Klingon is one of hundreds of ‘constructed languages’. These are languages that have been invented for a specific purpose. They range from the most widely spoken languages such as Esperanto – auxiliary languages, to engineered languages devised with the aim of testing hypotheses, to those artistic languages created and used in books and films.
These artistic languages are ones that have been designed specifically for use within a fictional setting.
Authors have been known to create languages or registers in order to add an authenticity to their creations. Anthony Burgess, for example, author of A Clockwork Orange, designed the secret language Nadsat.
It is not an entirely invented language – as some other constructed languages are – in that there are no developed rules of grammar and it is made up of a mixture of existing words from various languages as well as invented ones. It was used as a communication tool between the youth in the novel. Burgess’ intention was that it would be a form of slang that could fulfil the purpose of highlighting the main character’s separation from the main society but which would also not be constrained to just one era – making it as effective to anyone reading it, no matter what the slang of the time.
Klingon was created by linguist Dr. Mark Okrand for the fictional alien race the Klingons in the well-known Star Trek films and television series. Instead of just a few words to create the impression of an alien language being spoken, Okrand developed an entire language, with its own vocabulary, grammar and rules of usage. According to estimates there could be around 20 – 30 fluent speakers of the Warrior’s Tongue and there is even the Klingon Language Institute as well as “Learn Klingon” discs and websites.
In one particular case, this constructed language has extended far beyond its original purpose and has helped a man suffering with dyslexia to deal with the condition more effectively. The fifty-year-old man, Jonathan Brown, spent 12 years learning the alien language and has explained that though he had always had problems when reading in the past, this didn’t happen with Klingon. He believes this is because Klingon words are stored in a different way in his brain.
It seems then that constructed languages can be used for many different purposes – whether it is to broker peace, to wage fierce battles against enemy alien races or to help someone better deal with a problem they have suffered with all their life. Language, constructed or naturally developed, can be a powerful tool and the benefits of learning other languages are clear to see.
“tlhngan Hol Dajatlh’a’?” What do you think; should constructed languages be viewed as an important part of the future? Can they be used more effectively for new purposes, such as helping people suffering with dyslexia?
Perhaps we should consider adding Elvish to the list of languages for translation and interpreting here at Lingua Translations. But for now if you’d like to learn more about the languages we already work with, please visit https://www.lingua-translations.com/languages.