Apr 12 2016

GSBPodcast: Marc Okrand – Man of Many Geek Words


Who doesn’t love a good geek holiday? (October 21, 2015–Always and Forever!). For Star Trek fans, “First Contact Day” is observed on April 5th. According to Trek lore, Efram Cochrane became the first human to pilot an aircraft at warp speed and make first contact with an alien race (Vulcans!) on April 5, 2063. So it was only logical in this milestone year for Star Trek that Geek Soul Brother and The Nerdy Venoms interview linguist and Klingon creator Marc Okrand.

From Marc Okrand’s Bio:

Marc Okrand devised the dialogue and coached the actors speaking the Klingon language heard in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and Star Trek Into Darkness. He also created the Atlantean language heard in the Walt Disney animated feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire. In addition, he created the Vulcan dialogue for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III, and both Vulcan and Romulan dialogue for 2009’s Star Trek.

He is the author of The Klingon Dictionary (Pocket Books, 1985; revised edition, 1992), an introduction to the grammar and vocabulary of the language; The Klingon Way: A Warrior’s Guide (Pocket Books, 1996), an annotated compilation of Klingon proverbs; and Klingon For the Galactic Traveler (Pocket Books, 1997), a guide to the finer points of the Klingon language, including specialized terminology, slang, idioms and dialects.

Our interview with Marc was not just a deep-dive of fascinating aspects of Star Trek history, but also a geek’s eye view of the field of linguistics, particularly on the subject of constructed languages, or conlangs. Marc pioneered conlanging for the Star Trek film franchise over 30 years when he created both the Klingon and Vulcan language. In today’s film and TV, conlangs are a critical part of world building (think Na’vi in Avatar, Elvish in Lord of the Rings, or Dothraki in Game of Thrones). We also learned about Marc’s role as an associate producer of the new documentary Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues, an insightful love-letter to the conlang community.


Representing for the conlang community on our interview–and doing it well–was Kennedy Allen a.k.a. Storm Tribble of The Black Tribbles. The studious Storm, having studied Klingon, was on Cloud (Deep Space) 9 making her own first contact with Marc. She even taught the Nerdy Venoms how to say the universally crucial question “Where is the bathroom?” nuqDaq ‘oH puchpa”e’ (Pro Tip from Kennedy: Say it from your chest!). Marc also talked about the Klingon Language Institute for those who want to take their Klingon proficiency (and geek credibility) to the next level!

Truly, Marc’s story illustrates that having an inclusive mindset, intellectual curiosity, and passion for what you do can take you to some fun and fascinating places–including Atlantis!.

So be prepared to be enlightened and inspired with this special First Contact Day episode of the GSBPodcast! Check out the storify play-by-play of this podcast episode as well.


The Shadow Scout



About the author

The Shadow Scout

Lakita’s geek force within was first publicly observed when she bopped to Herbie Hancock’s “Rock It” video as a very young child. This same said force was nurtured in adolescence through many weekends watching “Star Trek: Original Series” with her father and VHS binge-reserving “The Twilight Zone” television series from her nearest nerd sanctuary, the public library! Lakita also considers herself a public service “lifer” and supports youth voice inspired and empowered by the arts. A live tweeter and competitive trivia leaguer with dreams of learning esperanto or coding one day (whichever comes first), you can usually find her on twitter: @artshumana

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