From: "Marc Okrand"
Subject: Re: Klingon - to be or not to be?
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 1998 00:22:04 -0500
>Clifton Prescod wrote in message
>>Ahh, but aren't the examples you are currently using based not on Mr.
>>Okrand's work but Mr. Doohan? Or was that whole thing a rumor? Why do I
>>remember seeing something that resembled Mark's name in the TMP credits?
David Trimboli wrote in message
>James Doohan wrote some bits of Klingon dialogue for Star Trek: The Motion
>Picture. Mark Lenard played the Klingon captain and said them. These
>utterances had no meaning; Doohan just made up random sounds.
>When Marc Okrand was devising the Klingon language for use in Star Trek 3:
>The Search for Spock, he went back to the footage of The Motion Picture and
>backfit the words Lenard spoke (this way the Klingon in The Motion Picture
>would also make sense). He invented Clipped Klingon to explain why verb
>prefixes were sometimes left out. wIy cha' is not only heard in the
>movie, it's also the phrase I've personally heard Marc Okrand say most
>frequently (in describing how he went about inventing the language).
SuStel (David Trimboli) is right about the history of those
The Klingon dialogue in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was
devised by James Doohan and spoken by Mark Lenard, who, of
course, played the Klingon commander in that film. My
understanding is that Doohan recorded the dialogue on tape
and Lenard then listened to the tape and wrote down what he
heard in a way that would help him learn the lines. To the
best of my knowledge, Lenard's handwritten transcription of
this tape is the only written version of what Doohan made
up. (There was more made up than actually ended up in the
film. Some of this additional dialogue can be heard --
though without benefit of subtitles -- in a scene where we
see the Klingon commander on a viewscreen on a Federation
monitoring station. But the Federation folks are talking
through all of this, so the Klingon dialogue can't be heard
very clearly.) I don't know whether at the time Doohan
made the recording he or Lenard or anybody else knew which
phrases would go with which subtitles or whether subtitles
were changed after the filming was done. (Having said that,
the command meaning "fire !" -- which I
transcribed as baH but which also sounds kind of like maH -- must have always had that meaning, since it's
there a couple of times. )
My involvement with Klingon began with "Star Trek III." In
devising the Klingon dialogue for that film, I first
listened to the lines spoken in "The Motion Picture,"
copied the subtitles, and transcribed phonetically what
Lenard was saying. I also imposed a structure on the
lines, deciding, for example, whether the phrase pronounced
something like "June tah," subtitled as "Evasive," was one
word or two. (I decided it was one, made up of two parts: jun "take evasive action" and taH, a suffix indicating
that the action is of a continuing or ongoing nature. It
wasn't until after I had done this and after about half of
the lines of Klingon were filmed for "Star Trek III" that I
met Mark Lenard and he told me the story of how the phrases
he uttered came into being. (He also showed me his written
My name is in the credits for "Star Trek II" because I
devised the Vulcan dialogue there. As was the case for
Klingon, however, I was not the first to make up Vulcan
words or phrases. In addition to the dozen or so Vulcan
words in various episodes of the original series, there is
(relatively speaking) quite a bit of Vulcan in "The Motion
Picture" in the scene where Spock is undergoing the
Kolinahr ritual. I don't know who made up that
dialogue; the people I met while I was working on the later
films only referred to the person as "a professor from
UCLA." I'd love to know who it was. Does anybody know?