Klingon Kulture Terms
The Legend of Gorath
A View of the Klingon People
This is intended to be a point of discussion, and does not pretend to be a definitive interpretation of the Klingon culture.
Klingons are from the planet Kronos (Qo'NoS), which is also known as Klinzai. The Klingon people are a warrior race who, in their early history, had to contend with a scarcity of water and other natural resources. This scarcity made
them very aggressive and adversarial by nature. Therefore, they became very war-like as their culture grew and expanded out into space.
We were first introduced to the Klingons in the Classic StarTrek episode, "Errand of Mercy." In that series, we learned only a little bit about the Klingons as a people. Mostly, we learned of their discipline, aggression, and ruthlessness
with their enemies. Although we did see their respect for strength, their sense of duty, martial spirit, and the fact that they've maintained a "dueling tradition," or continued use of edged weapons even after technology rendered them obsolete.
Only later, in StarTrek: The Next Generation, the StarTrek feature films, and to some degree the StarTrek novels, did we learn more of the Klingon culture.
The most pronounced inconsistency regarding the Klingons since their inception has been their physical appearance. The Classic Trek Klingons were dark complexioned with heavy eyebrows and usually wore facial hair, giving them a definitely
sinister and mongolesque appearance. Then, with the advent of the feature films, we saw a different version: with the brow ridges, longer hair and facial hair, giving them an almost bestial quality.
Most fans, at one time or another, have asked the question, "Why are they different?" Of course, the real reason is the budget constraints in the original series prevented more elaborate make-up. Were it not for a reference to the difference
in appearance in the DeepSpace 9 episode, "Trials and Tribbilations," we could just ignore it and say that they are actually the same. Worf's response regarding the Klingons' different visage was that it was something they, "Don't discuss with
outsiders," which of course tells us nothing.
Some novels, primarily "The Final Reflection: by John M. Ford, attempted to explain the discrepancy. The smooth headed Klingons were an experimental, fusion race. Being the product of bonding human and Klingon genes to produce a race, while
considered Klingon, were better able to deal with, understand, and be more environmentally compatible with the primary species in Starfleet: Homo Sapiens. The ridged, full-blooded Klingons are known as the Imperial Race.
Some fans prefer the concept that there are actually two different, fully Klingon races originating form different parts of the planet. They feel that "fusion" is an unlikely explanation because Klingons are so proud of their own race, often
with an air of superiority, that the idea of creating a hybrid race seems unlikely. However, a compromise can be reached. Why couldn't both answers be correct?
Yet, in the DS9 episode, "Blood Oath," we saw that three Classic Trek Klingons: Kor, Koloth, and Kang, reappeared with the Imperial brow ridges. That would certainly add credence to the concept that they are, indeed, the same Klingons. This
would work, except for the acknowledgment of the difference.
In "The Brief Klingon History," by Denise Duggan, culled from various novels and episodes, is described a backlash by the Imperial Race against the Fusion Race resulting in a purge of the Empire. It seems quite possible that some of the
Fusions resorted to cosmetic surgery to pass for Imperial. This seems a reasonable explanation for their change of appearance. That would also explain why we no longer see the Fusion race in the series.
Klingons are a proud race and proud of the very state of being Klingon. The cry, "tlhIngan maH!" or "We are Klingon!" expresses that sentiment.
A View of the Klingon People
Klingons are a proud race, proud of the very state of being Klingon. The cry, "tlhIngan maH" ("We are Klingon"), expresses this sentiment.
It is said that language is the key to any culture. Perhaps it's the glue which binds a culture together. That's why conquerors throughout history have often outlawed the native language of the conquered.
We know that the Klingon people have at least two languages: the tlhIngan Hol (that which was invented by Marc Okrand for the movies and the Next Generation TV series), and Klingonaase (which was invented by John M. Ford for
his novels). The tlhIngan Hol is a complete language which we may learn and speak, whereas we only have a few words or expressions of Klingonaase available.
As on Earth, it is reasonable to assume that several separate cultures and languages arose throughout the history of Kronos, then with the unification of the planet one emerged as the primary while others remained as secondary. Additionally,
we know from "Klingon for the Galactic Traveler," that there is a wide variety of dialects of tlhIngon Hol with many slang expressions, various pronunciations, even varying grammatical rules. This could be comparable to various dialects of
English. The traditional, or standard way, of speaking is referred to as mu'mey Doy' (tired words). Common or slang speech, especially that of young people in mu'mey ghoQ (fresh words). Those who dislike the use of slang refer to the
standard as mu'mey qar (accurate words). There is even jargon associated with various professions, such as the clipped Klingon used in battle situations.
tlhIngon Hol, as any living language, is in flux. It grows. New words are brought in from the outside. Outside planted contribute words which eventually find their way into the official lexicon. Also, standard Klingon changes. Whenever a new
emperor comes to power his particular dialect is adopted as the standard. This is known as ta' Hol or "emperor's language."
Language holds more clues to the culture than mere words convey. Klingons are very direct and are distrusting of "small talk." They expect and respect forthrightness. Yet, words can be sued as a weapon as well. To properly speak the
language, one must project, lest the meaning be lost. It must be spoken aggressively. The character of the speaker is judged by the way s/he speaks as well as by what s/he says. Respect and honor are both won and lost through the use of language.
There are many traditional and ritualized uses of language for various social settings. While conducting business certain phrases are used to tell that the speaker is worthy. It is a form of verbal warfare. While dining, there are toasts
which may use special grammatical rules. There are particular phrases for drinking, even exchanging information.
As with many cultures, music holds special meaning. One of the best known forms of Klingon music is Klingon opera. This form is even ritualized, where the performers usually sing in an old style of Klingon: no' Hol. The operas tell of
heroic or tragic tales from history or legend. Other songs also tell tales of mighty deeds. One might sing a song which commemorates some deed performed by a member of their own tuq (House or clan).
Then, of course, there are songs to drink to. Although Paramount has used tlhIngon Hol on screen, they seem to be embracing the Klingonaase from Ford's novels to some extent. Occationally some of the words used by Dax on DS9
are Klingonaase rather than tlhIngon Hol.
Klingons have a strong sense of tradition and honor. They remember tradition, wisdom, and honor in certain sayhings or proverbs. It becomes an unwritten code to live by. For example: vubpu' jon nuchpu' - jonbe thlInganpu' (Cowards
take hostages - Klingons do not); Huch nobHa'bogh verenganpu' 'e' yIvoqQo' (Don't trust Ferengi who give back money).
by General D'ahlkris
I recently received an e-mail from a Federation officer requesting information the Klingon Warrior Academy and Klingon educational practices in general. While I donít recall having read much specifically on this topic, the
following reply is my understanding from Star Trek novels and shows. If you have anything to add to amend, please let me know. We can all work together to fill in the gaps of Klingon cultural information.
The Klingon Warrior Academy exists on Kronos. This is the Klingon equivalent of the Federation's Starfleet Academy. Here academics would be studied, but as in any military academy, discipline, tactics, strategy, and weapons training would
play a major role. I would think an individual would enter the academy around the age of 17 or 18.
Of course begins at home. Klingons society is based on the House, which can generally be seen as an extended family unit. A House may also contain members not related by blood, but brought in via alliances. So a House is a family unit and
also an economic/military unit. Large Houses can also have their own fleets (such as that once held by the Duras family). Within a House, there would be ample facilities for education of the young, including basic academics and basic warrior
Klingons also are very fond of warrior tales. The Bard, or storyteller, is an important but not well known member of Klingon society. The stories generally contain lessons in honorable behavior and the consequences of dishonorable actions.
It is common practice for families with small holdings to send their children to live with a larger House. The children receive the benefit of being part of the larger House and the parents receive the benefits of alliance with the larger
Training in basic warrior attitudes is simply Klingon. Klingons are genetically geared to react strongly, to possess strong emotions. The cultural milieu is such that such reactions are embraced and encouraged. Klingons children learn to
respect power and strength, but are not urged to cower. Obey, yes, but if you choose not to, then do so with conviction and be prepared to fight. Above all, behave with honor!
THE ROLE OF THE WORKER IN A MARTIALOCRACY
It is a well-known fact that the Klingon race has always been a Martialocracy, a system of government in which the warrior class are the rulers. It is also a fact that no society could exist where all of its members were active
warriors at all times. Anyone who has traveled to Kronos realizes that there are people there who cook, sing opera, clean the streets, and manufacture the weapons and armor for the warriors.
In medieval Klingon society there was a definite break between the classes. There were the warriors, the Clergy, the craftspeople, and the entertainers. Being born the son of an entertainer did not mean that you were destined to
become one as well. Anyone who had the skill could apply with a weapons instructor. Almost all Klingons have at least rudimentary skills with hand weapons, and most can fire an energy weapon with moderate accuracy. Many thespians are as skilled as
a Dahar master in ancient weapons as they must realistically portray combat on the stage, and there is nothing as frightening as an audience full of Klingon critics who think that the weapons or combat in a performance are unrealistic!
Although outsiders have often accused the Klingons of being "Chauvinistic" in their treatment of women, it must be noted that a female is given the same opportunities as a male when it comes to instruction in the Arts Martial.
There have been many famous female warriors in the history of the Browed Conquerors, and about 35% of the armed forces are female.
In a society as violent as this, there has evolved a very strong maternal instinct. It is considered an extreme honor to bear and raise children. Many children are raised without paternal influence whatsoever, there fathers being
away in military service or "existence challenged" (Dead is such an ugly word!). Mothers are therefore charged with the proper teaching of the concepts of honor and the craft of the warrior. Klingon females are extremely strong willed, and although
males serve on the High Council, many are nothing more than the mouthpiece of the clever, and sometimes devious, matriarchs of their household.
In the ancient days, the warriors were often away at war for months or years. Females found themselves having to cope with the manufacture of necessary items, raising food, and the creation of artwork. Thus many of the most famous
crafts-Klingons have been and still are female. Most of the great medical and scientific discoveries in Klingon history can be attributed to females.
In a warrior ruled society, the non-combatant is often seen as dispensable and beneath contempt. Refer to the Samurai period or the feudal system of ancient earth, or the Dangi Empire on Adoria for examples for such behavior. Klingons
realized early on that part of the code of honor is that non-combatants are to be spared. Sadly in recent history, that has not always been the case resulting in many of the massacres of enemy civilians that have tainted the Honor of the Klinzai as
And although the warriors have always been seen as the top crust of this particularly hard to chew loaf, it has been the tradition of the Households to act as patrons for crafts-Klingons, artists, and researchers. It adds to the honor of a
house to be the one who sponsored the research leading to a stronger alloy or alter a more powerful disrupter. Likewise, a household is best remembered through epic poems, murals, and especially operas that are commissioned to mark historic events.
Many a long-standing house feud has come about after the untimely death of an artificer under the patronage of another house.
Yet even the non-warriors of the Klinzai adhere to a code of honor in their day to day conduct. If on retainer to a household, they would never give any information to or do work for another household. (The only exemption to this is the
great Craft houses, such as the Goran house, which historically were the smiths and weapon makers to the emperor and all of his guards.) Likewise deadlines and promised costs are carved in stone for the Klingon worker.
As has been noted before, Klingons make great warriors and lousy Doctors. For some reason the Imperial Navy rarely has decent medicos aboard their vessels. They seem to see sickbays as a waste of space. Being a combat medic often means
simply giving the final cut to a warrior too wounded to survive, and sometimes this decision is made with little or no diagnostic forethought! Unlike Starfleet, which sends the best of the best to the stars, the Klingons keep all their really
proficient medical people planetside. Sadly Klingon medicine has been a mystery to the rest of the universe for sometime. In the racial paranoia was the thought that too much information on the inner workings of the Klingon body could allow enemies
(i.e.: everyone else in the galaxy) to create biological weapons. Read the personal logs of Admiral McCoy aboard the original Enterprise to see the frustration felt when trying to treat wounded Klingons. Most of the information in the Starfleet
database has been compiled from a single full-blooded Klingon, Worf son of Mogh, who is presently serving aboard Deep Space 9. His medical exams in the Academy and intense medical treatments aboard the Enterprise D have been used to create a
limited medical model for the treatments of all Klingons and Klingon hybrids. Because of this closed off approach, Klingons are notably behind in many non-emergent medical practices.
Although many Terran occupations have Klingon analogs, there are many professions there that would have no counterpart on Kronos. Following is a partial list of such disused careers.
Dentists and Orthodontists (Any cosmetic changes to teeth are usually performed free of charge by hand-to-hand combat instructors.)
Mimes (Actually outlawed in Empire Space)
Interior Decorators (You know, this rubble is entirely the wrong shade to go with these stone seats...)
Cosmetic Plastic Surgeons (Although the military uses such knowledge to infiltrate enemy races, anything that has need of changing for aesthetics sake can also be handled by the Combat instructor for free!)
Self Esteem Seminar directors
Psychologists, therapists, et al. (If you don't like it, do something about it! NEXT!)
Avon Ladies (Mary Kay dealers are usually captured and tortured)
Peace Corps Volunteers
Stand Up Comedians (Except for the famous Ghenny YoungBlood, whose whole routine consisted of pointing a disrupter at the audience and screaming "Laugh!!! NOW!!!!!!")
Clowns (See MIMES above)
Please feel free to add to this list.