Friday, March 19, 2010

Your Nose Is Shiny

Once I was out of college for a couple of years, it kind of dawned on me that meeting people takes effort. This was before Internet dating (well, at least I personally didn’t have a computer at home); I’d already learned it was not such a good idea to date coworkers; and I didn’t think a church would be the place for me to meet like-minded people. So I thought maybe I’d take a class.

Naturally, the class that I decided to take - in order to meet people - was in Klingon...

Yes, Klingon. Well, more properly, “tlhIngan.” But yes, the language that was made up by some Star Trek geek.

Actually, Klingon was invented by a linguist, so although it is not a naturally occurring language, it does still follow the rules that all languages follow and yet breaks some, as all languages do. That made it particularly appealing to me because I had a degree in linguistics. Plus, who doesn’t love a phonology that includes glottal stops and uvular fricatives?

Am I a geek? I liked Star Trek (The Next Generation), but just like every geek I know, I know geekier geeks than me. I like to think of myself as being “nerd-tolerant.” I took the course with my geek friend Mike. It was offered as a non-credit class through the local community college. Including the two of us, I think there were about eight students – maybe even seven, if you don’t count the instructor’s wife, who was, besides me, the only female, and she seemed to de-materialize after about the second week.

The instructor had pointy ears. REAL pointy ears. They weren’t prosthetic or part of an elf costume, and I am not making this up. Well, ok, I’m exaggerating; he really only had one pointy ear, and it was curved backwards. Maybe that’s what really results when Vulcans and humans mate; I can’t know. I just know I learned Klingon from a man, or a being, or a strange new life, with a pointy ear.

I suppose I am exaggerating again when I say “learned Klingon,” because you can’t really learn a language after just a handful of classes, but I do have some kind of certificate that says that I did it. There are only a few things I remember how to say in thlInghan (and spelling takes extra research):

nuqneH - Hello (Literallly, “What do you want?”)
qaneH - I want you.
boch ghIchraj - Your nose is shiny.

Also, you would be surprised how often the phrase "Your ship is a garbage scow!" comes in handy in rush hour traffic. So, although I didn't really meet people, I still think the class was a success.


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