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Sofa King
10-01-2001, 12:51 PM
First episode of Enterprise. Story gets wrapped up in a nice little package, but not before the Klingon boss "thanks" the Captain by waving a knife before his throat and saying a couple of words.

"What did he say?" asks the Captain of his translator.

"You don't want to know," she answers.

Well, I want to know. Klingon is at this point a "real" language, in that it has a vocabulary, a grammar, and a modest number of Klingon speakers.

Unfortunately, the Klingon Language Institute (http://www.kli.org/) has not answered this important question. Here is a list (http://www.kli.org/tlh/phrases.html) of common phrases, which might help.

It is a somewhat important question. A number of readers of the SDMB have expressed their concern (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=89659) that this show is already suffering from inconsistencies with the Star Trek universe. Bad writing and poor research is implied by others. Therefore, I'm looking to see if what the Klingon said is "correct" Klingon, in addition to finding out what it was that he said, in both Klingon and English.

Thank you in advance for your answers.

Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam!

Cliffy
10-01-2001, 12:57 PM
I don't speak Klingon and so do not have an answer, but it's my understanding that the shows never tried that hard to have Klingon dialogue rendered correctly.

--Cliffy

Una Persson
10-01-2001, 01:04 PM
Well, I personally cannot wait to find out which Dopers speak Klingon, so I can taunt them mercilessly. ;)

Ethilrist
10-01-2001, 01:24 PM
Oh, fine. You're going to make me go watch it a fourth time, aren't you?

One of the klingons said something about Stobokhor, however it's spelled (aka sic), was that the time? Or was it Tiny Lister?

Saltire
10-01-2001, 01:56 PM
Originally posted by Ethilrist
Oh, fine. You're going to make me go watch it a fourth time, aren't you?

One of the klingons said something about Stobokhor, however it's spelled (aka sic), was that the time? Or was it Tiny Lister? That was in the Enterprise sickbay, when Klang the Klingon (sounds like someone Barney the Dinosaur might know) was babbling deleriously. Hoshi translated it as something about "eating the afterlife." As all us trekkers know, Stovokor (sp?) is the Klingon version of Valhalla.

The part that Sofa King is asking about was at the end, after they've delivered Klang to Kronos (should be Quo'nos, actually) and the Klingon leader says something while holding a knife to Archer's throat. He then lowers the knife and turns his back on the humans.

I don't speak Klingon, but my guess would be something along the lines of, "I won't kill you yet." About as close to "Thanks, buddy" as a human can expect from a Klingon, particularly in this time period.

Revtim
10-01-2001, 02:55 PM
I have it on reasonably good authority that he said "If you can understand this, get a friggin' life!"

douglips
10-01-2001, 02:59 PM
I have nothing to add except:

Klingon speakers now outnumber Navajo speakers (http://www.theonion.com/onion3526/klingon_navajo.html)

Alzarian
10-01-2001, 02:59 PM
Since we're talking about a good century before the original Star Trek, might it not be in an older style Klingonese, which may mean, it would be difficult to interpret properly...

SPOOFE
10-01-2001, 03:36 PM
He said "All your base are belong to us."

dwtno
10-01-2001, 03:47 PM
Sorry, no answer here either, but I will say this. . .

If I had written this episode, I would have made damn sure that the phrase was untranslatable. The gag is lost if an enterprising (heh) fan actually derived meaning from the foreign phrase. In fact, just to reinforce the gag, I would have made the other Klingon lines in the episode translatable, but not this one.

Waverly
10-01-2001, 03:49 PM
I just wanted to add this (http://snltranscripts.jt.org/scripts/86hgetalife.phtml) famous SNL sketch featuring William Shatner to the discussion. I am reminded of it at times like these.

D&R

Alzarian
10-01-2001, 05:16 PM
"All your base are belong to us."

If this is the literal translation, one could assume that this is an idiom which just doesn't make sense to non-native speakers.

A more likely explanation may be that the translator just didn't quite understand what was said, and decided rather than say she didn't know, decided to cover her own butt.

This would of course lead the captain to assume that the Klingons dissed him, setting up future conflict, and leading to an interstellar war, which would cost millions of lives...

The moral of the story, is if you don't know, say so, especially in the high stakes game of interstellar diplomacy! ;-)

Inky-
10-01-2001, 05:51 PM
Not to go off topic, but let's go off-topic for a second.

Okay, am I right in thinking that the secet information was encoded in the klingon's DNA? And that's why he was involved with the spongy lady from that race of people who mess with their DNA (above and beyond the fact that she was a rebel leader)?

Also, is Klingon technology high, but just sort of stagnant throughout the whole ST series?

Are they conspiciously ignoring the fact that Klingons all merely looked like they were Mexican or Spanish or whatever in the original ST?

Balthisar
10-01-2001, 06:00 PM
Originally posted by Inky-
Are they conspiciously ignoring the fact that Klingons all merely looked like they were Mexican or Spanish or whatever in the original ST?

I remember the "Deep Space 9" episode where they went back to the orginal series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" (or something like that); you know: back in time. Whorf was with them, and the girl with the snake in her gut (name???) asked Whorf, in reference to the relatively human-looking Klingons, "Those are Klingons? What happened?" To which Whorf replied "It's a long story."

Okay, the quotes are paraphrased, but this kinda blows the consistency of this whole, made-up universe. :)

fierra
10-01-2001, 06:29 PM
Originally posted by Balthisar
and the girl with the snake in her gut (name???)

Jadzia Dax
"Those are Klingons? What happened?" To which Whorf replied "It's a long story."

Okay, the quotes are paraphrased, but this kinda blows the consistency of this whole, made-up universe. :)
It was more like an embarrassed, growly "we don't talk about it" in a don't ask again fashion. At least they tackled it head on instead of skipping round it.

Saint Zero
10-01-2001, 06:53 PM
Originally posted by Inky-
Are they conspiciously ignoring the fact that Klingons all merely looked like they were Mexican or Spanish or whatever in the original ST?

The idea B&B are following, is that Gene would have wanted his Klingon's to look like they did in the movies and later shows. Makeup wasn't up to the standard yet. So now it's a bit of retroactive continuity they're doing.

Doesn't bother me. :)

Caldazar
10-01-2001, 07:41 PM
Chancellor:

"ChugDah hegh ...volcha va"

Chug: If
Dah: Now, today
hegh: to die, death
volcha: shoulder
va: (signifying an exclaimation)

However:

vah: sheath, knife case

The Chancellor could very well have been saying "I won't kill you today." (I won't stab you in the shoulder to bring about your death today).

Just my WAG.

luckyloo
10-01-2001, 07:41 PM
I can't remember for the life of me where I got this from, but I heard that the origional mexi-klingons were genetically altered to look more human. Something along the lines that humans had to totally rethink their estimation of klingon technology when they found this out. I really wish I remembered the source on this one.

So yeah, if anyone can verify this, they did ignore the history.

bcullman
10-01-2001, 07:59 PM
Originally posted by luckyloo
I can't remember for the life of me where I got this from, but I heard that the origional mexi-klingons were genetically altered to look more human. Something along the lines that humans had to totally rethink their estimation of klingon technology when they found this out. I really wish I remembered the source on this one.

So yeah, if anyone can verify this, they did ignore the history.


Ya know, with that genetic thing he was carrying, perhaps the writers are actually setting up for the era where Klingons looked more human like. So it might finally be explained after all.

Ethilrist
10-02-2001, 08:53 AM
Originally posted by Inky-
Also, is Klingon technology high, but just sort of stagnant throughout the whole ST series?

Are they conspiciously ignoring the fact that Klingons all merely looked like they were Mexican or Spanish or whatever in the original ST?

1. Paramount is on record as saying that they're not going to say anything about it. In the context of the universe, the Klings are likewise on record as saying that they're not going to say anything about it (as quoted above).

2. Klingons aren't real big on science or research; most of their technology comes from slave races they conquered. Once they run out of wimpy races to conquer, all they have left are the ones who know how to make fast ships, guns, and shields (like, say, Humans, Vulcans, and Romulans...), and suddenly the fight gets a little tougher... so they seem to stagnate.

Chas.E
10-02-2001, 09:35 AM
let the coal-fueled taunting begin!

bibliophage
10-02-2001, 10:13 AM
Cafe Society is a better place for discussing the change in appearance of Klingons. I'd rather keep the the language question here because it may well have a factual answer.

bibliophage
moderator GQ

Milton De La Warre
10-02-2001, 12:23 PM
Oh God. Klingon speakers outnumber Navajo speakers. First the WTC bombing, now this. The world is definitely going to Hell.

What I'd like to know is where Klingon-sprach comes from IN REAL LIFE. Was it just pulled out of some TV writer's ass, or was it a composition of other existing languages like JRR Tolkien's novel's languages?

Kilt-wearin' man
10-02-2001, 12:38 PM
It's a real, synthetic language created for the Star Trek movies (STIII, I think)by a linguist so that it would sound "right" and completely foreign. It has its own syntax rules as well as a couple of different dialects, and the actors work pretty hard to pronounce it right, because according to them when they make a mistake it doesn't sound as good.

So there. I don't speak Klingon, but I have the Klingon Dictionary.

Bluepony
10-02-2001, 12:56 PM
Originally posted by Revtim
I have it on reasonably good authority that he said "If you can understand this, get a friggin' life!"

Amen. I have to put up with this when my 38-year old unmarried cousin inflicts his yearly visit on me. Then he wonders why he isn't meeting the right women. I'm thinking that fluency in the Klingon language isn't real high on single women's checklists for eligible husbands.

Also I told him that, when we're in the car, if he translates one more traffic sign or direction in Klingon, I will beat him up and leave his Trekkie carcass for the dogs.

AWB
10-02-2001, 02:08 PM
Originally posted by Balthisar
Originally posted by Inky-
Are they conspiciously ignoring the fact that Klingons all merely looked like they were Mexican or Spanish or whatever in the original ST?

I remember the "Deep Space 9" episode where they went back to the orginal series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" (or something like that); you know: back in time. Whorf was with them, and the girl with the snake in her gut (name???) asked Whorf, in reference to the relatively human-looking Klingons, "Those are Klingons? What happened?" To which Whorf replied "It's a long story."

Okay, the quotes are paraphrased, but this kinda blows the consistency of this whole, made-up universe. :)


DS9 episode: "Trials and Tribble-ations".
Worf (no 'h') was talking to O'Brien, Bashir, and Odo in the space station's bar.
Hi, Opal.
Dax (woman with simbiant [snake in your parlance]) wasn't in the scene. Besides, Dax has lived several centuries and actually knew Capt. Koloth. Dax probably knew Klingons that weren't ridged-headed, and possibly knew why some Klingons had been both.

Sofa King
10-02-2001, 02:39 PM
Hey, Caldazar, that was a pretty dang skippy WAG. Are you pretty certain of that translation?

Caldazar
10-02-2001, 04:42 PM
Sure of the quote and the meanings of the basic words? Yes. Sure of the overall meaning? Nope.

The online "Klingon-English" dictionary I used can be found at:

http://www.geocities.com/duppim1/TKD.html

And heck, there's always the possibility that the phrase doesn't follow any convention at all and is just plain gibberish.

Balthisar
10-02-2001, 06:41 PM
Originally posted by AWB

DS9 episode: "Trials and Tribble-ations".
Worf (no 'h') was talking to O'Brien, Bashir, and Odo in the space station's bar.
Hi, Opal.
Dax (woman with simbiant [snake in your parlance]) wasn't in the scene. Besides, Dax has lived several centuries and actually knew Capt. Koloth. Dax probably knew Klingons that weren't ridged-headed, and possibly knew why some Klingons had been both.


Thanks for the corrections and the added info. I wrote "Worf" then changed it to "Whorf" 'cos it didn't look right! As for the symbiant, yeah, it's a disgusting, little snake -- at least in the world of "Star Gate." :)

TheeGrumpy
10-03-2001, 11:44 AM
Originally posted by Kilt-wearin' man
It's a real, synthetic language created for the Star Trek movies (STIII, I think)by a linguist so that it would sound "right" and completely foreign.

When Marc Okrand developed the language, he incorporated the mono-syllabic grunts heard in "ST:TMP". Gelled pretty well, too. And lengthy Klingon dialog can also be heard in ST5 & 6.

Given all this, we're left wondering why the TV guys so often ignore established Klingon syntax, or make a half-assed attempt. We're also left wondering why, when a starship captain asks for a translation of an alien dialect, his interpreter sees fit to say "You don't want to know." You don't want to know? Sounds like CYA to me; she doesn't know what she's doing!

Chronos
10-03-2001, 08:58 PM
The Klingon language was based primarily on Hungarian. It's too much work to build a whole language from scratch, and you don't want something easily identifiable (Hey! Why are all the aliens speaking French?). Hungarian is rather an oddball among Earthling languages: There's no known languages which appear to be closely related to it. There seem to be some vague ties to Korean, but last I heard, nobody was quite sure why or how.

matt_mcl
10-04-2001, 12:28 AM
Originally posted by Chronos
The Klingon language was based primarily on Hungarian. It's too much work to build a whole language from scratch, and you don't want something easily identifiable (Hey! Why are all the aliens speaking French?). Hungarian is rather an oddball among Earthling languages: There's no known languages which appear to be closely related to it. There seem to be some vague ties to Korean, but last I heard, nobody was quite sure why or how.

I think you've gotten your wires crossed somewhere. Hungarian (Magyar) is, as far as I know, rather firmly established to be in the Ugric branch of the Uralic language family. Other languages in the branch include Ostyak and Vogul, and other languages in the family include Finnish, Estonian, Sami (Lappish), Karelian, and Cheremis.

Perhaps you are thinking of Basque, which indeed appears to have appeared out of nowhere. One amusing speculation I heard had it somehow related to the Na-Dene language family, some of which, if you're wondering, are spoken in the Northwest Territories.

Milton De La Warre
10-04-2001, 07:01 AM
While we're touching on Na-Dene, can someone confirm the truth of the "Onion" post earlier that there are now more fluent Klingon speakers than fluent Navajo speakers?

Bluepony: Right on! It kind of makes one wish they'd just used something like Navajo or Doric (~Spartan) Greek instead of the Hungarian-and-whatever goulash so that at least Trekkies would be learning something mildly useful or culturally valueable. Such a use would also tend to lead people studying "Klingon" that they do indeed need a life because it's just a freaking television show.

What's Klingon for "If you can understand this, you need to find a better use for your time"?

Alereon
10-04-2001, 07:22 AM
Umm, The Onion post, while I wouldn't be surprised to find it was true, is probably not factually based. The Onion is a satire newspaper which has featured such lovely headlines as "Laura Bush noisily devours infant." Check out http://www.theonion.com for other headlines.

FDISK

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