[tlhIngan Hol] hard truths about the future

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Mon Dec 20 06:28:35 PST 2021

On 12/20/2021 8:06 AM, mayqel qunen'oS wrote:
> People like tolkien and okrand are one in a billion. Literally. They 
> have been born with a special gift, a gift which none of us has: the 
> ability to create something new.

Fond as I am of Marc Okrand and the Klingon language, he is no Tolkien. 
Tolkien didn't just create some conlangs. Tolkien invented some 
languages, then invented the complete etymologies of those languages and 
the legendary and mythic stories of the peoples who spoke those 
languages and the whole world in which they lived, and was constantly 
changing the languages to make it more suitable, while incorporating 
those changes into the etymologies. His work is astounding, and few have 
even come close to the incredible level of detail he did. (Although I 
haven't read any of it, I suspect M.A.R. Barker's Tekumel is probably 
one of the closest.)

What Okrand made is pleasing and absorbing, but it's not a work of 
genius. I don't think our reliance on canon has anything to do with some 
innate ability of Okrand that we can't replicate. Rather, we rely on 
canon to maintain the fiction that this language is a real one spoken by 
aliens on another planet with a real culture and history, because 
otherwise we're just a bunch of cringeworthy geeks coughing and spitting 
at each other for no good reason. For me, at least, there is an 
important imaginative element to Klingon that must not be taken away, or 
the whole thing falls down.

The ability of Klingon to survive a transition to a new keeper for 
people like us will not depend on someone being able to replicate the 
work of a genius. It will depend, rather, on how believably the 
fictional reality of Klingon can be maintained in its new context. If 
Okrand just says, "Maltz has decided to move to Joe's basement, so Joe 
gets to report new Klingon words now" or some such statement, I would 
find that ham-handed at best. If authority is granted to a committee to 
invent new Klingon words, that would be even worse, since I can imagine 
no good way in which a committee of human beings could be connected with 
reporting actual Klingon from the fictional universe. I would actually 
find it more satisfying to learn that our window into the secondary 
world has closed, leaving our canon of Klingon frozen at the current 
state, because that would be most believable. But it would be disappointing.


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