Star Trek: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Klingon Language

9. Okrand The Unforgettable

Dr. Marc Okrand obtained his PhD in the study of Native American languages and worked on the first closed-captioning system. His involvement with Star Trek came when he met Wrath of Khan producer Harve Bennett, who recruited him to create dialogue in Vulcan (between Saavik and Spock) to dub into the movie over the English that was originally spoken by the actors.

After this, Okrand got the call to work on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock to develop the Klingon to be used in the film. He began by listening to the sounds that James Doohan had invented for The Motion Picture, transcribing them to form a basis for the language’s grammar and vocabulary.

In the end, Okrand had created translations in Klingon for each line of dialogue in the movie and had written out each phonetically for the actors to learn. Okrand also consulted with the actors on set and approved the accuracy of the Klingon for director Leonard Nimoy after each take. If an actor made a mistake, but the line still sounded good in Klingon, it wouldn’t be reshot. Okrand simply altered the grammar of the language as it was forming to fit with what was said on screen.

Okrand then went on to write The Klingon Dictionary, Klingon for the Galactic Traveler, The Klingon Way, and other works that would make Klingon a fully-fledged language. He also worked on the Klingon for Star Trek V and VI and created the Kelpien language that was first used in the Short Treks episode The Brightest Star.

It should be noted that for 'Klingonists' (those who learn, speak, and study the language), Okrand, as the creator of the language, is the only source of its canon through his works and pronouncements.

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Jack Kiely is a writer with a PhD in French and almost certainly an unhealthy obsession with Star Trek.