How many times has this happened to you?
You approach a stoplight as it’s about to turn red. Being a responsible driver, you slowly apply the break and come to a complete stop.
Suddenly you hear the screeching of tires behind you. You brace yourself for what you know is coming. You hear the sound of crunching metal as you feel the shock of your vehicle being struck from behind.
You stumble from your vehicle, slightly shaken, trying to rub the pain from back of your neck. As you survey the damage, you see the driver of the other vehicle stomping toward you from the corner of your eye. “Are you okay?” you ask as you turn to face him.
“Rah arg bah,” he bellows into your face. A blast of hot putrid breath startles you and sends you reeling. You try to steady yourself as you wipe the spit from you face. A sinking feeling comes over you with the realization that you’ve just been rear-ended by a Klingon.
“Do you have insurance?” you ask apprehensively, aware of the fact that Klingons are notoriously irresponsible drivers.
“Mok tuk bah,” he sneers derisively as he jabs his crooked Klingon finger in the direction of the stoplight.
“Listen mister, that light was clearly about to turn red.” You call him mister hoping that he’s male; it’s so hard to tell with their weird wrinkled faces.
“MOK TUK BAH,” he screams at you with even more force.
“So that’s how it’s going to be,” you calmly reply, again wiping the spit from your face. This time his spit seems to contain chunks of something that was recently alive. You vomit in your mouth a little.
A lengthy argument ensues. Tensions flare. In the heat of the moment you say something unfortunate about the virtue of his Klingon mother being defiled by Captain Kirk. You soon discover–at ridiculous odds– that this is the one phrase that translates directly from English to Klingon.
You find yourself staring at the end of a menacing Klingon weapon of war.
You swiftly make an attempt to apologize. You now discover the phrase “I’m sorry” in Klingon roughly translates: stab me repeatedly.
As you lie on the pavement bleeding to death, you wonder if a better grasp of the Klingon language could have helped you avoid this grisly end.
To reiterate my initial question: How many times has happened to you? It hasn’t…ever…and it never will. Klingons are a fictitious race from a fictitious planet invented in the mind of Gene Roddenberry.
However, there is a Klingon language; a language that people endeavor to learn and speak.
Why would a person endeavor to learn and speak a language spoken by a nonexistent race? I decided to ask a person who makes a habit of publicly speaking Klingon.
The following is a verbatim recalling of that conversation–apart from the bits that are a result of my faulty memory–with Klingon speaking Ed.
Note: His real name isn’t Ed. I’ve changed the name to protect the innocent. The innocent being myself; Ed’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
Me: So, what’s up with this whole speaking Klingon thing?
Ed: Isn’t it obvious why I speak Klingon?
Me: I dunno, have all the normal ways in which you repel women begun to fail?
Ed: MOK TUK BAH.
Me: Nope, (wiping the spit from my face) you’re as repellent as ever.
Ed: Klingon is the language of a noble warrior race.
Me: Of course it is. It just seems to me that it would be more useful to learn a language you may encounter on this planet, such as French.
Ed: French is hardly the language of a noble warrior race.
Me: Point taken. What about Spanish, a lot of people speak that language?
Ed: No way, Mexican food gives me gas.
Me: Does it? I’m curious, is there a Klingon word for non sequitur?
Ed: I don’t know what that is.
Me: You don’t know what a non sequitur is, or a girlfriend who isn’t imaginary.
Ed: What’s your point?
Me: My point is: speaking Klingon doesn’t seem very useful.
Ed: Not useful? People don’t screw you when you speak Klingon.
Me: Really, you speak Klingon and people screw with you constantly.
Ed: That’s not true.
Me: Yes it is.
Ed: Name one time.
Me: Well, I’m pretty much screwing with you right now.
Ed: I don’t think so.
Me: It feels like I am.
Ed: Klingons are hyper-aware of their surroundings.
Me: You do realize you’re not a Klingon?
Ed: Of course I do; I’m more of an idiot savant.
Me: Well, you’re half-way to an idiot savant.
Ed: MOK TUK BAH.
I wiped the spit from my face as I watched him storm away in a huff.
Note: Klingons never storm away in a huff.
So the next time you get rear-ended at a stoplight, rest assured, it won’t be a Klingon. If you’re lucky it won’t even be someone who speaks it.