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Posts Tagged ‘star trek’

Photo: u-theopera
A scene from “u,” the first Klingon opera on Earth.

I was late to the Star Trek party. I didn’t get hooked until the spinoff Deep Space 9, which featured an actor I had performed with as a child (René Auberjonois). But I have friends who are lifetime Trekkies — Asakiyume for one. (She’s a Vulcan.)

Partly because I’m interested in invented languages like Esperanto, I have written before about Klingon, a language created for Star Trek. Today I’m here to tell you about a new Klingon center — in Sweden, if you can believe it.

Lee Roden writes at The Local, “The world’s first ‘Klingon tourist centre’ [opened February 3] in Sweden, in a collaboration between a Stockholm theatre and an organization which calls itself the Klingon Institute of Cultural Exchange.

“The doors of ‘Visit Qo’noS’ [are] open at Turteatern in southern Stockholm … until late March. No stone has been left unturned at what Turteatern’s Theresa Jonasson told The Local is the ‘first Klingon centre in Alpha Quadrant’ (which apparently is the part of the Milky Way where Earth lies, in Star Trek lore).

” ‘The visitors check in at the reception desk, where they will get some tourist information, such as a visitor map of the Klingon capital First City. They will then be invited into the ceremonial presentation hall. The non-hologram live-act presentation is performed by the four Klingon ambassadors Ban’Shee, Mara, Morath and Klag, all from the House of Duras,’ she explained.

” ‘The visitors/audience will be introduced to the Klingon culture and customs and acquire lifesaving tips to apply when interacting with Klingons. There will also be a singalong, dancing, Klingon opera, and scenes from the famous Klingon play Romyo je joloywI’ (better known on Earth as Romeo and Juliet), by Shex’pir.’ …

“Even by science fiction standards, Star Trek fans are known for being a particularly passionate bunch, and the Stockholm theatre has been careful to try to meet their high expectations when it comes to costumes and staging. It has also called upon the help of Klingonska Akademien (The Klingon Academy), an Uppsala-based society with expertise in the Klingon language. …

“The Klingons will be of the more traditional kind [says Jonasson]:

‘The most common question is if the Klingons look like the Klingons in the new Star Trek TV series Discovery, which of course they do not. That series is offensive for Klingons, and should not be mentioned during the presentation.’ …

“For any readers fluent in alien languages, a message from the Klingon Institute of Cultural Exchange in Klingon can even be found here.”

More at the Local, here.

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I’ve been thinking about a book I read earlier this year, In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and The Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build A Perfect Language, by Arika Okrent. I thought it was a hoot! Even though some parts were impenetrable to anyone not a linguist like the author, I really enjoyed it. Okrent is a very good writer and knows how to choose and lead up to the funniest aspect of a constructed language — or of the inventor. I learned a ton of random facts, and I thought I knew it all, having a decent knowledge of Esperanto. Turns out, there are more than 900 known invented languages. One that was invented to express a woman’s perspective is Laadan and has words like this: “radiidin, non-holiday, a time allegedly a holiday but actually so much a burden because of work and preparations that it is a dreaded occasion; especially when there are too many guests and none of them help.”

Okrent gets into the wildly varied reasons people invent a language and why natural languages are more flexible. She covers some languages in depth (like Star Trek’s Klingon, invented only for artistic fun). I loved the part about the U.S. Office of Nuclear Waste Isolation asking “semiotician” Thomas Sebeok in the 1980s how to post warnings that would last 10,000 years on waste-storage sites. Sebeok recommended posting signs in all known languages, plus pictures, icons, and all sorts of symbols, and having the keepers every 250 years rethink the warnings based on current messaging. He also recommended creating a spooky mythology around the site that would be passed on from “priest” to “priest” beyond the time they could be expected to know the reason for it. All they would know is the “curse.”

Too many great tidbits to describe here. I laughed all the way through.

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Asakiyume writes: Your mention of Thomas Sebeok’s foray into how to convey a warning about nuclear waste sites reminded me of this article, “This Place Is Not a Place of Honor,” by  Alan Bellows, which includes interesting images designed to convey horror and stay-away-itiveness.

The poetry of it–it horrifies viscerally.
This place is a message… and part of a system of messages… pay attention to it!

Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.
This place is not a place of honor…no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing valued is here.
What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.
The danger is in a particular location… it increases toward a center… the center of danger is here… of a particular size and shape, and below us.
The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours.
The danger is to the body, and it can kill.
The form of the danger is an emanation of energy.
The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited.

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