[tlhIngan Hol] Timeless (minor spoilers for season 2 finale)

Daniel Dadap daniel at dadap.net
Fri Jun 1 07:03:40 PDT 2018



>> On Jun 1, 2018, at 00:54, Lieven L. Litaer <levinius at gmx.de> wrote:
>> 
>> Am 01.06.2018 um 01:59 schrieb Daniel Dadap:
>> In the episode “Chinatown” of the NBC time-travel series “Timeless”, one of the plot elements was that a character sent a message forward in time by writing a message “in Klingon” that ended up in a photograph in a history book. The message was a set of longitude/latitude coordinates and the warning “don’t come”.
> 
> Details and screenshots can be found on the page of the Klingon Language Wiki: http://www.klingonwiki.net/En/Timeless

Ah, of course it is. Sorry for not checking first! I’m not on Twitter so I hadn’t known that Shatner commented on it. I hadn’t seen it discussed here so I figured I’d mention it in case anybody found it interesting.

>> Out of universe, the obvious explanation is
> 
> I have not seen that episode, so my question was: how do they explain it? Do they say "this IS klingon and means do not come" or do they say "It's written with klingon letters and says so" or what?

It’s vague enough that the distinction between Klingon letters and the Klingon language isn’t made, which seems appropriate for the casual level of the conversation that took place. They even only talk about “reading” Klingon and not “speaking” Klingon.

Connor: Hey wait, is that… That’s not Chinese, is it?
Lucy: No, that’s not Chinese.
Rufus: It’s Klingon. She’s sending us a message in Klingon!
Lucy: You read Klingon?
[ Rufus stares at Lucy ]
Lucy: Why am I asking that? Of course you read Klingon.
Rufus: It’s a series of numbers. GPS coordinates. She must be trying to tell us where the Lifeboat is.
Lucy: Do you think she left it somewhere for us to find 130 years later?
Rufus: Wait, it also says something else. It says… “Don’t come”.
Lucy: Well, the hell with that!

Later in the episode, when Jiya admonishes Rufus for ignoring her warning, she also paraphrases what was actually written as “don’t come”. So I’m guessing out of universe that the intention was for the message to say “don’t come” rather than “do not come”, but maybe they liked the way “do not come” looked better graphically. *{Don't chome} (assuming the font maps “'” to {qaghwI'} instead of or in addition to “z”)  is even less plausible Klingon than *{Do not chome}. (BTW, another amusing translation attempt for *{Do not chome} is to add another letter to make the last word {chomej}: “velocity, you never leave me”. Which, while not an imperative, is almost the opposite of “Do not come”.)

>> character who wrote the Klingon message knew pIqaD but was shaky on vocabulary, and without access to TKD, which wouldn’t be written for another 100+ years, did the next best thing and spelled out a message in English using pIqaD.
> 
> Well, in universe it would still make sense to do it that way. I've regulalry seen people using pIqaD as a "secret font" just writing in english using the letters.

Yeah, in universe it would make sense that Rufus and Jiya may have used pIqaD as a “secret font” in this way. Even in Star Trek contexts I’ve seen this. In the “Federation: The first 150 years” books there’s a number of documents in “Klingon” that are just English written in pIqaD. Which gives you fun artifacts like “jonatHan archHer”

>> it was way better than “Kuntar pateeky maya. Al fook soo.”
> 
> For anyone interested, this is from the movie "Garden State", spoken by Jim Parsons who at that time certainly did not know he would ever speak Klingon again. :-)

The word “again” implies that Klingon was spoken in that movie to begin with. }}}:-)

> See
> http://www.klingonwiki.net/En/GardenState
> 
> -- 
> Lieven L. Litaer
> aka the "Klingon Teacher from Germany"
> http://www.klingonisch.de
> http://www.klingonwiki.net/En/KlingonOnTV
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