Pronunciation: Stress

All Klingon words of two or more syllables contain at least one stressed syllable. (1)

Basic rules


In a verb, the stress normally falls on the verb root itself; however, a suffix which ends with ' (the apostrophe) will also get stress. If the meaning of a particular verb suffix is to be emphasized, then the stress may shift to the suffix, even if it does not end with '. The Rover verb suffix -qu' may be used to emphasize a given suffix; in this case the suffix being emphasized may not have stress, -bej for example, but -qu' would be stressed because it ends with '.


In a noun, the final syllable of the root noun is usually stressed. However, if a noun suffix ends with ', that will usually get the stress instead of the root noun's final syllable. If two syllables in a row end with ', they are equally stressed.

Although not stated anywhere, it seems that in multi-syllabic words, the syllable ending with an apostrophe is stressed: In the phrase verengan Ha'DIbaH on Star Trek: Klingon, the stress in Ha'DIbaH is on the first syllable, probably because it ends with an apostrophe.

Analysis based on Canon examples

The best examples for stress can be found on the tapes spoken by Marc Okrand, Conversational Klingon and Power Klingon. Stress is not always done very clearly or prefectly, but in most cases good to understand for the experienced ear.

Verbs ending with -jaj

In the chapter of toasts, one can clearly hear that the verb preceding the syllable -jaj is stressed, which confirms the standard rule.

May your blood scream. 'IwlIj jachjaj.
May you always find a bloodworm in your glass. reH HIvje'lIjDaq 'Iwghargh Datu'jaj.
May your coordinates be free of tribbles. QuvlIjDaq yIH tu'be'lu'jaj.
May you die in battle. bISuvtaHvIS bIHeghjaj.
May you endure the pain. 'oy' DaSIQjaj.
Klingons forever! reH tlhInganpu' taHjaj.

the word ngan

On both tapes, the word part ngan only appears on two words:
  • tlhI.ngan is stressed on the first syllable
  • te.ra'.ngan is stressed on the second, i.e. the one ending with an apostrophe.

On the language lab of the Star Trek: Klingon ("Klingon CD"), it's Gowron who is speaking, whom some people do not regard as being canon. (2) In the phrase Ha'.DI.baH, the stress is also on the syllable before ngan.

In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the word was also stressed on the syllable before ngan.

Summarizing these four examples, one might say that the syllable ngan is never stressed.

Additional notes

There is some variability with stress patterns that is not completely understood. This may be due to different dialectical patterns, or foreign species having been assimilated into the Klingon Empire and applying their original language stress patterns.

See also


1 : The Klingon Dictionary

2 : Note: If one considers Okrand to be the only real source of pronounciation, one might argue that Gowron is not a source source. The actor also speaks ng as N+G, so you see it's not always perfect. Nevertheless, he was coached by Okrand and is considered canon.

Category: Grammar    Latest edit: 05 Oct 2020, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 08 Sep 2014 by BradWilson
History: r11 < r10 < r9 < r8 - View wiki text
The Klingon Language Wiki is a private fan project to promote the Klingon language. See Copyright notice for details.