One Star Trek actor created the Vulcan and Klingon languages.
Star Trek fans may know him as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, the Scottish member of the U.S.S. Enterprise but to many fans, he was known simply as James Doohan, one of the stars of the Original Series. Doohan was a well-trained, Canadian actor (not Scottish), who not only developed the accent Scotty would use on the series and in the films, but would also lend his voice to several aliens as well.
What fans may not know about Doohan is that, while being a well-trained actor, and understanding linguistics well enough to slide in and out of accents, Doohan used those techniques to help create the bases for the Vulcan and Klingon languages.
"In another massively significant contribution to the Trek universe, Doohan vocalized the languages of Klingon and Vulcan for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He came up with the basic sounds and some words. Later, linguist Marc Okrand would build an entire Klingon language around Doohan’s growls and guttural intonations."
James Doohan’s contributions helped shape the Star Trek franchise
More from Star Trek
- Has Star Trek Technology gotten out of control?
- Playmate Toys ends Star Trek action figure development
- Majel Barrett Roddenberry thought Nurse Chapel was a “loser”
- Should Star Trek producers consider a Mirror Universe TV series?
- Patrick Stewart continues the trend of learning from his Star Trek character
While it’s true that Doohan only came up with a more general idea of the language, allowing for Marc Okrand to develop the rest of the language, what Doohan did made a significant impact on the franchise in a profound way.
He created a language that is so popular that it’s actually taught in some colleges and people can actually take classes and major in it. It’s the landmark for fictional languages in fantasy and science fiction. While other works like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series also helped establish fictional languages that fans can recite (see Stephen Colbert’s love of the franchise as evidence of that) not even the languages in Tolkien’s books grew to the level of Klingon in terms of popularity.
It’s those types of contributions and additions to a franchise that helps make things seem even more grandiose and spectacular.
We all have Mr. Doohan to thank for some of that.