Klingon, an original Star Trek language, is a difficult one to master, but that hasn’t stopped over 300,000 people from giving it a try on Duolingo. Whether this is for cosplay purposes or everyday language, one doesn’t know, and that’s the question Stephen Fry poses in this video. Could Klingon ever be accepted as a language?
In the video, Fry talked with D’Armond Spears, a computational linguist, who, back in the mid-nineties, taught his son, Alec, Klingon as his first language. At age two, the child was able to identify items his father pointed out in Klingon and understand terms such as “vavoy” for daddy and “waq” for shoe. Because it was primarily used for Star Trek, every day words were not created so that made things a bit more difficult for Spears when trying to teach his son words like bottle and diaper. And, after a couple of years, Alec lost interest in the language, perhaps because no one besides his father could speak it.
Klingon, though fully developed by Marc Orkrand, was originally devised by actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on Star Trek: The Original Series, and Jon Povill who was the producer for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which marked the first time the language was heard on screen. And though the language is popular among us Star Trek lovers, it’s only able to be used among the fandom unless others have chosen to learn it.
So could it ever be accepted as a language? If there were enough people wanting to learn it and use it, certainly, but Klingon is one of those languages you have to really want to know. It’s guttural and rough and doesn’t allow for easy conversations like if you want to talk to your friend about the last movie they saw. Klingon is a language for warriors, and while it could certainly be further developed, it would be a hard-sell as a second language.