tlhIngan Hol: An Alien Language Primer

This book was a project of the Interstellar Language School, created in 1994 by its founder Glen Proechel.

The following lines show the book as it was written, found on qIb HeHDaq, the ILS's quarterly journal (published here on the web). It is shown here for encyclopedic reference only. Beginners of the Klingon language should be warned that there may be few "mistakes" or expressions not following known grammatical rules. Such mistakes are marked with ALERT!.

Obvious typos have been removed, but the intended setting or wording has not been changed. Formatting has been added to match this wiki's layout conventions.


tlhIngan Hol


Prepared as a project for the Interstellar Language School
Box 281
Red Lake Falls, MN 56705

by G.F. Proechel
Copyright 1994
All rights reserved

paq buSlu' - About the Text

tlhIngan Hol: An Alien Language Primer is an elementary approach to learning the Klingon Language (official language of the Klingon empire). The approach uses a series of exercises that have the student listening, speaking, reading and writing the language. Also to help the student understand the language there are references to the Klingon culture relating to the words and the phrases being studied.

Student Textbook

This textbook is divided into sections and each section is divided into lessons. The lessons provide the student a list of vocabulary words, their grammatical use and sentence structures, suggested mnemonic word associations, some trivia and exercises to translate simple sentences from Klingon to English and English to Klingon. Each lesson builds on the previous lesson and strengthens the learning process through repetition. At the end of each section are review exercises.

mu'tay' (vocabulary)
This section of the lesson presents the student with a list of nouns, verbs, prefixes, etc., that will be used in the lesson.

pab (grammar)
This section of the lesson explains the structure of the language related to the lesson's theme. Each lesson builds on the previous vocabulary and grammar beginning with simple constructs to more complex constructs.

qawQaH ALERT!(1) (mnemonics)
This section is designed to help the student remember the word by associating it to a given image or phrase that may be meaningful to the student. If the given example is not meaningful to the student, he or she is encouraged to construct one of his or her own. Mnemonics are only given in the first section of the text.

ngoDHommey (trivia)
This section introduces an aspect of the Klingon culture or an additional lesson by its explanation of common words or useful phrases.

Qu' (exercise)
Each lesson is followed with exercises for the student to translate from Klingon to English and from English to Klingon.

qeqtaHlu'meH Qu'mey ALERT!(2) (supplementary exercises)
Some of the lessons contain additional exercises. These exercises can be matching, story translation or fill in the blanks.

Textbook Coding Conventions

It may be helpful to note some of the conventions used in writing this text. The conventions include Klingon standard notations and the author's preference.

The apostrophe (') is used as a written letter of the Klingon word and indicating a glottal stop. Words that appear to begin with a vowel will actually begin with the apostrophe.

A dash (-) is used to represent prefixes and suffixes, that are added to a word, when written separate from their qualifying word. A dash before it means it is a suffix and a dash after it means it is a prefix. The dash is also used to separate words or phrases. When indicating a prefix or suffix the dash is attached to the letters. When used to separate words or phrases, the slash is preceded and followed by a space.

A slash (/) is used in examples to separate ideas or concepts when they are contained in a single entry. Klingon uses suffixes and prefixes to verbs and nouns actually making them single word entries. The slash helps to show the noun's or verb's root and its prefix or suffix.

Most headings are written in the Klingon language. When they are, their English translation will follow them, sometimes in parentheses.

Bold face type is used throughout the text to emphasize words or phrases the author feels are important. [note from the Editor: Bold face is used in this wiki to indicate Klingon text]

Recommended items to this text include The Klingon Dictionary, and the tape Conversational Klingon, by Marc Okrand, Federation expert on the Klingon language. Another language tape available is Power Klingon, by Barry Levine with Marc Okrand. These items are copyright by Paramount Pictures and are published by Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New Your, New Your. They can be ordered from the publisher, through your local bookstore or from the Interstellar Language School, Inc. The Interstellar language School is not sanctioned by nor has any connection with Pocket Books, Paramount Studios or any of its subsidiaries.

taghpa' 'ay' mI' wa' - Introduction to Section One


The characters represented in this text are the phonetic representations of the Klingon alphabet -- the pIqaD (not to be confused with the name of a Star Ship officer we may know). This written form, known as the Romanized alphabet, was developed by Marc Okrand using the English alphabet to create a visual representation that the English speaker may easily recognize. Some of the phonetic representations may be a bit difficult as the English language does not normally use letters in the combinations required to make the Klingon sounds. With patience and practice the English speaker can master the sounds. Supplemental use of the language tapes will help a great deal to this end. To better show how the phonetic constructs work, look at the following examples for the letters q and Q below.

q and Q

The small q is used where one would normally use a k in English. The sound is formed farther back, however. If you close your throat off to hold your breath and then form a k sound with your vocal chords in that position, you will have your q.

The capital Q make a q sound and then forces the air out so you sound a little bit like a cat purring loudly. Make sure you start with a hard k-like sound at the beginning, however; otherwise, you can easily form the H sound, instead.


Here is a list of words containing q and Q. Notice how several of the words have something to do with eating and drinking. Practice these words aloud, repeating the list several times, paying special attention to the difference between q and Q. Also note the meaning as it will help you to remember the words for later use.

HIq alcohol
bIQ water
tIq heart
bIQtIq river (literally water's heart) ALERT! (3)
nIQ breakfast
'uQ supper
raQ camp

The Pronunciation Guide section, located in the back of this book, gives explanations and exercises for the other letters.

pab (grammar)

Thanks to the work of Marc Okrand we now have a working understanding of the Klingon grammatical structure. It should be noted that the Klingon language scholar would not use the term preposition, nor would he or she use the term pronoun, when a prefix is intended. To help the student understand the Klingon grammar, the syntax and word structure used in this text will attempt to correlate the Klingon words and phrases with the structures used in Terran languages.

DIp (noun)

The noun is a Klingon grammatical construct and is similar to those in English. A noun can be one word or a combination of nouns and suffixes.

wot (verb)

The use of the verb in Klingon is similar to the Terran Romance languages. For the most part, Klingon verbs are one syllable, but can use a combination of prefixes and suffixes to further clarify use of the verb.

DIpvaD tam ALERT! (4) (pronoun)

Pronouns are not separate words but are attached to the beginning of verbs. ALERT! (5) They are not really pronouns, but their translation is equivalent to the English pronouns. The text will gradually introduce the student to the various types of pronouns. For now consider the pronouns I and we.

vI- means I ALERT!(6)

wI- means we ALERT!(7)

Notice that the Klingon usage follows the order of the English alphabet, (u) V-W (x) with I being the singular and we being the plural.

Here are some Klingon verbs using the prefixes that translate I and we. Read them aloud for practice and pay attention to their meaning:

nIQ vISop I eat breakfast nIQ wISop we eat breakfast
HIq vItlhutlh I drink alcohol HIq wItlhutlh we drink alcohol
raQ vIlegh I see the camp raQ wIlegh we see the camp
bIQ vIghaj I have the water bIQ wIghaj we have the water

Practice reading the above list until you feel comfortable with the prefixes vI- as meaning I and wI- as meaning we. Also try to get the feel of the verbs Sop, tlhutlh, legh, and ghaj with their respective meanings: eat, drink, see and have. You will need to know these verbs in the lessons that follow.

You are about to begin your study of Klingon. I wish you Qapla' (Success!)

ngoDHommey (trivia)

wa' - cha' - wej

Is one - two - three in Klingon. You can remember it by thinking:

watch - a - wedge or even watch - a - ledge spoken with a lisp.

Of course you have to break it down like this:

wa - tch a - wedge

paQDI'norgh wa'DIch - First Lesson

mu'tay' (vocabulary)

DIpmey (nouns)

HIq alcohol, alcoholic beverage (beer, wine, ale)
bIQ water
nIQ breakfast
'uQ supper, dinner (evening meal)
bIQtIq river (literally water's heart)
Human human
Duj ship (by extension, any vehicle: car, airplane, etc.)
raQ camp

wotmey (verbs)

Sop eat
tlhutlh drink
ghoS go, come
legh see
ghaj has, have

moHaqmey (prefixes-pronouns)

jI- means I
vI- means I
wI- means we

mojaQ (suffix-noun)

-Daq to, in, at

pab (grammar)


The Klingon language has a different word order from English. In sentences where the subject (person doing the action) is a pronoun (I, you, he, she, it, we, they) the word order is:


The object is the noun receiving the action. Look at the following sentences rearranged in Klingon word order.

English order Klingon order
I drink - the water. Water - I drink.
We see - the human. Human - we see.
I have - the car. Car - I have.

Note: Nouns in Klingon do not use articles (the, a, and an). So the Klingon equivalent does not show the article before the noun.


Technically speaking, there are no pronouns in Klingon in the sense that we understand them in English.ALERT! (8) There are only verbal prefixes. What in English are called pronouns are attached to the beginning of the verbs in Klingon. Here are the pronouns prefixes used in the First Lesson.

vI- means I
jI- also means I
wI- means we


How vI- and jI- are different will be explained in a later lesson. For this lesson just remember I go is jIghoS. Otherwise, use vI- to mean I. ALERT! (9)


Technically speaking, there are no prepositions in Klingon in the sense that we understand them in English. -Daq is a suffix meaning to, in, or at. It is attached to the end of the noun. In English, prepositions are used in conjunction with nouns to form a phrase. In Klingon, the prepositional usage is sometimes attached to the noun. This is the case with -Daq.

raQDaq to the camp, in the camp, or at the camp
DujDaq to the ship, in the ship, or at the ship
bIQtIqDaq to the river, in the river, or at the river

qawQaH (mnemonics) ALERT!

Remembering words is best accomplished through mnemonics or the "science of memory." This is also called word association. Mental pictures connecting the English word and the Klingon word are very effective. For example, the word raQ sounds like rock. If you imagine a large rock at the entrance to camp, it will be easy to remember.

Here are some suggestions as to how to remember the rest of the words in this lesson:

HIq You have hiccoughs after drinking alcohol.
bIQ You throw a bIQ cigarette lighter into the water. (biq is a brand name - the expression flick my biq)
nIQ You drop a nickel into your cereal bowl as you eat breakfast.
'uQ You are cooking supper.
tIq The heart is often referred to as a ticker in English. Ticker is a slang word that came about because the heart ticks (beats.)
bIQtIq You see a big tick (wood tick) floating down the river. If you know that bIQ means water, then it will be easier to recall the meaning river. If you know that tIq means heart then the meaning will be even clearer. (The heart pumps the blood through the body, just as a river "pumps" water downstream.)
Duj Think of a Dodge car as being your space ship.
Sop You're eating soup. (Or a bar of soap, if you prefer.)
ghoS Resembles the word goes, which is what it means.
ghaj Resembles the word has. (If you mentally eliminate the g you're left with haj which is reminiscent of has or had.)
legh Imagine two eyes peering at you from a leg.
tlhutlh This word sounds like someone swallowing water. Klingon has many words like this. When a word sounds like what it means, this is called onomatopoeia. tlhutlh and HIq are two such words in this lesson.

ngoDHommey - (trivia)

Dargh is the word for tea (pronounced Dark ending in a throat vibration.) Klingons don't drink coffee, but according to some sources they refer to our coffee as qa'vIn.

qeqtaHlu'meH Qu'mey - (Supplementary Exercises)

I. Fill in the blank with the proper Klingon word.

1. __________ vIghaj (ship)
2. HIq ______ (I drink)
3. __________ wISop (dinner)
4. paq ______ (we have)
5. __________ jIghoS (to camp)
6. __________ vIlegh (river)
7. nIQ ______ (we eat)
8. __________ vItlhutlh (water)
9. __________ wIghaj (a camp)
10. bIQtIqDaq ______ (I go)
11. __________ vItlhutlh (tea)

II. Match the Klingon word with the English word.
1. raQ // A. see
2. Duj // B. drink
3. legh // C. river
4. tlhutlh // D. go
5. nIQ // E. camp
6. HIq // F. alcohol
7. bIQtIq // G. dinner
8. ghoS // H. eat
9. Sop // I. ship
10. 'uQ // J. breakfast


1 : qaw is a verb, so cannot be combined with the noun QaH. A solution would be qawmeH QaH "help for remembering"

2 : Correct word order would be qeqlu'taHmeH

3 : Many people believe it's a "long water", not the "water's heart"

4 : tam is a verb, and cannot be used as a noun

5 : This chapter is talking about pronominal prefixes, not really pronouns

6 : The translation of vI- is "I-him/her/it", not just "I". That would be jI-.

7 : The translation of wI- is "we-him/her/it", not just "we". That would be ma-.

8 : This is not true; see chapter 5.1 "Pronouns" in The Klingon Dictionary

9 : Now, this IS confusing.

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