For tough Trekkies: “Alice in Wonderland” in Klingon

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“Star Trek fans will soon be able to read even more in“ Extra Terrestrial ”: A language expert has translated“ Alice in Wonderland ”into Klingon. The book is entitled “QelIS boqHarmey”.

After the “Little Prince”, Star Trek language expert Lieven L. Litaer has now also translated “Alice in Wonderland” into Klingon. The children’s book by the British writer Lewis Carroll (1865) will appear in early November under the title “QelIS boqHarmey” in extraterrestrial, Litaer told the German press agency in Saarbrücken. The translation was a challenge: “Because the work is overflowing with hidden and obvious puns.”

“Brand New Vocabulary”

The translator said he created new Klingon word games for the Star Trek version. In addition, some “brand new vocabulary” had been developed. Why this book? Because in the current series “Star Trek: Discovery” some lines from this work were quoted. And: It is one of the favorite books of the main character Michael Burnham, captain of the spaceship “Discovery”.

The Klingon teacher said he would use “Alice in Wonderland” in his language courses as a literature reading. With the translation he wants to contribute to “that the Klingon language spreads”. “That includes creating Klingon literature that anyone interested can read,” he said. His 2018 translation of the classic “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry also sold “very well” internationally.

Who invented it?

The American linguist Marc Okrand is the main developer of the artificial language. Actor James Doohan (who played Scotty), who died in 2005, is considered to be the inventor. He invented the first words. Klingon, known from the science fiction series, now has around 4200 words, according to Litaer. Every year Litaer offers a language course for Klingon in Saarbrücken, which is attended by interested parties from all over the world. Due to Corona, the course had to be canceled in 2020 and there will be no meeting in 2021. The next one – including a celebration of the 20th anniversary – is planned for November 2022.

The teacher estimates that 20 to 30 people worldwide speak fluent Klingon – a language with many tongue twisters and larynx sounds. The number of speakers is growing steadily, said Litaer. It took him around a year to translate “Alice in Wonderland”.


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