[tlhIngan Hol] why we shouldn't do transcriptions

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Thu Feb 27 07:21:09 PST 2020

In English, we don't rely on foreign scripts to indicate foreign words. 
We transliterate and italicize them. We capitalize proper nouns. The 
fact that we often don't or can't do these things in Klingon is a 
deficiency in our writing systems, not a problem inherent in 
transliteration. The fact that transliterations may not always be the 
same is irrelevant. We don't write חֲנֻכָּה; we write Hanukkah or 
Chanukah or a bunch of other ways, and which one you choose depends on 
your preference and maybe your style guide.

We also don't assume that people reading foreign words or names will be 
stumped by a transliteration. Sure, a new student of English might read 
"Gandalf spared them one more mouthful each of the /miruvor/ of 
Rivendell" and get confused as to what /miruvor/ is and wonder whether 
/Gandalf/ is a name, but at some point you have to decide whether your 
audience is students who can't identify non-native words or a wider, 
more knowledgeable audience. Generally, we go with the latter. If you're 
reading a translation of the original Greek New Testament and you 
encounter the word *'IySuS* (or whatever), it should be pretty darn 
obvious that it's a name. If you're not experienced enough to recognize 
that it's not a Klingon word, you should probably study more before 
trying to read a translation of something as complex as the New Testament.

I have no problem with unmarked transliterations. They do show why 
Klingon so desperately needs "spelling reform" that will never happen. 
But TKD is happy to give us Klingon names that are not marked in any way 
and do not appear in the word lists, and Skybox cards are happy to 
transliterate foreign names without any notice whatsoever, so even 
Okrand is fine with unmarked transliterations.


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