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Linguist Marc Okrand To Lead Exploration of Alien Cultures on Escape Velocity Extra Sept. 23, 7 p.m. ET

3 min read

When Robert O’Reilly and J.G. Hertzler command the spotlight this coming Wednesday evening, September 23 for Escape Velocity Extra’s focus on Communicating with Klingons – Interpreting Alien Language and Culture, they will share the spotlight with the man who made the Klingon language “a thing.”


While actor James Doohan (Scotty from Star Trek: The Original Series) and producer Jon Povill created a few Klingon phrases and words for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, producer Harve Bennett wanted a full Klingon language for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Enter linguist Marc Okrand, who created a full-fledged tongue for the alien culture while essentially launching a movement to depict in science fiction the logical reality that inhabitants of other planets are really quite likely to communicate in a language other than North American English.



On Wednesday evening, Okrand, O’Reilly and Hertzler will discuss Klingon culture in general, as they explore what is undoubtedly the most popular and celebrated alien race in all of science fiction. Klingon High Council Chancellor Gowron, portrayed by O’Reilly, made his debut in Star Trek: The Next Generation and emerged as a critical figure in the Klingon government. His presence continued into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where he shared prominence with Hertzler’s character, General Martok, leader of the Klingon fleet detachment to Deep Space Nine during the Federation-Dominion War who later, briefly, also became Chancellor.

Through most of the televised series, the fact that interaction between humans and aliens were conducted in English was at first largely ignored and then later explained by use of Universal Translators, which converted detected audio into the end-user’s native language. While snippets of Klingon were slowly integrated into subsequent shows, the movies, including the J.J. Abrams films in the Kelvin Timeline, and more recently Star Trek: Discovery, actively embraced the fact that aliens spoke in their native tongues, placing the onus on the Universal Translator to provide the necessary conversions.

Okrand’s contribution to the Star Trek universe is legendary. Having initially created Vulcan dialog for a scene between actors Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and Kirstie Alley (Saavik) for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, he then produced a comprehensive language for the Klingons which was used in virtually every other Star Trek TV series and feature film. He also authored The Klingon Dictionary and one addendum, wrote The Klingon Way and Klingon for the Galactic Traveler and – along with O’Reilly – provided Klingon language voiceovers for the video game Star Trek: Klingon.

Other work includes the Atlantean language for Disney’s film Atlantis: The Lost Empire. He also contributed Klingon and Vulcan dialogue for several episodes of the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise. He was a consultant for the Romulan and Vulcan languages on 2009’s Star Trek and served as a consultant on Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond.

Okrand also created the Kelpien language introduced in the Star Trek: Short Treks episode “The Brightest Star” and later used in two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, “The Red Angel” and “The Sound of Thunder.”

Wednesday night’s program, will consist of a single 90-minute session, beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. The cost is a $5 donation to the non-profit Museum of Science Fiction. Both O’Reilly and Hertzler will be available for three-minute one-on-one fan interactions immediately following the program (estimated for 8:30 p.m. ET) at a cost of $35, also tax deductible.

For additional information, or to register, please visit https://escapevelocity.events/evx/.