presentation   This article is written from an in-universe view. The described person or event is not real but is part of the Star Trek show.


Gorkon is the name of a Klingon chancellor in the late 23rd century. It was first used in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The Klingon spelling of the name can be both ghorqon and ghorqan. See details on the spelling below.


Gorkon, son of Toq, of the house of Makok, was chancellor in 2293 when the Klingon moon Praxis exploded. With the Empire left in disarray, Gorkon sued for peace with the Federation. En-route to Earth for the peace negotiation, Gorkon was assassinated by a team of Federation, Klingon, Romulan and Vulcan conspirators. His daughter, Azetbur, succeeded to his position as chancellor and carried on the peace negotiations(1).

At a dinner reception on board the USS Enterprise, Gorkon stated that "You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon." and then his general quoted the famous line "To be or not to be".

Klingon spelling

For a long time, there was no Klingon spelling known to write this name, but ghorqon had been used in The Klingon Hamlet, although referring to a different person. In a message to David Yonge-Mallo of July 1st, 2018, Okrand explained the spelling:
According to the endnote you cite, the Gorkon in Hamlet is "not the Chancellor who initiated peace with the Federation, but one of his legendary forebearers."(2) If this Gorkon was "legendary," we can assume he existed long ago... maybe in [no'Hol times, maybe not as far back.

The first part of paq'batlh has some incomplete bits of no'Hol (pages 44-49). It's fragmentary, so one has to be hesitant about drawing conclusions, but we can see a few things:

Under at least some circumstances, no'Hol [o] became modern [a] and no'Hol [oo] became modern [aw]. For example:

tyot > cha' two
pog' > pagh zero, none
moy' > may' battle
tunsroot > tonSaw' fighting technique

Given what's in paq'batlh, one might conclude that [o] > [a] (and [oo] > [aw]) all the time, but we can't be sure about this because we don't have examples of no'Hol [o] in all environments. Specifically, we don't have examples of no'Hol [o] following [g'] (the presumed precursor of [gh]) or preceding [r], and we don't know what influence, if any, other syllables in the word may have or if stress plays a role. Given the other examples, I somehow doubt that [g'] would make any difference, but a following [r] might. Note that no'Hol [e] usually becomes modern [I]:

teq > tIq heart
tlhengon > tlhIngan Klingon

But mu'qberet > moQbara' and not moQbIrI' or the like.

We don't know why this is, and it doesn't really matter right now. But given all of this, it's quite possible that ghorqon is an old form of the name "Gorkon" and, over time, the second [o] became modern [a] (as in the examples above), but the first [o] stayed [o] for some reason (perhaps because of the [r], which may or may not be what's going on in the moQbara' situation, or perhaps not). Or maybe an earlier form of the name was something like ghoorqon and this became ghawrqan and this became ghorqan as triconsonantal clusters like [wrq] were simplified (to [rq] in this case, with [w] affecting the quality of the preceding vowel).

Short version of all of the above: Since Hamlet's Gorkon and the later peacemaker Gorkon are not the same person, and since Hamlet's Gorkon is the older, "legendary" one, we (meaning Maltz and I, and hopefully others) can be comfortable saying the Hamlet Gorkon pronounced his name the old way (the way it would have been pronounced during his time), namely ghorqon, and the peacemaker Gorkon pronounced his name the modern way: ghorqan.

As for beylana

I, like you, would also have expected the Klingon version of B'Elanna to be be'elanna or be'ela'na or bI'Ila'na or something like that. On the other hand, B'Elanna is half-Klingon, half-Human. Her mother (the Klingon half) and B'Elanna herself, we're told, were the only Klingons around on a Federation colony, so she was born into (and, as a little girl, raised in) a very non-Klingon environment. Whatever the source/origin of the name (that is, whether the name is a traditional Klingon name or not), it's very likely that she (and her family and friends) did not pronounce it in a very Klingon way. In other words, for her – and not necessarily for other people with the same name – maybe the name is, in fact, pronounced more like beylana than anything else. If we accept that, Duolingo is fine.

Background information

David Warner played the role of Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.


1 : Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

2 : The Klingon Hamlet, Appendix I, p. 205

External links

Category: StarTrek    Latest edit: 24 Nov 2020, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 05 Dec 2014 by BradWilson
History: r5 < r4 < r3 < r2 - View wiki text
The Klingon Language Wiki is a private fan project to promote the Klingon language. See Copyright notice for details.