December 29, 2018



Pronunciation question: in general, we've been taught that the Klingon letter 'ch' is pronounced just like English 'ch' as in 'cheese', so this word would be pronounced like "nacho," but without the final -o. However, it seems to me that in at least one of the ST movies or TV episodes, I heard one of the Klingons pronounce 'ch' more like a velar fricative when followed by a back vowel; I don't remember the exact word, but applying the linguistic process of assimilation to this case, the word nach would be pronounced like German 'nach' (or approximating the IPA, na:x). (Not that we can always trust the TV or movie pronunciations, I know.)

So, which one is correct? Is the Klingon 'ch' always an alveopalatal affricate, if I remember my phonology correctly, regardless of the preceding vowel? Or does assimilation apply, so that when followed by a back vowel (a, o, u), it becomes more of a velar fricative (like na:x)? And if so, can the same process be applied to words like noch 'sensor,' nuch 'coward' and Quch 'forehead'?

Sorry for the length of this comment; it would be shorter if I had IPA input. Basically, I'm asking if Klingon 'ch' can follow the same phonological rules as German 'ch', if that helps.


I would trust the pronunciation guidance given in TKD, as refined in KGT (with comments about different pronunciation by older and younger generations, for example).

Actors have various levels of success in pronouncing Klingon properly and are not always good models.

Some mispronunciations have been retconned as separate words (e.g. joH/jaw) or as Klingon dialects (e.g. the pronunciation of H as /h/ at the beginning or nothing at all at the end -- HuH sounds like /hu/ -- is said to be typical of the dialect of the planet Morska).

In standard Klingon, keep pronouncing ch as an alveolar affricate [t͡ʃ], regardless of the environment (beginning/middle/end of a word, vowels before or after).

(As for ASCII IPA, my own preferred transcription is CXS / CONLANG X-SAMPA; see e.g. http://www.theiling.de/ipa/ .)


Thanks, mizinamo. I'll have a look at that link. Getting rid of the German pronunciations that have been ingrained my head for 30+ years may take a little longer ... :)

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