD SoSlI' chaw'qu' SoH jatlh'a'".

However, the proper grammatical way to convey the intended meaning in Klingon should be "loD Dajatlh 'e' chaw''a' SoSlI'".

A TLING-on kaogh.
They fight like Klingons.

The spelling according to The Klingon Dictionary for this sentence is "tlhIngan Hargh"

Zo a TLING-on HEGH-lah. YOD-weeKAW. TIG-mang-RUP.
"Then they can die like Klingons. Destroy their shields. Prepare boarding parties."

The spelling according to The Klingon Dictionary for this sentence is "tlhIngan HeghlaH. yoDwI' Qaw'. tIj mangrup"

Jee-YAJ. DUJ-va, YOD-wee-KAW
"As you recommend. All ships, concentrate fire on their shield generators" (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

The spelling according to The Klingon Dictionary for this sentence is "jIyaj. Duj vay', yoDwI' Qaw'"

CHEGH-chew jaj-VAM jaj-KAK
"It is a good day to die" (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

The spelling according to The Klingon Dictionary for this sentence is cheghchu' jajvam. jaj QaQ

"Yes, sir" (DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach")

The translation of this quote was from the Star Trek Encyclopedia, 4th ed., vol. 1, p. 129.

MoVas ah-kee rustak!
"Today was a good day to die!"
Kosh tomah ehpaq Lukara kaVeir
"The day is not yet over, Lukara"
Ish-tovee chuCH thling nuq?
"Would you kill me too?"
Besh gee urchun omaH te-doQ maugh-shta
"No, but I would gladly die by your hand if you will not mate with me this day"

Later, in the episode, when Worf and Dax fight, they add new lines after the third line above.

Meklo boH ka Mech.
"I amell the burning of your blood."
Te-doQ roos ka... Mech-TOH
"The fire is your doing."

(DS9: "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places")

Legh SoH va Gre'thor
"See you in Gre'thor" (VOY: "Barge of the Dead")

Martok degh, to-Duj degh, bat-LEH degh, mat-LEH degh
"Badge of Martok, badge of courage, badge of honor, badge of loyalty"
Martok degh
"Badge of Martok"
Alexander, vih-nob dok-tog
"Alexander, give him your dagger"
Mat-LEH gih-Hegh!
"I will be faithful even beyond death!"
DAH!; "Now!" (DS9
"Sons and Daughters")

A line omitted from the episode was Wachk ihw, wachk kkor-duh. ("One blood, one house.") This line was repeated two more times.

They are coming

ghoSlI' chaH ("They are coming") written in Klingon

ghoSlI' chaH
"They are coming." (DIS: "The Vulcan Hello")

N'Gos tlhogh cha!
"Our marriage is done." (DS9: "The House of Quark")

Bosh-ta-JaH Veridian
"Set course for Veridian." (Star Trek Generations)

Louk, a jeek CHIM-ta law
"Yeah, but I'm a lot better looking than he was." (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

Ach Gowron, yay chol
"But Gowron, victory is near." (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

Do-MACH ah chee ghos eh-PAGH
"Can you be a victor of the heart as well as the sword?" (DS9: "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places")

Ros-te-ka cha'Domak ootha Trill?
"Did you think her spots were going to bite you?" (DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire")

Tug son bosh mok A'Beh, Sirella koH. E'Gagh vet moh.
"Enter my home and be welcome, Mistress Sirella. May you find it worthy."

In a line cut from the episode, Sirella responded, "Eck'taH roh masa qee'Plok." (May this be the first of many visits.)

Jadzia Dax Vond Shoo-vwee Dun Mahh-kekh Huh-Koo-Vahm Jeh Yin-Moj Mah-Mukh. Sto-vo-kor Pah-Dahkh-tin Baht-leh el-eegh-cha yay-moj.
"We dedicate this mission and our lives to the memory of a great warrior, Jadzia Dax. Through our victory, she will enter the sacred halls of Sto-vo-kor." (DS9: "Shadows and Symbols")

YuWee-modge. Baht-leh-modge. Yay-Dodge.
"Blood. Honor. Glory." (DS9: "Shadows and Symbols")

Jadzia pay-lodge pah-dock-Lih Dun. Shoo-vwee-vahm baht-leh pay-lodge. Pay-lodge Poh-Hokh-Vahd Sto-vo-kor.
"Welcome Jadzia to your halls... welcome this honored warrior... welcome her, Sto-vo-kor, for all eternity." (DS9: "Shadows and Symbols")



Background information[]

The Klingon language was originally called "Klingonese" in the episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" (by Korax) and again in "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places" (by Quark), and is spelled in the script and the Star Trek Encyclopedia, 4th ed., vol. 1, p. 430. The term was also used in the script of Star Trek: The Motion Picture noted whenever the Klingons were speaking. Most later episodes refer to the language simply as "Klingon," and non-canon names include Klingonaase and tlhIngan Hol.

D7-class signage as designed by Matt Jefferies

Jefferies' Klingon emblem and script design

A few characters of Klingon script were first devised by Matt Jefferies, also responsible for the very first visual representation of the definitive Klingon emblem, for use on the D7 class model as used in the Original Series. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 6, p. 70) Additional letters were created by Magicam for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (Star Trek Sticker Book, pg. 17)

Michael Okuda, who led the Star Trek: The Next Generation-era art departments in creating the Klingon language graphics, starting from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home onward, has admitted they are randomly arranged symbols, which he based on the small number of Klingon writings visible in Star Trek: The Original Series and the first three Star Trek films. These graphics and writings do not reflect any possible spellings or translations in what Okrand's non-canon works call pIqaD, the native Klingon writing system. (Note: An unofficial guide to pIqaD is included on the box insert of the Star Trek Klingon Edition Monopoly game.)

The Klingon language as spoken was originally developed by UCLA dialectician Hartmut Scharfe, James Doohan, and Jon Povill for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Doohan, who had expertise with various dialects, became involved in developing the Klingon language after he had a discussion with Gene Roddenberry over lunch. Decades later, Doohan remembered, "[Roddenberry] didn't like what [the dialectician] created. I said, 'Well, I'll do it for you after lunch.' I was doing something close to Mongolian." Povill has related in more detail, "When we switched from TV to motion picture, we had decided to make sure that the Klingons weren't speaking English, so we now asked our language expert, Hartmut, to help us construct a Klingon language. Whereas he had given us just what we needed for the Vulcans, his Klingonese didn't sound alien enough. Hartmut is Indian [sic: Scharfe was of German descent, but a languages specialist as spoken on the Indian subcontinent], and he was using it as a combination of Sanskrit and Germanic, it sounded in some ways recognizable, so we were not completely satisfied. Jimmy Doohan has always been good at just kind of making up dialects and languages, so he volunteered his services to help us. After Hartmut had done his thing and worked it all out logically, Jimmy and I just sat down one day and made up stuff. We created the Klingonese by using some of what Hartmut had done and then combining it with our own: we strung together nonsense syllables, basically, totally made up sounds with clicks, and grunts, and hisses. Jimmy actually taught it to Mark Lenard and the others just prior to the shooting of that scene, which didn't take place until many months later." At the time, Doohan told his co-workers, "We have to cut out vowels as much as possible." (Return to Tomorrow - The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, pp. 260–261; Star Trek Monthly issue 80, p. 16)

At that time the language was first featured, it essentially consisted of only a few exclamations, and the Klingon language was expanded for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock by Marc Okrand, who enlarged the lexicon and created a grammar around the original dozen words Doohan had created. It has spawned several reference works, beginning with The Klingon Dictionary.

Netflix offered Klingonese subtitles for their broadcast of Star Trek: Discovery. As well, they put out a press release about the show written in Klingonese. [1]

One of the questions raised by a lawsuit against the creators of the fan film Star Trek: Axanar involved specifically identifying who owned the Klingon language and could therefore use it in that production and other unofficial films. [2]

To aid the Klingon-playing actors in Star Trek: Discovery to learn Klingonese, a tape of the language was prepared by a speaker of Klingon, and two voice coaches also assisted the performers. (AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?") Robyn Stewart oversaw the Klingonese on the show. [3] One of the actors who found these provisions especially helpful was T'Kuvma actor Chris Obi, who was at first worried that he would struggle to learn all of his character's Klingon lines but was helped to overcome his anxiety regarding the language. He recalled, "Immediately, we were told, 'Make it your own,' because it's not just making it Human, because you don't want it to be Human. You want it to represent the relationship with the word, with the sound.'" In addition to the other helpers, Obi was helped by Sonequa Martin-Green, who advised him that the Klingon language was deep inside the person speaking it, which he subsequently found to be true. (AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?")

The teasers for "Will You Take My Hand?" and "Point of Light" both open with L'Rell providing voice over in Klingon: "Hov leng: DISqa'vI'rIy - lut 'ay' vorgh." ("Previously on Star Trek: Discovery.")

According to Guinness World Records, Klingon is the most widely spoken fictional language in the world. [4]

Deleted scenes[]

The word for sex in Klingonese was "seloh". It appeared in the script for "Sins of The Father" and was mentioned in the Star Trek Encyclopedia (3rd ed., p. 436). Another phrase in the script, but not heard in the episode, was tam (be quiet!)

The term for "well done" in Klingonese was "maj-Kkah", according to the Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 2, p. 13). The reference work stated that this term came from the episode "Sons and Daughters".

The term for "no problem" in Klingonese was "Qay'be", according to the Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 2, p. 192). The reference work stated that this term came from the episode "Real Life" and explained, "The expression was devised by Klingon language consultant Marc Okrand at the request of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston, and was subsequently incorporated into the Klingon lexicon. It became a catchphrase for Ralston and his ILM crew, whenever they faced an unexpected problem or a last-minute change during the production of the movie. No matter how difficult the problem or how unusual the request might be, the proper warrior's response was a firm Qay'be!"

The Klingon language is spoken in two deleted scenes from the film Star Trek. As translated into English in subtitles which accompany those scenes, the following statements are said:

Trespassing vessel: you have entered the jurisdiction of the Klingon Empire. Power down and prepare to be boarded or you will be destroyed.
We found these papers, hidden in your cell. Who? Tell us – or you will die. Tell us! Who do they belong to?! ("Klingons Take Over Narada" & "Prison Interrogation and Breakout", Star Trek (Special Edition) DVD/Star Trek (Three disc Blu-ray)/Star Trek: The Compendium Blu-ray special features)

As scripted, more Klingon dialogue was to be spoken in the second of the two deleted scenes than is said in the final edit of that scene. In the script, the extra dialogue stated, "I have come far to meet you. 'The One Who Does Not Speak.' Ten years is a long time to maintain silence. Perhaps you simply do not speak Klingon, just as I do not speak Romulan." [5]


Composers have also used Klingon lyrics in their leitmotifs for the films. Cliff Eidelman, who composed Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country used taH pagh taHbe', a translation of "to be or not to be", for the choral parts for the score on Rura Penthe, in reference to Chang's love of William Shakespeare. [6]

For Star Trek Into Darkness, music editor Alex Levy incorporated Klingon lyrics into Michael Giacchino's score, mainly using Klingon insults to represent their fury at Kirk's intrusion of their planet. [7]

The Klingon Dictionary[]

The tlhIngan Hol dialect is featured most prominently in the Star Trek movies and intermittently in the series. Some writers on the television series followed The Klingon Dictionary fairly closely, while others did not. [8] Ronald D. Moore, noted for his major contributions to developing the Klingon culture, commented "Whether or not we use the language as spelled out in Marc's dictionary is up to the individual writer. I personally find the dictionary cumbersome and usually find it easier to make it up phonetically." (AOL chat, 1997) Marc Okrand noted that despite these departures, "[A]ny Klingon spoken during TNG counts as legitimate Klingon, whether I made it up or not, and I've incorporated all of it into the language." [9]

Such departures from Okrand's version included the following:

  • The writers made up their own Klingon words: e.g kuva'magh or pfiots, against Okrand's pronunciation rules of standard tlhIngan Hol
  • They used established Klingon words but in such a way that they were strung together without following Okrand's grammar rules, for example SoH batlh jI' for "you honor me", even though this sentence means something like "I am a honor you are". The correct translation of "you honor me" would be choquvmoH or tuquvmoH, depending on whether you referred to one person or multiple people.
  • They gave new or extended meaning based on the English translation of a word, for example pu'DaH (pronounced poo-dakh) – phasers and cha (pronounced chah) – torpedoes, becomes pu'Dah dak cha (pronounced puh-dar dack chah) meaning photon torpedoes, when Okrand had already devised ' otlh cha.
  • Okrand specified that Klingons do not have any rituals for ending conversations, since courtesy was not part of their culture. A conversation simply ends when either participant leaves. However, Qapla' ("success") is often used in dialogue where English-speaking Humans would say, "good-bye".

The sounds of the Klingon language as developed by Marc Okrand are harsh and guttural. This transliteration system was used in preparing scripts and phrases when Okrand supplied dialogue and coached pronunciation.

Below is a table providing a rough guide on how to pronounce Klingon and the standard transliteration of the sounds of Klingon, corresponding to the sounds of the standard dialect used when Okrand created the language. Other writers have introduced other sounds and concepts into the language since.

Letter Sound Letter Sound
a as in father or balm o as in go or close
b as in ball; in some dialects it is pronounced mb as in amber or m as in mess p as in pass
ch as in chess q similar to "k" but pronounced further back in the throat
D as in dead but with the tongue rolled further back; also like "nd" or "n" in some dialects Q pronounced like q but choked, a very raspy sound, very forceful,very similar to the initial "cr" phoneme in croissant.
e as in bed r as in rotary, but trilled
gh similar to "g" but softly gargled, sounds a bit like the French "r" S half-way between "s" and "sh", like "s" but with the tongue rolled back
H as in Scottish loch or German Bach t as in tops
I as in in or lift tlh like tl in bottle or Aztec tetl
j as in jump u as in snooze but shorter
l as in land v as in valve
m as in mole w as in walker or where
n as in nostril y as in young
ng as in sing, never like the "ng" in finger ' glottal stop, as in uh-oh or cockney bo(tt)le
Basic phrases[]

Below is a short list of some useful basic phrases in the tlhIngan Hol dialect, the most commonly-heard dialect used in the Empire.

English (tera'ngan Hol, DIvI' Hol) Klingonese (tlhIngan Hol)
Do you speak Klingon? tlhIngan Hol Dajatlh'a'
I don't speak Klingon. tlhIngan Hol vIjatlhbe'
Do you speak English? DIvI' Hol Dajatlh'a'
I am a Klingon. tlhIngan jIH
I understand. jIyaj
Beam me aboard! HIjol
Fire thrusters! chuyDaH
Buy or die! bIje'be'chugh vaj bIHegh
Pay now! DaH yIDIl
I am a … … jIH
Klingon, Romulan, Human tlhIngan, romuluSngan, tera'ngan
Vulcan, Ferengi, Cardassian vulqangan, verengan, qarDaSngan
Visual! HaSta
Ready torpedoes! cha yIghuS
Ready… 'eH…
Evasive! juntaH
Surrender or die! bIjeghbe'chugh vaj bIHegh
It is a good day to die! Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam
You follow me. choghoS
Come! HIghoS
Stop! yImev
What's going on? qastaH nuq
Well done! majQa'
Let's go. maghoS


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