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I watch Big Bang Theory a lot and notice they sometimes speak to each other in Klingon and I remember at one point seeing a poster, when I was little, with a bunch of Klingon phrases for like, "where is the bathroom" and "please kill me honorably" or something like that.

So, is the Klingon language as it was used in the show an actual fully-fledged language, one that you could learn and use as a primary means of communication (assuming there are people who can understand you), or did it just develop when certain phrases were needed in the shows and movies?

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    The language is a full language complete with it's own syntax and grammar. James Doohan (Scotty) helped make it, his degree is in linguistics – dkuntz2 Feb 6 '11 at 19:55
  • While Klingon adherents claim that Klingon is a fully realised language, it's notable that Trek writers were told that they didn't have to stick to it. Any klingon words or phrases they invented were simply incorporated into the Klingon Dictionary, regardless of whether they fit any of the "rules" that Okrand had made up since. – Valorum May 2 '16 at 14:05
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    The first comment confuses James Doohan with Marc Okrand. James Doohan made up the Klingon phrases for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. They were just random sounds, without any regard for grammar. Marc Okrand (whose degree is in linguistics) subsequently created the Klingon language, which has a real grammar, using Doohan's phrases as a basis. He has also retroactively incorporated other Klingon phrases invented by the show's writers into Klingon canon. – dlyongemallo May 2 '16 at 20:38
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Apparently some literary works have been translated into Klingon, including:

So it does appear Klingon is a full-fledged language.

There's also a nonprofit organization, The Klingon Language Institute, with resources on how to learn Klingon (among other Klingon related resources).

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    Don't forget the Bible, that's pretty impressive.. – PearsonArtPhoto Jan 22 '11 at 18:05
  • @Pearsonartphoto : Wow, didn't know that. Looked it up, but apparently they haven't translated the whole Bible yet. Bold project though! – 13Tazer31 Jan 22 '11 at 18:10
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    There's a Klingon Bible? Is Khaless in it? – Slick23 Jan 22 '11 at 18:38
  • @FinalDraft Khaless is really just the Klingon Jesus. Teaching his contemporaries his interpretation of righteousness(or honour), storyteller, second comming, festivities re-enacting his deeds... – MPelletier Jan 23 '11 at 4:43
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    I've seen a performance of a Klingon version of Dicken's Christmas Carol. I know no Klingon, and couldn't verify that they were using it properly, but it sure sounded like a play in a foreign language. – David Thornley Jan 25 '11 at 2:49
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To follow up, it is a fully realized, constructed language , like esperanto or loglan. Mark Okrand, a linguist, was hired by Paramount to create it for the movies, starting with Star Trek III.

There's a pretty good list of constructed languages at Omniglot as well.

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    Maybe this will send my rep plummeting, but I'd never heard of esperanto or loglan. – Slick23 Jan 22 '11 at 23:34
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    @Final Draft - I downvote your comment in my head. :) – neilfein Jan 23 '11 at 0:20
  • @Final Draft: they’ve got a thing for that these days :-) – PLL Feb 7 '11 at 5:37
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    It bears some structural similarities to Swahili in constructing sentential forms with multiple prefixes and suffixes. – luser droog Oct 7 '11 at 1:08
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    Klingon became a full-fledged language more during the TNG and DS9 series. There was Klingon in ST3 (because there were Klingons in ST3; the first movie they showed back up in) but if you listen, a lot of phrases translated one way are used offhand as background babble in situations where the phase would make no sense. I would argue it didn't become a meaningful language (such that you could translate anything to/from English) until ST6/DS9 in the early 90s. – KeithS Nov 1 '11 at 15:24
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Klingon has several characteristics of a living language, including at least one child who was raise bilingual in Klingon (which wasn't child abuse, it's now worse than growing up bilingual in Spanish), and at least one couple where both people can or do speak Klingon at home (I have Captain Krankor in mind). Also, in the world of endangered languages, linguists look to see if there is at least one domain (social arena, such as home, school or work) where the language is still used-- in Klingon's case (and Esperanto) there is, at the annual Klingon convention, many people vow to only speak Klingon and do so. On the other hand, remarkable as Klingon success is, it is just a shadow of what Esperanto's community is and again, both are probably just a shadow of the vitality of say a language in Africa with 10,000 speakers who speak their language all day as their only language.

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I am a speaker of Klingon. It is a full-fledged language, in the sense that it has a developed grammar and thousands of words, though it is lacking vocabulary for some things.

In some contexts, it can be used as the primary language of communication. For example, there are two major yearly Klingon speakers' conferences, the qep'a' (literally, "major conference") which is in North America, and the qepHom (literally, "minor conference") which takes place in Europe. (For many years now, the qepHom has had more attendees than the qep'a', but that's how they were initially named and the names have stuck.) At these events, some speakers make "the vow", which is not to speak any language but Klingon. I've attended the qepHom for a number of years, and have communicated using only Klingon with some people there.

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