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Author Topic: The Klingon Way  (Read 12976 times)
Khoroth
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« on: 11 05, 2006, 08:13: PM »

Greetings all.

Over many years I have watched as the concept of the Klingon Way grew from a creative element on a beloved Science fiction TV show into an organic 'entity' of its own that has been growing to the point where it will likely expand beyond the point of its elements being 'owned' solely by any such corporate entity as Paramount (or any of its subsidiaries/partners or owners).

As a researcher/student of anthropology of many years I know that language is at the very heart of culture and tlhIngan Hol is rapidly evolving into its own entity. Indeed, I know of a number of folks who walk a Klingon or Klingon-like path and who are not necessarily doing this as Star Trek fans. The Klingon Way (or an Earthy adaptation of such) has become a cultural lifeway for many.

I was wondering as to what thoughts folk here might have as to the further evolution of the Klingon Way - and at what point does it cease to be simply an 'artistic' or intellectual corporate property?

Qapla!

Khoroth
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« Reply #1 on: 11 11, 2006, 06:24: PM »

Khoroth,

Greetings...

While I certainly can not speak for anyone but myself here, I do (Of course) have a few opinions to share...

Firstly, I am also very interested in Anthropology, in particular the social politics of sub-cultures in western influenced society... I only mention this because I have long surmised that we Klingon Fans would/could make for an interesting study if handled properly... (The Trekkie films don't quite count)...

As to the "Culture" itself... This is a tricky question with no correct answer. You see, many of us who are very involved in Klin-dom take the idea of playing Klingon fairly seriously, but do not necessarily take ourselves or Klingon Fandom itself particularly seriously. Not sure if that came out right, but the gist is that "We know that it is make-believe"...

That said, there are certainly a small minority of Fans who have a more difficult time recognizing that the Rank, Titles and Prestige associated with being/playing Klingon is just-for-fun. To these folks the Klingon culture (Often spelled with a 'K'), is perhaps legitimately a real world evolving sub-culture which would celebrate the Klingon ideals of Star Trek. Usually focusing heavily on the more noble of these, Duty, Loyalty, Honor and so on.

Again for myself at least, I see the bigger picture here, which is that without more "Canon" source material we will have to either create our own {Culture}, or move on... In the FASA RPG rules set of the mid-eighties, the very concept of stagnation was a thing to be avoided... The whole imperial ideal could be distilled down to "Komerex khesterex" (That which does not grow dies), and clearly speaks to the need for growth and change...

This was based a great deal (I feel anyway), on the TOS episode Day of the Dove, where 'Mara' (Susan Howard), is speaking to Kirk about being Klingon and says, "We have always fought. We must; we are hunters, Captain, tracking and taking what we need. There are poor planets in the Klingon systems. We must push outward if we are to survive."

Though this lends a certain level of depth to the species in terms of motive, it is also, as is the case with most villains, rather two dimensional. The Klingons were the bad guys and we're not apologetic about it. However, there is only so much that can be done with this sort of image if you are going to have a main character (One of the good guys that is) feel a connection to their Klingon roots... (ala' Woof...er....Worf).

So it is reasonable to consider that with a limited amount of source material, the Klingon Koncept had to evolve, though of course this would only happen so long as it was convenient to the franchise and the stories... (We have seen a lot of less than honorable Klingons after all)... But generally we see the image change, Klingons are not soo bad anymore, but rather are misunderstood, and  somewhat noble barbarians.

All post TOS Trek, (Not counting the films), tends to have at least a little bit of continuity so the Klingon mythos did build on itself quite a bit, and Fans have certainly stepped up and started (or have been guiding) things ever since the end of DS9 in my book...

But what none of this addresses of your question is the language itself. tlhIngan Hol. How does it's existence add to, change and influence the sub-culture? Again, tricky.

Most every even half serious Klingon linguist I know, is more a fan of the language, than of Klingon Fandom or culture specifically. Certainly more internet oriented Fan involvement then public. (Not every one mind you, but the majority). While very few of the die hard Klingon fans, those who dress as Klingons, perform publically, and really put themselves out there visually as "Klingons" speak much tlhIngan Hol at all. Or if they do, it is mostly a few well memorized passages from TKD, KGT or TKW, with a very minimal command of the actual syntax and grammar. (Again not everyone, just many).

Another point which needs to be made here, is that Klingon is not a living language. The only "Official" source at this time is Dr. Okrand, who plays by his own rules. There is no direct cultural origin for any of it, unless you count the discussion groups at the qep'a'mey hosted by the KLI (Klingon Language Institute). But even these are more opportunities for those who wish to expand their own personal mastery of the language, or when Dr. Okrand is there perhaps ask about new words to add to the lexicon.

So in short, tlhIngan Hol is an artificial language, and there has not been time for a true synergy to develop between the evolution of the language and the progression of the culture upon which it would be based. Maybe in a few hundred years? Shocked

Regardless, these are interesting questions.

maj! {Good}...



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« Reply #2 on: 04 04, 2008, 11:42: PM »

Though this lends a certain level of depth to the species in terms of motive, it is also, as is the case with most villains, rather two dimensional. The Klingons were the bad guys and we're not apologetic about it. However, there is only so much that can be done with this sort of image if you are going to have a main character (One of the good guys that is) feel a connection to their Klingon roots... (ala' Woof...er....Worf).
What we know of Klingon history and culture comes to us from Terran sources. Enemies seldom speak kindly of each other.
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« Reply #3 on: 04 08, 2008, 04:03: PM »

Quote
As to the "Culture" itself... This is a tricky question with no correct answer. You see, many of us who are very involved in Klin-dom take the idea of playing Klingon fairly seriously, but do not necessarily take ourselves or Klingon Fandom itself particularly seriously. Not sure if that came out right, but the gist is that "We know that it is make-believe"...


Very true.  It isn't like we can study "Real Klingons" for answers.  There are no "Real Klingons" that can tell us what we are doing is correct.

Quote
That said, there are certainly a small minority of Fans who have a more difficult time recognizing that the Rank, Titles and Prestige associated with being/playing Klingon is just-for-fun.


Again very true.  We can't act like Klingons because there are LAWS.  If not I could hypothetically show up at a Klingon meeting, kill the leader, and take over as, being the strongest, I should lead.  I would bet that the defense "But I am Klingon!" would not work in court.

Quote
So in short, tlhIngan Hol is an artificial language, and there has not been time for a true synergy to develop between the evolution of the language and the progression of the culture upon which it would be based. Maybe in a few hundred years?

I doubt if you will ever have people living as Klingons.  I do think, however, that ideals have made some impact in modern culture.  Most notably when Representative David Wu from Oregon said "There are Klingons in the White House".  I run a professional stage combat team, and when somone is dogging it, inevitably someone else will say to them "You are not Klingon..." and the meaning of that you are weak, and without honor for letting others carry you, is instantly clear.

One problem I have always had with Klingon Culture as portrayed in most of the Trek incarnations is first, the ridiculous hand to hand combat strategy that was taken from Chinese martial arts.  An art that stresses harmony isn't really what a warrior race would choose.  Watching Worf perform Tai Chi is laughable.  Second, the Batleth (and I have used one) is about as inefficient of a weapon as I have ever seen, and the Sword of Kahless is as much of a hazard to the user as the enemy.  They look cool in shows, but are really horridly designed.

Before everyone freaks, I kind of know my stuff here.  20+ years as a stage combat choreographer (www.knightsofiron.com) , Varsity Sabre Captain at Michigan State University, owned a joust team, 3 black belts, pro kick boxer, and I have had to use just about every weapon known to man at one time or another from fighting fans, to wolverine-esque claws, to lightsabres and can use them all with proficiency (except for 3 section staffs.  Those still confuse me...)

The other problem was that while all Klingons speak of honor, look at all of the plotting with the Duras.  There was no honor there.  That always bothered me...

I could go on, but time is short. 

L. Dale Walter

« Last Edit: 04 08, 2008, 06:05: PM by LDWalter12 » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: 04 12, 2008, 08:31: PM »

     One of the biggest things that I think is stopping depth and growth of the Fandom culture is the fear of "getting it wrong".  And not wrong for the moment, but being made wrong 5-10 years in the future.  Before TNG, Klingon Culture was a largely blank canvas with some broad outlines that fans could follow and embellish, and many fans did.  Fans working withing the licence took Klingon culture a certain way.  ...well really a few ways as each fan had their own ideas to add, each adding a little here and there.  Somethings were better than others, so fans would take what they liked and add to that and ignore what they didn't.   Ford's book "The Final Reflection" and FASAs RPG filled out another layer that fans loved, and for good reason.

     At some point, a decision was made by the people who owned the rights to Star Trek, that all that was to be ignored and sent out the word that the officially licenced books were not to be considered in future TV and Movie Productions.  And eventually went about answering the same questions fans had already answered only in a different way.   They made a new canvas that wasn't based on the same lines as the original.  Klingons stopped being a "militrary dictatorship" with each citizen under constant spying as a metaphor for the Soviet Union and China and became more the noble Savage Empire we know today.  An imporvement in many respects...

    But in so doing, all the work and creativity that the fans put into it was now "wrong".  Fans had to chose between sticking with the Klingons they new or joining the new universe to stay compatible with the new fans who knew only the new TV and Movies.  The clubs that chose to stick with the old fandom are cut off and have a much harder time recruiting new members to offset members lost to attrition.  There was a Klingon language klingonaase which was also a mostly wide open canvas.  But that too was replaced by tlhIngan Hol, which while much more filled in, only one man's brushes are allowed on that canvas.

    So fans are less likely to create, because no matter how 'right' they are in making something very true to the Klingon flavour, they still will be wrong because they were not working for Paramount/Viacom/CBS when they created.

Quote
So in short, tlhIngan Hol is an artificial language, and there has not been time for a true synergy to develop between the evolution of the language and the progression of the culture upon which it would be based. Maybe in a few hundred years?

     The clock hasn't started.  It can't start, because it cannot evolve because speakers are not allowed to change the language.  I've even had to defend coining a metaphor in tlhIngon Hol, even when I used correct grammar and vocabulary.  As long as the language is tightly controlled, it has no potential for evolution.  I think under current copyright law, the clock can start 72 years after Marc Okrand sets off in his Journey to Sto Vo Kor....  Or is it 90...


[Edit -- thread makes an abrupt turn and continues here]
« Last Edit: 04 16, 2008, 10:27: PM by Kesvirit » Logged
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