Unintentionally created words

This page explains those unintentionally created words that we know today, but which are based on a production mistake.

When Okrand started creating the words and grammar for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, he could begin at an empty page. During the production of the movie though, some mistakes happened, and he had to adapt some words and grammar, so it would fit the words spoken on screen. Since The Klingon Dictionary was not written at that point, it was no problem to change these things. But some of the mistakes happened later, and where hence either added to the addendum or explained in Klingon for The Galactic Traveler.


Star Trek III - The Search for Spock

During Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the phrase qama'pu' jonta' neH was intended to mean "I told you: only the engine". Due to the subtitles "I wanted prisoners", the entire meaning of the phrase changed and some words needed to be replaced or added. See a detailed explanation on the phrase ➞ I wanted prisoners.

In the opening scene, Valkris mispronounces joHwI' My lord as jawwI', and she spoke HIja' yes as HISlaH.

Star Trek V - The Final Frontier

During Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the phrase vaj toDDujDaj ngeHbej DIvI' ("So the Federation will send their rescue ship") appears twice, but with different subtitles. Different to what happened in ST3, the new phrase is made up of entirely new words:

See a detailed explanation on the phrase ➞ Shooting Space Garbage.

Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country

The type 1 endearment suffix -oy appeared after Rosanna DeSoto's mispronunciation of vavwI', which came out as vavoy in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. This suffix is explained in the addendum.

When the speaker of the phrase QamvIS Hegh qaq law', torvIS yIn qaq puS ("Better to die standing than live on our knees.") had difficulties to speak QaQ be good correctly, Okrand added the word qaq be preferable. The speaker also had difficutlies to memorize the entire phrase, that's why the syllable taH is missing.

Star Trek Into Darkness

The entire Klingon dialogue of Star Trek Into Darkness was mixed up during editing, so much that the originally recorded phrases did not make sense any more. The first phrases were made of existing vocabulary, but the movie released lots of new words which had to fit the mouth movements of the actors.

  • In the sentence Qob lIb bam SoH chuDlI' je. (You and your people are in danger.) it is likely that it was a prefix error saying Qob lI-bam instead of Qob bo-bam, so the word lIb was coined.
  • In a different scene, the actor mispronounced Hegh as Hey, which turned out to be a new word.

In a message of Okrand about Sonnet 18 of May 2020, he wrote a comment on this line from Star Trek Into Darkness:
You're right about the line in Star Trek Into Darkness (Qob lIb bam SoH chuDlI' je "You and your people are in danger") – the expected prefix would be bo-. Maybe what happened here is that Uhura was speaking informally. As noted above, occasionally and under certain circumstances, in a sentence with a compound second- and third-person subject, a non-prefixed verb is used (as in SuvwI' legh HoD SoH je). There is scant evidence that this usage is becoming more widespread in casual speech (though it is still not considered "correct" Klingon). So maybe Uhura chose to speak casually or idiomatically in order to connect with her interlocutor in some way. In any event, I wouldn't take that particular sentence as textbook Klingon, though it could well an example of colloquial Klingon.

For details on the entire dialogue see ➞ Star Trek Into Darkness

Other words

There are some words that were created just by mistake.
  • The verb woj (sterilize) appeared after a mistake of someone skipping a line.
  • The word 'I' (armpit) appeared only because someone gave it as an example of an unknown word, but Okrand confirmed that it's a true one.

The verb qa' was first described in relationship to replacement proverbs. These are literally called qa'meH vIttlhegh, where qa'meH stands as a noun on its own, meaning "replacement". It is explained (1) that this expression originated from the longer phrase quvqa'meH "restore back to honor", based on the Type 2 suffix -qa'. For a very long time, nothing was added to this, until the word qa' appeared as a verb in the Klingon Monopoly. It may be assumed that Okrand forgot about the background story and remembered it as a verb.

See also


1 : HolQeD 5:1, p. 10

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