SPEAKING Klingon, the fictitious language used by the Star Trek characters of the same name, has become a growing worldwide activity, according to one Montreal linguist.
First spoken by enemy Klingons in the 1982 movie Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, the language is now being studied or spoken by thousands in at least 30 countries around the world and boasts a dictionary, language tapes, a regular newsletter, websites and a members' association called the Klingon Language Institute (www.kli.org). Klingophiles can even find several works of Shakespeare translated into Klingon.
Danielle Allard has never watched a full episode of the original 1960s television series. "I find it stupid," says the recent Universite du Quebec Montreal graduate, who did not let her disdain for the show stop her from launching a two-year study of the language. She recently handed in her final masters project, a 180-page sociological study of the Klingon language.
The 30-year-old was amazed at the growing number of people captivated by the language. At last year's annual Klingon convention in Philadelphia, she saw doctors, engineers and other linguists, speaking to each other in a language that even its creator, United States linguist Mark Okrand, never thought would be spoken by anyone other than Klingons themselves.
Ms Allard has come up with her theory for the language's popularity among earthlings. "It's a way for people to put themselves in another world, to escape from the everyday," she said.
Her project did meet some initial resistance from her department, sceptical of the academic significance of a Klingon study. She was given the go-ahead when she assured them that the project would be more than just a look at a language, but one that studied the language's sociological impact. It also helped that her adviser was a big Star Trek fan.