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Two Klingon women address Lieutenant Worf in this "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode.
Fans of "Star Trek" may instantly recognize the guttural tones of the Klingon language, though few are actually fluent. But don't worry: You can avoid an interstellar diplomatic incident by consulting Bing's new Klingon-English translation service.
Bing already does plenty of translation (it handles everything on Facebook, for instance), but this is the first fictional language to be added to its list. Or rather, the first real language based on a fictional people. Klingon is, after all, a fully-functional language every bit as real as any other.
Klingon's distinct character was established in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" when James Doohan, who played bluff engineer "Scottie," ad-libbed a few lines during filming. This was taken as the basis for the rest of the language by linguist Marc Okrand, who formalized it in the 1984 book "The Klingon Dictionary." He talks about the process in this recent interview.
The automated translator was built to promote the release of "Star Trek Into Darkness," the latest movie in the rebooted franchise. It's fully functional, and can reproduce sentences from any supported language in Klingon — using either Earth letters or Klingon's own "Kronos" script:
The front page of NBCNews.com rendered in Klingon's Kronos character set.
The translator was made possible by a partnership with Paramount and the Klingon Language Institute, a nonprofit intended to "facilitate the scholarly exploration of the Klingon language and culture."
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.
First published May 14 2013, 5:15 PM