Worf obviously knows Klingon as he has been seen translating Klingon phrases for his Federation colleagues.

Gowron: We shall see. (in Klingon) CHEGH-chew jaj-VAM jaj-KAK!

Worf: He said, "Today is a good day to die."

DS9: The Way of the Warrior

But having been mostly raised by humans, he would be proficient in English as well (or Russian possibly... but an Earth language nonetheless).

So, what language does Worf regularly use throughout the shows? Does he speak Klingon and let the Universal Translators do their job or does he speak English, switching it up while in Klingon company?

Why this question is interesting:

Klingons tend to look down on Worf for "abandoning" his Klingon heritage in favor of Federation ideals. Despite his efforts to be as Klingon as possible, he's still an outcast among his people. If Klingon isn't his native language and he speaks it with an accent or speaks in English instead, it gives Klingons another reason to think of Worf as an outsider no matter how many times he proves his honor in other ways.


I'm aware of the inconsistencies in the way the universal translators decide to translate, especially when dealing with the Klingon language (which is what makes this question so hard for me to figure out on my own). What I'm looking for is something in the dialogue or some other sort of reference that indicates what language he's using. Perhaps a Klingon who pokes fun at Worf's accent/improper use of the Klingon language or looking down on him for spending most of his time speaking like a human. Something like that.

  • 5
    Words come later. It is the scent that first speaks of Worf. Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 14:22
  • 4
    Since he has to translate Klingon for everyone, despite them all having translators, why do you think he could be speaking Klingon and letting the translator handle it?
    – user40790
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 14:37
  • 3
    @Axelord - Because Klingons in general are translated well. Only a handful of phrases go untranslated. Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 14:57
  • 18
    In a surprise to everyone, Esperanto. Worf plays by his own rules.
    – Paul
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 15:10

1 Answer 1


(From my comment on my previous answer) It would be impossible to tell. It is believed that the Universal Translator can fit in a Starfleet officer’s Combadge. If this is true, then unless you find Worf tapping it (or somehow interacting with it), when actually speaking Klingon (sometimes he speaks Klingon and we hear it), Worf may be capable of speaking English without a Universal Translator. Also, you made a mistake because when he speaks to Klingons, he often speaks in Klingon and English. Also, Worf lost his parents in 2346 (when he was 6 years old) when the Romulans attacked the Khitomer colony. Worf grew up in a Klingon society for six years of his childhood until he became part of a human society (in which he got his foster parents). However, Worf is still a native Klingon and I would expect that he would be capable of speaking Klingon, just as he is capable following all the traditions and customs of Klingons.

However, in season 1, episode 19 (Heart of Glory), three Klingon fugitives come aboard the Enterprise, they speak to Worf about how for a Klingon to serve on a human Starfleet vessel. Worf tells the computer “O’mat gri t’m pffiots” (a type of Klingon food), with no noticeable objection from the Konmel and Korris. This makes me believe that Worf speaks Klingon and English both fluently. Notice that whenever a Klingon ship is seen and its crew communicates to the Enterprise’s bridge they always speak in English, because they are capable of it; in season 2, episode 8 (“A Matter of Honor”), Riker comes aboard a Klingon vessel as a participant of the “Officer Exchange Program”. At some point when Riker takes the oath to obey Captain Kargan’s orders, Lieutenant Klag objects and tells Kargan that Riker is lying in Klingon; Captain Kargan tells Lieutenant Klag also in Klingon to “Speak in their language!” I am not sure why the Klingon fugitives aboard the Enterprise in “Heart of Glory” do not prefer to speak Klingon with Worf. This post may be an explanation as to why the Klingons prefer to speak to Worf in English, however it still comes back to the idea that they are using a Universal Translator. I could not find any episode in which a Klingon accuses Worf of not being able to speak Klingon well. Konmel specifically says, “Tell me, what is it like for the hunter to lie down with the prey”. Korris says, “Does it make you gentle”. The fugitives believe that Worf is like them, that humans have been forcing him to act with kindness. Worf says, “Yes... yes, those feelings are still a part of me. But I control them. They do not rule me” At about the end of the episode, Korris says to Worf, “You are a sham. My words were dust upon the ground. Your blood has no fire. You are weak like them. I don’t care what you look like—you are no Klingon!” Worf is found as an outcast in other perspectives from Klingons, but I believe not because of the way he speaks.

  • You're right that it would be impossible to tell solely based on the language used during filming. But it's entirely possible that there's dialogue somewhere in which he's accused by other Klingons of having a poor grasp on the language or being made fun of for spending so much time speaking like a human. I know the universal translators are completely inconsistent throughout the shows so I'm not asking that his native language be derived from the language we've heard on screen; I'm asking for dialogue or other references that indicate what language he uses. Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 14:30
  • I have updated my answer, I would appreciate if you reviewed it @TheIronCheek
    – Guy
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 17:35
  • I'm not sure what you're answer is. Is it just that "it would be impossible to tell"? The rest of your answer seems to argue that he knew both Klingon and English, a point that was already stated in my question. There's not much in your answer that. Sometimes Klingon words get translated to English by the translators, sometimes they don't. There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to it other than narrative reasoning so I don't think your examples can be used to determine with any certainty what language is normally spoken. Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 17:47
  • 1
    I do not believe there is a need for a Universal Translator for Worf. After all he served as a Lieutenant on Enterprise-D and then as a Lieutenant Commander on Defiant. I believe that a Starfleet member of his rank should be capable of speaking fluent English - he went to Starfleet Academy and was successful. I see no reason why Worf shouldn’t be capable of speaking English. @TheIronCheek
    – Guy
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 18:37
  • 1
    I'm not arguing that he isn't capable of speaking in English. I'm just not convinced that he normally chooses to speak in English because of the way the universal translators work. Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 18:47

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