Translation:What do you want?

March 15, 2018



How do beginners know how to pronounce klingnon? Is it similar to English?


Most of the letters are similar to English. The capital letters are actually capitalized as a way to remind you that they are pronounced slightly differently than you might expect. So D is not quite an English "d", S is not quite an English "s", H is not quite an English "h", etc. Also, some of the multigraphs are not present in English. ch is exactly as in English, but gh and tlh don't exist in English at all. We do have a lesson on the sounds, so that you can start trying to say them out loud. And all of the early Skills have audio so you can here how it is pronounced.


Here is a list with some phrases with sound. I hope it helps! =)

From the Klingon Language Institute:



Traditional Greeting (Literally, “What do you want?”, said to someone approaching you, and does not mean “Hello”) : nuqneH

Sounds and Writing:



This is the standard greeting, though, right? Could this also simply be translated as hello?



This is not a standard greeting among Klingons.

Klingons do not greet each other -- they simply come, state their business, and go.

So Klingon does not have words for "hello" or "goodbye".

If a Klingon comes up to you and doesn't say what he wants, you might ask him what he wants: nuqneH? "What do you want?"

So it's a kind of conversation starter.

But it's not a routine phrase, not something to use in every conversation.

It's not equivalent to "hello".

Some materials do translate it like that, and some Earthlings use nuqneH as a greeting, but it's not very Klingon to do so.

See also the tips and notes for the "Useful Phrases" unit, where this is covered.


Interesting how that works. Humans consider it rude to skip connecting with meaningless chatter and personal inquiries before getting to the point. Klingons find it rude (and suspicious) to interrupt important business to have ritualized conversations and pry into their personal lives. Culture is fascinating!


It is, though Klingons act in remarkably human ways, and it is rather surprising that they have never developed ritualized speech, since they do not appear to be opposed to ritual. I would compare the Georgian language, most of whose words for hello, goodbye, thank you, etc, were explained to me as various wishes for victory, which simply became ritualized to be used at various points in an interpersonal interaction. Qapla'! Or maybe გაუმარჯოს!


There is some ritualized speech, but much less than humans seem to like. And not in the area of greetings.


Yes awesome point.


In some Terran cultures it is uncommon to use the standard greeting even if they have one. Or that greeting is used in rather formal situations, e.g. Chinese 你好 (ni hao), Thai สวัสดี (sawat di), or Burmese မင်္ဂလာပါ (mingalaba) — it is much, much more common to start conversations by asking if people have eaten, where they're going or coming from, what they're doing, if they have already taken a shower, why they're not sleeping yet, etc.

When I had to unlearn saying hello and thank you to everyone and for everything in these languages, I suddenly realized that Klingon isn't all that strange. Klingon thus has helped me with these Asian tongues.


Vortarulo, thanks fir sharing! That’s super interesting how lots of cultures skip to more meaningful greetings instead of hello.


Klingon is an offical language now? Woah...


On Duolingo, you mean? Yes, since about 1 or 2 months ago.


The capital H is like the throaty german ch


Yes, they are very similar, if not exactly the same


I think a voiceless uvular thrill is more precise, like in french "rendezvous"


I will only allude to the jokes about "voicless uvular thrills" since they can all be interpreted in ways that are not 100% family friendly.

The "uvular trill" in the word "rendezvous" is voiced, so closer to the Klingon gh. The Klingon H sound is more often described as a "voiceless uvular fricative". Though I think most speakers would happily accept a voiceless uvular trill as an alternative.

I suspect that all languages that have either a uvular trill or a uvular fricative would happily accept the other as an alternative (I would even say that the standard in French is the fricative).


French r is a voiced uvular trill, isn't it? So it would probably be mistaken for a gh, which is the voiced equivalent of H.


Yes french r is voiced


This first Klingon word I knew because of that kid in Daddy Day Care.


No, not Nuqneh but nuqneH.


This fiest sentence is me!!! I nevee say hello its always what do you want.


Should not "What is wanted?" be an accepted answer, as this is cited by Okand as the most literal translation (matching the explcit lack of a second person marker)


Although that does sound like something he would say about it, in The Klingon Dictionary he specifically translates it as "what do you want?". But I suppose it won't hurt to have an odd English sentence accepted for this odd Klingon sentence, as well.


What is this language??


A fictional language created for an alien race that is one of the most popular villians/foils in the Star Trek TV and movies series. Though it was created for fictional proposes, it is extensive and complex and is counted by most linguists as a real, but invented, language. It does not have a practical purpose in the real world, but can be a fun and challenging hobby.


no wonder I've never heard of it haven't watched star treck before


No fake politeness and shallow interest, seemingly just real talk. If I would have a talent for learning languages, this sounds like the type of language I really would love to learn, but for now, I want to prioritize "real" languages and just have time to have a quick look on other systems. :-(


Why in -nuqneH- The H is capitalized at the end of the word? Please reply...


Why in -nuqneH- The H is capitalized at the end of the word?

The Klingon letter H is always capitalised, even in the middle or at the end of a word.

Much like the letters n, u, e are always lowercase, even at the beginning of a sentence.

And q is always lowercase, which distinguishes it from Q which is always uppercase; those are two different letters in the Klingon alphabet.


Note that there are also the consonants tlh, ch, and gh which use a lowercase "h". These each represent one sound in Klingon and are each considered to be one letter even though we use multiple Roman letters to represent each of those consonants. When you see a lowercase "h" you can know that it is part of one of these combination letters. When you see an uppercase H, you can know that it is the independent letter. The Tips for the Pronunciation unit at the beginning of this course gives a little more information about the letters.


This is very strange. I diffenetly means " WHAT DO YOU WANt". To pronounce the H sound you could use a German speaker. In German, they say "ehkh" sound a lot.


Nicht kinder unter 11. No kids under 11. I hope that you meet one.


Я правильно понимаю, что произносится это как Накнэх с ударением на последний слог?


None of the contributors speak Russian and I hate to rely on a machine translator, but I was able to get enough to answer that the stress does go on the second syllable of nuqneH.


thank you. but if i write in English, you will not understand the question :)


Согласно этому видео, это будет близок к "Нукнэх," с ударением на второй слог. Можете послушать здесь от 1:02. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auqS6FR_RDE


спасибо! да, нукнЭх.


Больше нукнэх чем накнех, я думаю, но эта буква q больше как первая буква в слове Казахстан в казахском языке.


Извините, вы правы. Эта первая главная буква как русский а без ударения.




here is a good enough Klingon reader:


Про "на английском вы не поймёте мой вопрос" - зачётно;)


Question: what is klingon anyways?


The constructed language spoken by the Klingons in the Star Trek movies and series. See Wikipedia for more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klingon_language


okay thank you very much!

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