|Languages||tlhIngan Hol (Klingon)|
|Unicode range||CSUR U+F8D0..U+F8FF|
|Klinzhai or Mandel script
|Type||alphabet - Latin cipher|
In Marc Okrand's The Klingon Dictionary this alphabet is named as pIqaD, but no information is given about it. When Klingon symbols are used in Star Trek productions they are merely decorative graphic elements, designed to emulate real writing and to create an appropriate atmosphere.
The Astra Image Corporation designed the symbols (currently used to "write" Klingon) for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, although these symbols are often incorrectly attributed to Michael Okuda. They based the letters on the Klingon battlecruiser hull markings (three letters) first created by Matt Jeffries, and on Tibetan writing because the script had sharp letter forms—used as a testament to the Klingons' love for bladed weapons.
Although the Latin alphabet is used by some enthusiasts to write Klingon, the speaking community also makes use of an artificial script designed to emulate Klingon writing on the show. This alphabet was created by an anonymous source at Paramount, who based his/her alphabet on letters seen in the show. This source sent in his/her alphabet to the Klingon Language Institute and the KLI uploaded it onto its Web site as the Klingons' way of writing their language. This alphabet has gained some acceptance within the speaker and fan community although many Klingonists still prefer the Latin alphabet.
The alphabet is quite simple: It contains twenty-six letters with a one-to-one grapheme-phoneme correspondence: that is, one letter represents one sound and one sound is written with one letter. There are also ten numerals in the set. It is written from left to right, top to bottom like English. There is no actual punctuation; however, those that use punctuation with the alphabet, use Skybox punctuation symbols (see below).
In September 1997, Michael Everson made a proposal for encoding this in Unicode. The Unicode Technical Committee rejected the Klingon proposal in May 2001 on the grounds that research showed almost no use of the script for communication, and the vast majority of the people who did use Klingon employed the Latin alphabet by preference. Everson created a mapping of pIqaD into the Private Use Area of Unicode, which he listed in the ConScript Unicode Registry (U+F8D0 to U+F8FF). Since then several fonts using that encoding have appeared, and software for typing in pIqaD has become available. As a result, blogs in pIqaD have begun to appear, raising the possibility of reapplying for inclusion in Unicode when there is a sufficient corpus. Existing text in Romanization can easily be converted to pIqaD also.
Google provides Klingon content, but its web server currently doesn't recognize the tlh language tag.
The KLI adapted version of pIqaD utilizes the character set originally assembled by author Thomas E. Scheuer in his publication "Mortas-te-Kaase - the Death's Hand Battle Fleet" fan organization group operations manual (compiled, written, illustrated and published by author Thomas E. Scheuer from 1989–1994) which the author and founder of the KLI later became a member of, and learned of the MTK character assemblage and membership booklet designations, isn't the only mapping of Klingon letters. The Astra Image letters as released in the "Mortas-te-Kaase" were taken and used in the Paramount-endorsed Bitstream font pack. They were used to make a font with ten letters of the English alphabet: "e" to "n" being represented by the ten different klingon letters. This font itself has been used by the Star Trek production team when creating Klingon graphics; however it is still used only as random gibberish on the shows. Dr. Schoen would often refer inquiries to Thomas Scheuer as he was still a student of the Klingon language at the time. The Mortas-te-Kaase organisation was also in very close contact with linguist Marc Okrand, who was also an active member of MTK and would often release exclusive additional words and phrases through the regular publications of the organisation via their newsletter "veS QonoS". Scheuer was never credited however, in any of Dr. Schoen's works or publications, and thus following commercial usage was neither credited properly. A copy of the original release as photocopied from MTK member manual is displayed at the right. (See also the MTK 1990 Klin-Kon flier utilizing the MTK pIqaD)
The trading card company Skybox used this font when they created the Klingon language cards in their Star Trek: The Next Generation trading card collection. The Klingon cards themselves detail aspects of Klingon culture and feature pIqaD text and a transliteration and translation provided by Marc Okrand. Some of these cards, notably S7, S8 and card S9 feature pIqaD, which corresponds to the Latin transcription. Other known cards include S19 and S20 (which contain belittling references to Blockbuster, probably an allusion to Blockbuster Video) the season seven card selection s37, s38 and s39 (which featured no actual tlhIngan Hol, but only English and on card S39 Latin, written in the Skybox alphabet), and finally, the Checklist cards for each season's set of cards had the word cards written in Klingon on them when listing the above mentioned cards.
The script is written in horizontal lines running from left to right, top to bottom, just like English. Klingon can be written with spaces between words (a word being defined as any noun, verb or leftover, plus any prefixes and suffixes attached to it) and punctuation. When this is the case, four punctuation marks are used:
- An "up-turned triangle" with a function similar to a comma, semi-colon or colon.
- A "down-turned" triangle with a function similar to a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark.
- A mark similar in appearance to a hyphen (unknown function).
- A mark similar to an apostrophe (From KLI) (unknown)
The triangular punctuation marks have been accepted into the common usage of the KLI pIqaD (see above).
Klingon can also be written with no spaces or punctuation at all; this form is more common on the TV shows. As in English, Klingon text can be left-justified, center-justified, or right-justified, and written in vertical columns on banners.
Due to its nature, the "Skybox" Alphabet is ill-suited to writing Klingon, in that ambiguity in the alphabet is apparent, so different words are spelled the same way; these are homographs. The heartiest commendations and the gravest insults could be written identically; however, context would go a long way to disambiguating homographs.
A third script, known as the Klinzhai or Mandel script, was included in The U.S.S. Enterprise Officer's Manual (1980). It holds more closely to the D7 battlecruiser hull markings and is also loosely based upon the conceptual art of Matt Jeffries, TOS set designer.
Its letters map to various letters and digraphs of English, but they have no relation to Marc Okrand's Klingon language. Like the other two alphabets, it is probably written in the same direction as English.
- Symbols attributed to Okuda: the Klingon Language Institute's Klingon FAQ (edited by d'Armond Speers), question 2.13 by Will Martin (August 18, 1994). Symbols incorrectly attributed to Okuda: KLI founder Lawrence M. Schoen's "On Orthography" (PDF), citing J. Lee's "An Interview with Michael Okuda" in the KLI's journal HolQed 1.1 (March 1992), p. 11. Symbols actually designed by Astra Image Corporation: Michael Everson's Proposal.....
- Michael Everson (September 18, 1997). "Proposal to encode Klingon in Plane 1 of ISO/IEC 10646-2".
- The Unicode Consortium (August 14, 2001). "Approved Minutes of the UTC 87 / L2 184 Joint Meeting".
- Michael Everson (January 15, 2004). "Klingon: U+F8D0 - U+F8FF".
- David Roger McCreedy (March 28, 2005). "Comprehensive Unicode Test Page for Klingon".
- Klingon Language Institute (KLI)
- Omniglot: Klingon Alphabet
- information on the Skybox Trading cards, with Klingon writing
- Installer for a custom Klingon locale, keyboard mapping and pIqaD font for Windows Vista/Windows 7
- Custom keyboard mapping for Windows XP
- custom locale for using Klingon pIqaD on Windows Vista, font, keyboard and custom locale
- Transliterate Between pIqaD and Latin alphabet transcription
- Hol-pIqaD font used for the eurotalk Talk Now! Learn Klingon course by Jonathan Brown and Marc Okrand. Change case to convert between a Latin and pIqaD characters