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From the perspective of viewers of the Star Trek franchise, Klingon is a constructed language, constructed by the creators of the franchise. It is probably one of the most famous constructed languages, along with Esperanto.

However, within-universe, is Klingon a constructed language, or a natural language? Are there statements about whether it's a constructed or natural language? Have the creators of Klingon tried to make it look like a natural language, or look like a constructed language?

  • 1
    I loved the episode where Marc Okrand visited Quo’nos and said “Guys you sound like idiots. Stop killing each other and open your textbooks to page wa'.” – Paul D. Waite Jun 22 '14 at 15:06
  • @PaulD.Waite - I find it immensely enjoyable listening to people arguing that Klingon is a real language. – Valorum Jun 22 '14 at 17:07
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    @Richard - tlhIngan Hol real SoH 'Iw Solpu'bogh Qay'wI' joq tu'lu'bej – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 22 '14 at 18:35
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    @dvk - Well your accent is terrible and what did you say about my mother? – Valorum Jun 22 '14 at 20:44
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In-universe, the Klingon language is one that evolved naturally on the Klingon homeworld;

There are various accounts within Enterprise and TNG of "ancient Klingon" and "medieval Klingon", suggesting a linguistic tradition that goes back tens of thousands of years and that pre-dates recorded and written history...

TARQUIN: Have you had a chance to look at the book I gave you?
[...]
TARQUIN: What did you think of it?
HOSHI: It's an interesting language, reminds me of medieval Klingon.

Mark Okrand, the creator of the Klingon language offered a potted history of the evolution of the (now-unified) single language in his Klingon for the Galactic Traveler:

"The current linguistic situation in the Klingon Empire is a rather complex one that can be somewhat better understood in the light of a bit of history. Klingon mythology holds that over 1,500 years ago, Kahless the Unforgettable actually created the Klingon Empire by overthrowing the tyrant Molor. [...] Before Kahless united them, however, the peoples of Kronos, the Klingon Homeworld, consisted of disparate groups [...], with different customs and sometimes different languages. As the Empire expanded, as other planets were [...] conquered or incorporated, an even greater number of distinct cultures and languages became part of the overall mix"

"In terms of language, there are regions within the Empire where the ancestral languages are still spoken, though in a somewhat changed form. In short, within the Empire there are several languages, and the major languages (that is, those with the most speakers) are spoken in a number of versions or dialects.

The official language of the Klingon Empire, the language used for all official purposes, descended from that spoken by Kahless (and, for that matter, also by Molor)."

(edited for brevity and clarity)

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    That description makes it sound a lot like English: it first came into being over 1500 years ago, many other languages are spoken but not as widely (not quite the case yet with English but getting there), is a "melting pot" of languages, etc. – trysis Jun 22 '14 at 16:08
  • @trysis - Yes, albeit with the difference that within the same timescale the Klingons experienced an invasion from outer space and several other species on nearby planets before settling on a unified language. – Valorum Jun 22 '14 at 16:23
  • True. With English it's more like England invaded other places (countries, not planets, but still). Although when in the history did the invasion happen? If it were early enough, it could be akin to the Visigoths/Vikings/etc. invasions of post-Rome-downfall England. – trysis Jun 22 '14 at 17:10
  • The Klingons apparently had a unified language in 900AD. They were invaded in approximately 1400AD and acquired warp drive at much the same time; en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Hur%27q – Valorum Jun 22 '14 at 17:12
  • So sort of the same timeline, and the Visigoths, etc. probably had slightly better tech. For a closer analogy England wouldn't have had ships capable of reaching other countries until the invaders came, and would have "acquired" these ships once they came, but it's pretty close anyway. – trysis Jun 22 '14 at 17:17

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