Here's a summary of my work on these languages and Ferengi that I just made for facebook's largest Star Trek group. You can read the full version on my group on Conlang Decipherment and History. It repeats what I've previously said here but then also adds new things.
This essay mostly refers to my experiences with conlangers on facebook and on other websites than this one. I just joined this one a month ago and have been too busy to read around to see what past and present posters and repliers are like. Anybody wants to add or refute, go for it. I just do the best with what I got.
Of course, I think I have recently been told that this website is an exception to experience, and contains many professional language scientists and conlangers of such a sort that they really know all about language science and welcome people with language science degrees and or years of experience studying and making conlangs. In which case, happily, those parts of the essay would not apply to this present euphoric and eulogic eutopia.
I also wrote this essay for mildly interested professional and non-professional language scientists that I know over facebook. Who sometimes read what I write.
A lot of the point of essays like this over facebook is not that people read them, though I'm pretty sure that people do read them, even if they don't like them. The point is more of establishing myself as a "facebook scholar" and being available for all sorts of people, and testing my patience and finesse with whomever responds. Being a top admin on facebook is like being a butler at a country club and being a top posting member is not that much difference. You're a bit of a tool and if you really had a gigantic ego, well, look at all the people who don't post to facebook or don't run facebook groups. I do it mostly for the people from the Third World who have questions but no time and little money. It is a such a strain and test of my patience and abilities, though. It's no wonder there's hardly any academics on facebook groups or otherwise: They put up with enough for their jobs as it is.
But you always have to worry about people not getting jokes because of regional sense of humor and because people are just not that imaginative. On facebook, I really do think that people see your profile picture and think a certain thing. On some conlanging online communities off facebook, I think it's what you type about that does something similar for people. "Hippocleides careth not."
I read that there was something about stepping on people's toes in the rules for this website, though. So I'll ask leeway for this one but not make it a habit. Part of the problem is that facebook posts are ready for multiple related audiences whereas these online conlang communities are very mono-audience and maybe more like the sort of presentation style that's seen in academia. Which in general is very much in contrast with the conversational and quick style seen on facebook.
On Star Trek Invented Languages and Invented Languages in General
by Larry Rogers, BA Language Science** from Michigan State University.
The past 3 weeks, I've been studying and making translations into Star Trek languages, "pseudo-languages", and "semi-languages" from across the decades. I've finished quick translations into Klingon and Vulcan, and am now working on one into Ferengi. I also did one into Mutsun after the Klingon one but Mutsun is a Native American language studied by the creator of Klingon.
I study this stuff because I'm a amateur language scientist, with a BA Linguistics, who specializes in the study of invented languages, especially those from famous books, tv, and movies. One of my greater specializations is logographic writing systems like Chinese, Japanese, Mayan Hieroglyphic, and Egyptian Hieroglyphic.
Klingon, made by Professor Marc Okrand.
Here is its main facebook group:
Then here is the facebook group I have for this and the other Star Trek languages, plus Mutsun (Native American, California) and other languages studied by the creator of Klingon, Professor Mark Okrand.
Okrand Languages Club: Klingon Language, Vulcan, Atlantean, Mutsun
The Vulcan Languages, made by tv show writers, novelists, etc, and fans from the 1960s to present. The Vulcan Languages of The Vulcan Language Institute are notable among these. These were made using the above material by a group of about 40 scientists and non-scientists from around the world in the 80s and 90s, lead by former army polyglot Mark Gardner of Oregon, USA. It's really notable how much better and more interesting of a conlang Vulcan is compared to Klingon and how much more capable of a community it has gathered over the years: The Klingon community is notable for its reluctance to make up its own vocabulary and grammar for Klingon and for the inconsistency and increased irreality of the resulting language. Notably, the original premises of "The Klingon Dictionary" from 1985 have not been matched by subsequent elaborations either by its fans or even its creator, Marc Okrand. Whereas Vulcan was "grammatically expanded" from almost nothing by fans and as a result is quite full-bodied and even consistent. See below for the discussion of the phenomena at play in this.
Here is its main facebook group:
The Ferengi Languages, made by tv show writers for episodes "Little Green Men", 1995, and "Acquisition", 2002, and deciphered and expanded in 1995 by Timothy Miller and David Salo, future invented language consultant for The Lord of the Rings films, and in 2017 by Amino Apps website author "GeekyDreams" (Lir Soracia in real life?). All of them seem inspired by Klingon grammar to varying degrees.
Okrand Languages Club: Klingon Language, Vulcan, Atlantean, Mutsun
To follow my progress in studying and translating into these languages over 3-4 weeks or so, please join that Okrand Languages facebook group and then see what I end up putting on my websites:
Guide to "Any Language at All" Encyclopedic Website and Other Websites by Me
https://anylanguageatall411.blogspot.co ... w=flipcard
Other Star Trek languages: The Ferengi Languages materials talk of a Trill Language. Otherwise, I forget what others there are or might be. Memory Alpha and Memory Beta probably list them, but not for fanonical works. For episodes earlier this year, Trent Pehrson was hired to make a Romulan Language or something like that.
Thoughts on Star Trek languages:
Mostly only show creators and fans study or contribute to these languages and these are distinct from language scientists and language scholars, thought there's some overlap between the two.
The best of them all are the Vulcan Languages made by the Vulcan Language Institute: It required the most work to create, has the largest and most interesting vocabulary, and was made over the largest time span. It's also more realistic and better done than Klingon.
Unfortunately, far more people have studied and have ever been interested in Klingon, mostly because of hype and numbers. It's somewhat promoted as "The Star Trek Language". My own work on these languages, which I hope to eventually get online for free, points out such things about these languages.
The other languages are very interesting but seemingly very few people have studied them. Again, the problem is that the people interested lack the knowledge of language science, and visa versa. And this is all despite Klingon being the second most popular fictional invented language of the past 150 years, after Elvish (Quenya) from "The Lord of the Rings" by Tolkein, and not counting the international lingua franca Esperanto.
All the languages except Klingon show strong influence from English because they're based on work by tv show writers or novelists who don't know much about foreign languages or language science. Other flaws in the languages also stem from the involved creators not being much of studied hobbyists of language invention (called "conlangers"). Making a good language that's sufficiently not like English and otherwise balanced yet interesting is difficult. The "Acquisition Episode Ferengi Language" showed influence from English, French, and maybe Modern or Ancient Greek and the teleplay writers have French-sounding names. I also suspect they got uncredited outside help for that one OR the transcription of the language on Memory Alpha and Memory Beta is a hoax by someone like David Salo.
Further thoughts on language scientists vs. conlangers vs. conlanger imitators:
It's also notable that I find a dearth of talent among conlangers as a whole. Many are amateur language scientists, without degrees, or strongly influenced by the mentalities of the same. So, as for interest in Star Trek languages, there's a distinction between people interested in making up languages extensively and those with knowledge of multiple foreign languages and language science, with some overlap between the two.
Who is interested in making up languages? It seems that a lot of them are fans of Western fantasy and science-fiction books, but maybe less so tv or movies, things like live action role-playing, and table-top miniature gaming like Dungeons and Dragons and such. Maybe many are also video game people. There's a definite and comparable "sausage party" feeling about these communities, too. They're mostly imitators of Tolkein or imitators of imitators of Tolkein, author of "Lord of the Rings".
And many are computer programmers, whom I have found to otherwise show interest in language science but almost entirely lack competence therein. They lack the drive to do sufficient studies on their own, or get input from more able people, to do good work. There is a mechanicalness and impatience about them, coupled with wealth, which inhibits them in hobby persuit of language science. Perhaps to them, in part, language science is a joke because it doesn't pay as well as computer programming and few people study it. But this is not the way to treat science.
Language science is very serious because people use - and unfortunately abuse - language constantly. Language science offers unique hope of a brighter future - discouraging and undervalueing its dedicated scientists and scholars is very bad. Computer programmers often get a "god mentality" because they have much control in the realm of computers - which contrasts to their notable lack of control outside the realm of computers.
Not that I'm trying to upset them: They're often company for me in my studies. But I have a moral obligation as an excellent scientist, scholar, and anthropologist to lay down my experience for the improvement of all. Progress is notably less sugar-coated than the road to ruin.
It's notable that I have often found myself on the end of really inane online abuse from major and minor online conlanging personalities, over the past 15 years. There is jealousy and misunderstanding for people who can or do make the commitment to science to get a degree in linguistics. Caveat emptor. So linguists need to beware of such people and band together one with another against yet another manifestation of popular ignorance and anti-intellectualism and anti-science mentalities, no dout often unintended and unrealized.
So the perennial related questions:
Is it worth the budget to hire an accomplished conlanger like David Peterson, of Game of Thrones, or hire an "imitation conlanger" like Paul Frommer of the Avatar film, to make invented languages for books, tv, or movies? Of course, in his book "The Art of Language Invention", David Peterson argues for it. But I argue against it as too much hassle for the actors. It's very much like special effects in that it involves cutting edge science. But it's also distinct from them.
That said, was it worth the effort for the writers (or hidden others) for the 1995 episode "Little Green Men" or the 2002 episode "Acquisition" to make (sizeable) languages or pseudo-languages for their episodes? Especially considering that it may not have been until now, August 2020, that either was realized for what it is by a language scientist of sufficient ability and interest.
It's also notable that online conlangers seem little interested in conlangs from books, movies, or tv. They seem mostly interested in their own work because it's far more complex or otherwise to their liking. They also seem very sensitive to jealousy, maybe due to autism or "genius" or whatever you want to call it. There is an noteable erraticness about them which I have noticed over the years. Not only that, but they also have extended little welcome to me over the past 15 years, so there's a low level of tolerance for conlanging diversity. Among other types of diversity. Again, comparisons can be made to the Western video game community.
That all said, I really think the tv show writers for 1995's "Little Green Men" and 2002's "Acquition" did a really great job, especially the second one. And then the fan developments or inspirations from these works were also very interesting. I wonder why the show producers made these languages, if it was part of some strategy to build up interest in the show or something, or test the fans and audiences. The 1995 one was during an era when Klingon was quite popular, books still being printed on considerable scale by Marc Okrand regarding it.
But I can especially appreciate such things because I also specialize in the study of modern and historic pseudo-linguistics, ESL education, and such. But few language scientists get much into the study of modern or historical pseudo-linguistics, and seemingly fewer conlangers. Which is all fine by me, I've been at this sort of thing 15 years and have made many amazing discoveries. I do and don't have a thick skin for this sort of thing. I do shake off this sort of thing and even come to anticipate it. "You can't have it all", and "You get what you put in" seem to be the proverbs of note in this situation.
The 1995 Timothy Miller conlang was brought to my attention by Yuri Mihálik of Los Angeles, aka "Titus Aurelius", some years ago. My co-admin on my group about Okrand's Atlantean Language. And it's not until now that I have managed to find the time to examine it and even study related languages.
Major events in the recent history of conlangs in books, tv, and movies was the huge successes of Avatar and Game of Thrones, upon which David Peterson's subsequent work has built. I hear that interest in his Dothraki has died down but that now there is a notable community for his High Valyrian language.
I'm not actually a big fan of Star Trek, though I've seen a few episodes and read a bit about it over the years. Rather, one of my specializations as an amateur language scientist, aforementioned, is deciphering conlangs from movies, tv, and books which have never been studied. I started out in 2006 with Marc Okrand's Atlantean and decided to make a minor specialization of it.
It's funny but typical that on the rare occasion that I tell people I've studied Klingon or Vulcan that they assume I'm a big fan of the show. It's more like, though, that I'm a big fan of grammar, language science, art, and theater. Note my biggest scholar specialization: Logographic writing systems. That's half "art history", the study of art. Acta est fabula. I actually personally writhe at such depictions of geniuses as that of the popular Spock and Star Trek fan Sheldon in the tv show "Big Bang Theory". But I haven't been a big tv watcher since I was a child, so I probably just don't get it and it's probably made to appeal to everyone, carefully alternating jibes like "The Simpsons". I also have studied a lot of actual anthropology and ethnography and am familiar with the issues in and involving it around the world. So there are times when reading about or watching Star Trek that I consider walking away or even regret having seen a particular episode or scene.
But then part of why I do this sort of thing, from time to time, is public outreach and in promotion of conlanging and language science (linguistics).
** I prefer to call "linguistics" as "language science" because I consider that to be more semantically transparent. Ironically, mostly people hear "linguistics" and think "polyglotism", which is very distinct from "language science".
Language: Scientists define a language as something like French, Swahili, or obscure minority languages. There's natural languages like Spanish and then there's also constructed languages, or conlangs, like Klingon. Scientists distinguish between "languages" and "dialects" based on mutual intelligibility. A notable American dialect of English is AAVE African American Vernacular Dialect.
"Pseudo-language" : This is something that's supposed to resemble a language in many ways but is not a real language or much like one.
"Semi-language" : It's not clear whether this is a pseudo-language or a language.
Image: Here's images of the Klingon, Mutsun, Vulcan, and Ferengi peoples. Mutsun language is Native American from California. Opp! I know what you're thinking. Surprise, I'm Mohawk (a type of Native American) by blood. I welcome non-Native Americans to study the languages, though, but some don't. Now you may proceed. Three years ago, I founded the first and one of the largest facebook groups on Native American Languages. Show you really care by joining, okay?
This image derived from this one and the Ohlone people wikipedia article.
Here's a favorite Original Series meme that I see a lot of around Thanksgiving and Christmas each year, just for some local colour.