The Klingon’s at the core of Star Trek: Discovery will speak the real Klingon language. Throughout the original Star Trek series, the Klingon race was seen as a major threat to the Federation. It wasn’t until Star Trek: The Next Generation that we really started to see them evolve from a warlike race, and even then Lt. Commander Worf was considered largely an exceptional case. Even as Klingons became allies instead of antagonists, they were seen primarily as a warrior race that still hoped to find a good fight somewhere.
As revealed at the show’s Comic-Con panel, that’s going to change in Star Trek: Discovery. Not only that, but the Klingons that we see aren’t going to speak English throughout the whole series. Instead, they’ll actually be speaking Klingon onscreen.
Klingons in Discovery will have subtitled dialogue, and the language they speak will actually be the fan-accessible Klingon language. Popular in geek culture, there are books and even courses that individuals can take to learn to speak Klingon. All of that work may finally pay off in a big way; according to executive producer Gretchen J. Berg, viewers who speak Klingon will be able to understand what the Klingon characters are saying without having to read the subtitles.
The Discovery panel also revealed that Klingons won’t be the “thugs” of the universe in the show, despite the setting being the Federation/Klingon cold war. The show will expand on Klingon culture, giving viewers a better look at how they act and interact beyond what we’ve seen in other Trek shows and movies. The Klingons won’t be straight-up villains this time around either, despite being antagonists to the main crew. The conflict with the Klingons won’t be resolved during the course of the season, but both fans and the Federation may leave with a deeper understanding of the Klingons as a race.
This is a really interesting take on what’s long been considered a villainous race in Star Trek, especially during the early days of the franchise. The approach sounds similar to what was done in Warcraft, where viewers were shown the culture and heroes of both the orcs and the humans to get a better understanding of each. The fact that they’ll be speaking Klingon amongst themselves is also a great touch, acknowledging that there’s no reason why they’d speak anything else to other Klingons and embracing the fan community that’s grown up around the language.
Of course, some fans may worry that Discovery is changing too much about Trek. On top of trying to shine more of a light on Klingon culture, it was recently revealed that the show will change a bit of what’s known about Spock’s family. Many fans will likely embrace the changes, though, especially if they’re done with respect to the existing canon and simply add new details instead of trying to change what was there before like the recent movies.
The bigger issue is that with just over two months until Star Trek: Discovery premieres, fans only have so much time to brush up on their Klingon.
Star Trek: Discovery premieres on CBS with a two-part series opener on September 27, 2017. After that, the show will continue on CBS All Access in 2017 and 2018.
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