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Nerds Speak Klingon

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Robert Miller: Hab SoSli’ quch!
Timothy McGee: Boss, he just said your mother has a smooth forehead. It's a Klingon insult.
Tony DiNozzo: You speak Klingon?
McGee: Not fluently, but yes.
— "Witch Hunt", NCIS

Works of fiction by creators talented in linguistics often include constructed languages, or Conlangs, complete enough that it's possible to learn the language in real life. In fiction this is typically a trait reserved for stereotypical nerds.

Due to Small Reference Pools it's rare in fiction to see Conlangs other than Star Trek's tlhIngan Hol (the Klingon language developed by Marc Okrand) or the Elvish tongues Sindarin and Quenya from Tolkien's Legendarium, although due to the success in The New '10s of HBO's Game of Thrones TV series, Dothraki from A Song of Ice and Fire has recently gained prominence.

Truth in Television, though it takes a particular kind of fan to actually pull it off: you need to not only have knowledge of the work, but good foreign language skills.

See also Gratuitous Foreign Language. May cross over with Pardon My Klingon if what is said shouldn't be translated in polite company. A common trait of the Trekkie.

Note to editors. For the more obscure Conlangs out there, please state the work the language originates from.


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  • A Verizon ad showing people with, erm, nonstandard ways to answer the phone had a clip of a pair of rather pudgy Klingon cosplayers answering in tlhIngan Hol.
  • An irate man is gathering signatures against an upcoming Star Trek marathon on Sci Fi Channel, ranting how only losers who live in their mother's basements watch this stuff. The old lady he's talking to suggests her son might be interested. Cue an enormous cosplayer dressed as a Klingon warrior emerging from the basement and knocking the man unconscious.
    Old Lady: (in Klingon, subtitled) You do not fight with honor!
    Klingon: Aw, Mom!

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 17 Again (2009): The wealthy but nerdy Ned tries several lavish schemes to win over the heart of the principal, but all fail. He finally captures her heart when he speaks Elvish to her... and she replies in the same way.
  • One of the kids in Daddy Day Care only speaks in Klingon. Fortunately, Steve Zahn's character can communicate with him.
  • Fanboys: The main characters run across a group of Trekkies and then try to start a fight with them.
    Hutch: What's the Klingon for "I'm going to die a virgin"?
    Admiral Seasholtz: (Replies in fluent Klingon before he catches himself and yells an expletive.)
  • Garden State: Mark is displeased to see that his mother has a new boyfriend, Tim. It doesn’t help that he wears knight armour and speaks Klingon. The best part is that Tim was played by Jim Parsons AKA Sheldon.
    Mark's Mom: Don't be shy, Tim, tell them what you said to me last night.
    Tim: No...
    Mark: Tell us what you said to her last night!
    Tim: (Speaks Klingon)
    Mark: You have got to be kidding me.
    Mark's Mom: It means "I like to mate after battle."
    Tim: That isn't what I said.
    Mark's Mom: Yeah...
    Tim: NO, that isn't the one I said! This one means "Kill Kirk".... and also, "hallelujah", depending on the context...
  • Graeme and Clive from Paul are sci-fi geeks making a pilgrimage across America to UFO sites and comic conventions, naturally they both speak Klingon. It becomes a Chekhov's Skill when Clive uses it to tell Graeme to punch the unsuspecting Big Guy.
    Paul: (After Clive wakes up and tries to choke him) Was that Klingon? You psychotic nerd!
  • The Spy Next Door: While snooping around on Bob's computer, Ian finds some interesting files.
    Ian: Farren, do you realize what this is?
    Farren: It's got you all worked up. Let me guess, a Klingon dictionary?
    Ian: You have me confused with an entirely different class of geek.

  • In Moon Over Soho, Peter puts a copy of a Tolkien-Elvish phrase he'd found on a magical booby-trap on the Internet and asks for a translation. LotR fans quickly come up with the English version, which says that whoever is reading it is both a nerd and lucky not to have been killed. In later books, the fact the Big Bad is, on some level, a colossal Tolkien geek turns out to be a key point in identifying him.
  • In the Emberverse, Astrid Larsson starts out as a Tolkien fangirl, and in the post-Change world, where modern technology has been rendered useless, founds the Dunedain Rangers, who speak Sindarin as their main language.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A frequent joke in The Big Bang Theory.
    • "The Bad Fish Paradigm": Sheldon asks Penny a few questions about her compatibility with Leonard and one of them is "Do you speak Klingon?"
    • "The Panty Pinata Polarization" starts with the guys playing a game of Klingon Boggle.
      Sheldon: Excuse me, Penny, but we’re…
      Leonard: No, no, don’t tell her.
      Sheldon: …playing Klingon Boggle.
      Leonard: Aw!
      Howard': What do you mean, aw? Like she didn’t know we were nerds?
    • "The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary": Howard says he speaks six languages if you count Klingon, Leonard and Penny agree that "Girls don't count Klingon". Later, after Sheldon wins a game in a Mystic Warlords of Ka'a tournament, he shouts at Wil Wheaton in Klingon.
      Wil: Did that guy just say 'Revenge is a dish best served cold' in Klingon?
      Stuart: I believe so.
      Wil: What is wrong with him?
      Stuart: Everyone has a different theory.
    • "The Vacation Solution" Penny thinks that Bernadette has talked Howard out of having their wedding invitations in Klingon, but Bernadette tells her that the Klingon text is on the back.
    • "The Hawking Excitation": Howard tells Sheldon no in several languages, including Klingon and Binary coded Ascii.
    • "The Countdown Reflection": Sheldon keeps trying to perform his part of the wedding ceremony in Klingon.
      Bernadette: Sheldon! I told you no Klingon!
    • In "The Romance Resonance", Howard sings to Bernadette and on of the things he lists that he would do without her is "speak a lot more Klingon".
    • "The Proton Transmogrification": While attending a funeral, Penny and Leonard both get pensive about dying and any regrets they might have.
      Penny: What would you regret?
      Leonard: Mm, you know, that I didn't travel more, take more risks, learn another language.
      Penny: You know Klingon.
      Leonard: That's true.
      Penny: No, I meant that as a regret.
    • In "The Veracity Elasticity" Leonard and Sheldon try to keep secrets from Penny and Amy by speaking in Klingon in front of them. The girls get back at them by speaking Ubbi Dubbi.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Seeing Red", Buffy finds a bunch of documents in the lair of the nerdy Trio. Willow and Tara are not able to all decipher all the documents, but Xander recognises it on sight.
    Xander: It's Klingon. They're love poems. Which has nothing to do with the insidious scheme you're about to describe.
  • Chuck: In "Chuck vs. the Nemesis", Bryce gets Chuck to speak some Klingon to verify that it is actually him. Chuck is a bit embarrassed at first, since he knows that Sarah and Casey are watching. Bonus points for Bryce being a well-adjusted and social nerd (played by Matt Bomer), not to mention a super-spy.
    • Later, Bryce uses Klingon to talk to Chuck while Chuck is being held hostage so that the enemy won't understand that he's checking Chuck wore a bulletproof vest, before shooting him, letting him play dead and pretend that Bryce had ruthlessly killed "the civilian".
  • CSI: Miami: One episode has a woman killed and drained of blood, with a mysterious message found near the body. Upon realizing the house is owned by a woman who writes vampire literature, they look into "made up vampire languages" and find out the presumably creepy message was just a fan letter written in the conlang used in the books (which, to be fair, was mostly a real world language using a fictional alphabet, which would make it easier to learn than entirely fabricated languages).
  • Farscape: John is not your typical nerd but he is still a brilliant engineer and astrophysicist, and in "Crichton Kicks" he shouts some Klingon at the aliens attacking the ship. (This was ad-libbed by Ben Browder.)
  • In the Frasier episode "Star Mitzvah", Frasier's son Frederick is about to have his bar mitzvah, and Frasier wants to give him a speech in Hebrew. Since Frasier doesn't know Hebrew, he asks his co-worker Noel, a stereotypical middle-aged nerd, to translate the speech. Noel agrees, but later on he gets angry with Frasier when Frasier fails to get him the signature of Scott Bakula, the actor playing Captain Archer in Star Trek: Enterprise. Noel retaliates by translating the bar mitzvah speech into Klingon, a language which he apparently knows well, but which Frasier can't distinguish from Hebrew. Naturally, Frasier ends up humiliating himself as the attendees at the bar mitzvah immediately know he's not speaking Hebrew. It turns out that one of Freddie's friends also speaks Klingon and is able to translate it back to English and tell him what his dad was trying to say.
  • How I Met Your Mother
    • "The Duel": Robin goes on date with a nerdy guy to prove a point to Barney. After it starts to go bad, she gets a phone call about Lily being in hospital. The nerd believes that it is a fake call to get her out of the date and insults her in Klingon.
    • In the "Double Date" episode, Marshall (a huge fan of Star Wars, along with the rest of the male cast) expressed interest in finding a Wookiee-to-English dictionary (or even just an everyday phrasebook). While wearing a Wookiee costume en route to a Wookiee convention.
    • In "Unpause", when Barney (also a fan of Star Wars) is very drunk, he is capable of speaking Huttese like Jabba the Hutt.
  • NCIS: McGee is portrayed as a nerd and in "Witch Hunt", he translates for a guy who insults Gibbs in Klingon.
  • Sebastian Lund and Patton Plame of NCIS: New Orleans are both members of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbaccus and can speak Shyriiwook.
  • In an episode of The Neighborhood, Marty meets movie star Jasmine and is immediately lovestruck. Marty admits he has trouble speaking English around beautiful women. "Too bad you don't speak Klingon," he says. But she does and the conversation in Klingon soon moves to marriage and babies.
  • The Office (US) "Andy's Ancestry": When Erin starts learning a language to impress Andy's family, Dwight convinces her to stop learning French and start learning Dothraki under his tutelage. She doesn't realize that it is a Conlang and is dejected when Andy tells her that she was doing something he considers so nerdy. Pete gives her a Dothraki farewell at the end, another hint of his crush on her.
    Erin: I'm learning how to speak Dothraki! Color you impressed?
    Andy: That you’re learning a made-up language from HBO’s Game of Thrones? I have a lot going on today...but this was a great nerd-out!
    Erin: Dwight, you didn't tell me you were teaching me a fake language.
    Dwight: People laughed at Klingon at first, and now you can major in it.
  • Ben Wyatt on Parks and Recreation speaks Dothraki.
  • Leverage: In "The Nigerian Job", Elliot is posing as a geeky IT technician. When the secretary he is distracting comments on how strong he is, he says he works out because he likes to go to conventions as a Klingon. He then says something to her in Klingon, which she replies to.
    Parker: It's like the Klingon metaphor goes: [speaks a Klingon phrase]
    Eliot: "Even a fool buys stone for his house." [Breanna looks at him; he rushes out an explanation] Hardison bet me that I couldn't learn the language. He lost.
    Breanna: Did he?
  • Gets in Detective Ryan's way in the Castle episode "The Final Frontier" when a cosplayer at a con refuses to break character while being interviewed regarding the murder of the week. The guy behind him identifies the language but says he doesn't speak it any more than Ryan does.
  • On Blackish, both Junior and his girlfriend speak Dothraki to each other.
  • Star Trek: Picard: Kestra, daughter of Will Riker and Deanna Troi, slips in and out of Viveen, one of twelve Conlangs that her deceased older brother Thaddeus created in his youth. It goes with a sort of High Fantasy "Wild Girl of the Woods" persona she cosplays while out hunting for game.


    Newspaper Comics 
  • Foxtrot: At a showing of a Star Trek movie, Jason (in Klingon costume) demands fresh gagh from the beleaguered movie worker. Another strip has him ask Peter to check whether he's memorized the Klingon-English dictionary.

  • Darths & Droids:
    • In strip #1019, Pete (R2-D2) rolls a die with the numbers written in Tengwar. (He has a lot of custom dice.)
      Dungeon Master: Okay, I can't read Quenya. What does it say?
      Pete: (sigh) It says "your periscope is (Tengwar) rácina." <broken>
    • Exploited in #1180: Watch Your < bleeping > Language. Turns out that while Pete-as-Artoo speaks only in beeps, they're actually a Conlang all their own, and Ben deciphered them.
      Chewbacca (Ben): Your beeps made me realize something was wrong. They didn't match what you were saying.
      Luke (Corey): You mean those silly beeps from Pete's phone actually mean something?
      R2-D2: You deciphered my beep language?
      Chewbacca: It was hard work. But evidently worth the effort. Ever since you said "boop" means "no", I've kept detailed notes. You said "rock the ship and roll" but "boobleep" means "lock" and "eeroo-biddle" means "happy-speak", which I figured means "LOL".
      R2-D2: Wow, I never knew I had an audience.
      C-3PO (Sally): Why would you expect anyone to have gone to so much trouble to make a consistent language out of beeps?
      Chewbacca: It's Pete!
  • Planescape Survival Guide: When Talanard, Twag, and Telv arrive on the First World they're fortunate enough to appear at a Con and meet a girl who knows Elvish, as apparently Common is nothing like English.
  • Something*Positive: Kim tries to cheer Davan up about being at the gaming con, saying that the attendees are his "people". Just then, two very stereotypical nerds walk by and one insults the other in Klingon. Davan is offended.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: In "All About Steve", Stan hunts down a domestic terrorist hacker who sends taunting messages that the CIA cannot decipher. Snot recognizes the writing as Elvish and sure enough, the hacker turns out to be a nerdy LotR fan.
    They're doing a Klingon wedding, followed by a Klingon divorce.
    You said it! Get a prenup.
  • The Cleveland Show "Love Rollercoaster": When a trio of nerds mock Junior's model rocket entry in the Science Fair, he asks them what their entry is. The lead nerd tells him that they "translated Monty Python and the Holy Grail into Klingon, and we're going to do a shot-for-shot, Stop Motion remake using vintage, new-in-box, eight-inch, Mego DC Comics action figures", combining a lot of nerd stereotypes into one.
    Trio: (High five each other) Nerds!
  • The Simpsons
    • "Three Men and a Comic Book": Comic Book Guy mentions that he has a Masters in Folklore and Mythology, part of which involved translating The Lord of the Rings into Klingon.
    • "Worst Episode Ever": After he gets thrown out of Moe's, Comic Book Guy asks himself "Is there a word in Klingon for loneliness?", looks in his pocket dictionary, "Oh, yes. Garr'dock!"
    • "My Big Fat Geek Wedding": When Comic Book Guy tries to get married to Edna Krabappel, the ceremony is conducted in Klingon. Apparently, the guests (sci-fi convention attendees) can all understand it. At the end of the episode, Homer and Marge get remarried by a Klingon-speaking priest, and Homer knows enough Klingon to know Marge accidentally said "I do" to raising their kids Klingon.
      Comic Book Guy: Edna, the Klingons have a romantic saying. (speaks Klingon) Roughly translated, it means 'I would kill the children of a thousand planets just to see you smile'.
      Edna: Oh, that is the most romantic thing I've ever heard. Which is kinda sad if you think about it.
    • "Moms I'd Like to Forget"
      Comic Book Guy: The answer is no, and I can say it in Na'vi and Klingon, which are pretty much the same. I have some theories about that, which I will share with you never.
    • "The Book Job": Marge's sister, Patty, claims to be fluent in every fictional language—from Dothraki (which is from Game of Thrones) to Parseltongue (the serpent-language from Harry Potter).
  • While pursuing Freakazoid! into a comic book convention, Cave Guy runs into an attendant in full Klingon regalia, who speaks to him in Klingon, and hands him a Klingon dictionary when Cave Guy has no idea what he's babbling about.
    Cave Guy: *freaked out* Oh've made up a language based on a TV show? That's not right!

tlhIngan maH! quv tropTaH! trans. 

Alternative Title(s): Nerds Speak Con Lang