Road signs will point the way to an out-of-this-world language camp this summer: Doq ngeng pum Daq majghos! naDey tlhingan Hol jatlhlu! Welcome to Red Lake Falls! Klingon spoken here!
Earthling fans of the “Star Trek” television series gather Aug. 15-28 in northwestern Minnesota for what’s billed as the first Klingon Language Camp.
Klingons were the swarthy, militant adversaries of the Federation in the original series, and their sometimes reluctant allies in its “Next Generation” offshoot. To begin with, Klingons spoke English in front of TV cameras. But Paramount Studios enlisted a linguistic expert to devise a language for one of its movies so the Klingons could talk in their own tongue.
The language seems to have found a niche. Besides The Klingon Dictionary, there’s a cassette tape in conversational Klingon, a Klingon Language Institute and a quarterly newsletter.
Linguist Glen Proechel is helping organize the event even though he’s not a big Trekkie.
“It has no direct practical application whatsoever because nobody speaks it. Indirectly, it has all kinds of applications, as with any intellectual exercise,” Proechel said.
Besides five language lessons a day and small group sessions for learning conversation, the camp will feature softball, volleyball, tubing on the Red Lake River, Bingo (using Klingon numbers) and treasure hunts.
Dealing with the militant Klingon culture poses some problems in planning activities for the summer camp, however.
“We are having some problems with the vocabulary,” Proechel said. “Klingons don’t play softball, for example. We decided the pitcher would be the ‘gunman,’ and the first baseman would be the ‘guard.’ Instead of ‘safe’ and ‘out,’ we’ll have ‘live’ and ‘dead.’ ”