[tlhIngan Hol] Introduction and a letter from Marc Okrand

Felix Malmenbeck felixm at kth.se
Tue May 11 01:10:30 PDT 2021

Thank you for sharing; it's always interesting to add a bit of lore to these glosses, even if one's theories end up being electron'd.


From: tlhIngan-Hol <tlhingan-hol-bounces at lists.kli.org> on behalf of James Landau <savegraduation at yahoo.com>
Sent: Saturday, May 8, 2021 4:54:36 PM
To: tlhingan-hol at lists.kli.org
Subject: [tlhIngan Hol] Introduction and a letter from Marc Okrand

nuqneH! I have just found and joined this mailing list.

My real name is James Landau, but on the online conlanging community, I go by Khemehekis (a word from my conlang Kankonian). In Klingon, I transliterate this into HemeHe'qIS.

I first learned that the Klingons had their own language when I was 15 and was browsing the foreign language section of a bookstore. I found a book titled _The Klingon Dictionary_ and was amazed that a race from Star Trek (a TV show I have never seen, but at 15 already knew of, and knew that Klingons were from this show) had its own language's dictionary. I grazed through the book, but did not remember any of the words after a few days.

At 16, I found a conlang directory on the Internet with pages on other people's conlangs. This was back in 1996. I decided I finally wanted to develop the language of the Kankonian people of the planet Kankonia (a planet I had invented in late 1993 when I was drawing conplanets and their conpeople with sidewalk chalk along with my siblings). The Kankonian language began that year, and I started to take an interest in reading about other people's conlangs online -- classics like Teonaht, Brithenig, Verdurian, Talossan, Loglan, Lojban, Ceqli, Wenedyk . . . and also the famous Klingon. Over the next few years I added conlangs for other peoples of the Lehola Galaxy (the galaxy that includes Kankonia).

During the late nineties and early tenties (so 1996-2003 or thereabouts), some Klingon words started to stick. One thing I remembered was seeing a list of words for all these Klingon bird species that had been invented since TKD came out. I wasn't even aware of the puns, nor that these were analogues of Terran bird species.

In the late eleventies (2015-2019), I started to follow Klingon and its new words more closely. I learned many Klingon root words and suffixes, and was able to grok its subject+object prefixes. The personal pronouns of Klingon (jIH, soH, etc.) finally stuck. But there was one thing that led me to seek out Marc Okrand.

When the word for "electron", *tem*, was revealed in qep'a' 23, I realized that *tem* also meant "to deny". In Kankonian, the word for electron is *osat* and the word for "to deny" is *osatz". These kind of coincidences do happen (cf. Japanese "ni" and "ni" and English "two" and "to"), but I wondered whether Okrand was making one of his many puns, this time as an allusion to Kankonian! Quite a lot of people in the online conlanging community are aware of Kankonian, so I could not discount this possibility.

Not too long afterward, I joined the kli.org and requested "disorder, disability, syndrome, condition" and "headphones" at the kli.org wish list. I know *chabal tetlh* means wish list, but I thought it an intriguing name because there is a somewhat antelope-like creature on Chedam (a planet in the Lehola Galaxy) called a chabal.

In late 2020, I met Larry Rogers, a personality in the conlanging community with a BA in linguistics from Michigan State University, at the CBB. He soon friended me on Facebook, and we talked. When I gave him a spreadsheet dictionary file for Kankonian, Larry told me he spoke to Marc Okrand about my accomplishment. It turned out Larry knew Marc Okrand as a Facebook friend.

I wrote to Mr. Okrand at his Facebook account a couple of weeks ago, finally getting a chance to ask him about *tem* and *tem*. This was my letter:

"Dear Marc Okrand,

I'm James Landau. I am friends with Larry Rogers -- the guy with a BA in linguistics from the University of Michigan [sic] -- and he told me he writes you on Facebook. I am also friends with Jim Hopkins of Itlani fame.

I would like to correspond with you as well. I have been following your Klingon language and its developments for some time. I find your creativity and unremitting punmanship in Klingon amazing, and post in the conlanging community as Khemehekis (or, in Klingon, HemeHe'qIS), and I was the one who requested words for "headphones" and "disorder, disability, syndrome, condition" at last year's chabal tetlh.. It is because of my requests that Klingon now has the words *DannI'* and *HarqIn*. This year I have requested words for "chromosome" and "Jew".

For the last few years, I have been on a quest to find the answer to a burning question about my own conlang, Kankonian. Kankonian is a language spoken my humans living on the planet Kankonia, with a lexicon of over 72,000 words today. Its grammar of over 150 pages is currently up on the web at https://khemehekis.angelfire.com/basic.htm .

The surprise came when you introduced the new word *tem* meaning "electron". *tem*, of course, can also be the Klingon word for "deny". Now, here's where it gets eerie. The "electron" sense of tem wasn't added until qep'a' 23. However, as you can see at the archive http://web.archive.org/web/20011226043908/http://pages.prodigy.com/kankonia/ko.htm , my Kankonian already had, by 2001, the words *osat* for "electron" and *osatz* for "to deny". Due to the dates, I couldn't have been inspired by Klingon . . . but, were you already familiar with Kankonian when you added "*tem*: electron: to Klingon?

Perhaps this is all a complete coincidence . . . or could we both have been inspired by the concept of "negative" that appears in both the concepts "deny" and "electron"? (As you'll see, *os* is the word for "not" in Kankonian, and that's wherefrom *osat* and *osatz* were both derived). Or are you one of many conlangers who's been keeping tabs on, perhaps even learning, Kankonian, for some time, unbeknownst to me?

I hope to open a communication between the two of us over our shared love of conlanging, and find out the answer to this compelling question! Keep in touch,

James Landau

Last Sunday, Marc Okrand wrote back:

"Hi James/Khemehekis --

Nice to meet you (in this virtual way).  To jump to the burning question: The similarity between the Klingon and Kankonian words for "electron" and "deny" is, as you said, eerie. But, as boring as this is, it's just a coincidence. This sort of thing has happened with Klingon and other languages a few times, which I guess isn't really totally unexpected.

I haven't yet seen the list of requested words for the upcoming qep'a' -- but you've tipped me off to two of them. Thanks -- now I can get a head start!

Are you planning on attending the virtual qep'a' this year? If so, perhaps I'll see you there.  In the meantime, I hope things are going well for you during these weird times.

All the best,
 - Marc"

So yeah. I thought this message from Marc might be of interest to the tlhIngan Hol community. I also hope that by joining I can learn more Klingon, through practice and exposure, and start translating! Nice to meet all of you.


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