back to article Your mother has a smooth forehead, Klingon language lovers roar at Paramount

The Language Creation Society is very unhappy about an effort by movie studio Paramount to copyright the language of bumpy-headed Star Trek aliens, the Klingons. In an amicus curiae brief filed with an LA court, the society claims that Klingon is a "living language" and cannot be owned. "The greater whole is a living …

  1. Tommy Pock

    Dear god, Trekkies are worse than Doctor Hueys or whatever they're called. Children's TV is really getting out of hand

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Reality check

      In a world where we are all destined to die and nothing we do really matters one way or another, why bother pissing on someone else's fireworks? It's not like they're harming anyone.

      Get a life :)

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Reality check

        plus paramount are just being dicks.

      2. Geoffrey W

        Re: Reality check

        If nothing really matters then piddling on someones fireworks doesn't matter either so why piddle on his fun if that's what makes him happy? Be happy that he's happy, and I'll be happy that we're all happy because this is all on line nonsense and there is no actual piddling going on and no extinguished fireworks and we can all be happy knowing that everyone else is happy and unicorns can nibble stardust and we can all love one another and no one need ever feel sad ever again.

        1. Tommy Pock

          Re: Reality check

          This is my favourite thing I've ever written

          1. Sloppy Crapmonster

            Re: Reality check

            I'm glad that I was the first one to urinate on your self-congratulatory parade.

  2. Grifter

    Fuck CBS rectally with a thorny corncob for their bullshit with Axanar and Federation Rising.

    1. Bloodbeastterror

      "thorny corncob"

      Where I come from it's "the rough end of a pineapple".

      Me, I'll take the corncob any day...

      1. DougS Silver badge

        rough end of a pineapple

        Compared to a corncob, either end of a pineapple sounds pretty rough to me!

        1. g e

          Re: rough end of a pineapple

          Rough end of a ragman's trumpet, in some parts... ;)

      2. Sloppy Crapmonster

        Which end of a pineapple is the rough one?

    2. Tom Melly

      Normally I'd agree, but CBS have generally been pretty good with regard to fan-stuff, and the Axanar crew were really taking the piss.

      On the bright side, when Axanar challenged CBS to detail the exact copywrite infringements, one of the lawyers did just that, delving deep into Trek lore (history, not Data's brother). (page 11 onwards is the fun bit)

      As someone else remarked "Depending on where they fell on the nerdiness spectrum, this could've been one of the greatest weeks or one of the worst weeks in some paralegal's life."

      1. sixit
        Thumb Up

        I'm confident it wasn't a paralegal but the actual lawyer who wrote it. Mr. Randazza seems to enjoy this type of stuff greatly; he seems pretty chuffed about it.

      2. Chris King Silver badge

        "Normally I'd agree, but CBS have generally been pretty good with regard to fan-stuff, and the Axanar crew were really taking the piss"

        After I pledged to Adam Nimoy's "For the Love of Spock", the Axanar mob spammed me asking for a pledge too. They got nothing from me, other than an e-mail along the lines of "sharing mailing lists like this is NOT cool".

  3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge


    "In fact, at least one child was initially raised as a native speaker of Klingon."

    Does the "initially" mean that some child-care agency stepped in, or did the parents come to their senses? I am quite a Lord of the Rings (the books), and Discworld fan, but I didn't name my kids Frodo, Galadriel, Havelock, Carrot, or Glod, nor did I teach them Quenya, Sindarin or Adunaic. I certainly wouldn't dream of teaching those as their first language.

    I prefer to just stick a fish in their ear. Works for me and my friend Ford Prefect

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Initially?

      Maybe the parents only common language was klingon?

      Hence the child picked it up initially as it would have been the most common language spoken around them. But more details would be interesting to read.

    2. MattPi

      Re: Initially?

      "Does the "initially" mean that some child-care agency stepped in, or did the parents come to their senses? I am quite a Lord of the Rings (the books), and Discworld fan, but I didn't name my kids Frodo, Galadriel, Havelock, Carrot, or Glod, nor did I teach them Quenya, Sindarin or Adunaic. I certainly wouldn't dream of teaching those as their first language."

      I just read an article about it today, strangely enough. The guy was a linguist (and not actually that much of a Trek fan) and thought it would be interesting to start a child in a constructed language. His wife spoke English to the child, so he's bilingual. Read on if you want to know how it turned out.

  4. Alex Coward 1

    Paramount can copyright Klingon in the same way that Cisco can copyright the 'industry standard' CLI.

    It will be interesting to see the American courts come up with two opposite verdicts on fundamentally the same thing - copyright on language.

    1. Alex Coward 1

      To add to that. Cisco is in fact making a broader claim that extends copyright into the realm of understanding and acting on a language - not just using it for expression.

      There, this article has an IT angle after all.

      1. John Doe 6

        "There, this article has an IT angle after all."

        What ??

        About 75% of all Trekkies ARE from the IT departments or from IT industry. Our standard goodbye is "Live long and prosper" (yes, including the hand sign). That's the first thing newcomers has to learn.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Read the article - its part of a much bigger claim and the trekkies are grabbing on to the language bit like a liferaft coz they barely have a leg to stand on, on the other stuff.

      1. find users who cut cat tail

        Yes, and the bigger claim and copyright on characters, settings, and plot points is pretty fucked up too if you ask me. You created a concrete work of art and you get copyright on that. If someone else creates some other work of art related to the same (virtual) universe, it is their work of art.

  5. Bloodbeastterror

    Some people just have too much time on their hands...

    1. dan1980


      "Some people just have too much time on their hands . . ."

      Oh, I agree. I just don't necessarily put a group of devoted fans enjoying their hobby and creating something (however niche) for other like-minded folk to enjoy in that bucket.

      Though I must confess to only a casual enjoyment of Star Trek (I often work at night and TNG/DS9 are often on) and have no ability - or desire - to say anything in Klingon, I understand that the people in question have enriched their part of the collective human culture.

      Having 'too much time' is the beginning of many interesting creations.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You HAVE to hear "Jingle Bells" in the original Klingon rendering; the translation to English doesnt do it justice.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Gordon 10 Silver badge


    Whilst I have some sympathy with the Trekkies/ers language claims, it seems to be a part of a bigger element of Paramount stopping Fan films being made.

    Since it appears the fans are pissing up $50k on funding this stuff, I would respectfully suggest they get a life and film and write something original. Who knows they might actually have a winner on their hands.

    The top quality fan films seem genuinely good and the makers are obviously hugely talented - its just a shame they have wasted all that effort on stealing recycling what is clearly someoneelses IP.

    The last thing the film industry needs is another set of sequels, especially for ST which has had more than its fair share of film outings.

    1. Known Hero

      Re: ST:WTF!

      @Gordon 10 Thats the spirit,

      I guess I'll just go delete the stop motion video I did with my sons of a tiny Dr Who sketch.

      Shameless plug ! as I am really proud what we did together and it really sets my point in concrete.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: ST:WTF!" was a fun little interlude that brought a smile to my face. It's nice that some kids still have the patience to help in creating something like that instead of wanting and getting the instant gratification that most kids seem to expect these days.

    2. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: ST:WTF!

      Very, very stupid of Paramount: The trekkies are the only reason Start Trek films or TV series make any money at all, and annoying them is not going to make the franchise any more profitable. Maybe their lawyers are concerned the fan fiction would dilute their trademarks or something, but the solution would have been to negotiate a deal where the fan films prominently acknowledge the trademarks are used by the gracious permission of Paramount, but do not pay for them.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: ST:WTF!

        Oh I doubt it. The new ST films were not really "trek" enough; here were plenty of booing and hissing in the cinemas. Paramount probably want to bury trekkies so that they can sell the new action films to a newer generation.

        Ironically without the trekkies the franchise would have sunk a long time ago.

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: ST:WTF!

        Fan fiction dilute the franchise?

        What, more so than the Will Shatner books (kirk meets the borg in one, it gets weird....)?

    3. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      I always said

      that Geoffrey of Monmouth would have done so much better if he'd used his own material. And as for that Shakespeare bloke - complete plagiarist if you ask me.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: ST:WTF!

      "The top quality fan films seem genuinely good"

      I find that to be quite rare. Most fan productions, whether film or audio drama, tend to have a "boss" who does all the top jobs, including the starring role and then it's their best mates or clique who do the rest of the top jobs. Acting ability seems to play second fiddle to who you are and who you know in so many of these things. It's a shame really because sometimes the stories are actually quite good. If only the author would stick to the writing and stop pretending to be the "star" actor, Director and Producer too!

  8. thomas k

    no Klingons

    That's like saying there are no Esperantos.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: no Klingons

      Yes, good to know that Latin Is In Fact Not A Language. WTF are these people smoking?!?

  9. Anonymous Coward


    I always thought Star Trek was a documentary. Now I find out it's entirely made up even including the language.

    What other major parts of my world is The Register going to collapse today? Is Trump, in fact, a real person? Did the Grinch not steal Christmas? Is Windows 10 voluntarily installed by people? Is this actually the year of Linux on the desktop? Are ads a good thing?

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: What!?

      Are there really weird tricks to getting k$ per hour (as per the woman from Birmingham)? Are people missing out on new insurance quirks?

    2. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Re: What!?

      Of course ST is a fiction! The whole series was inspired by the Galaxy Quest documentary.

  10. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

    Seems related

    (Mine's the one with 17 different weapons in the pockets)

  11. Doctor Evil

    Suvlu'taHvIS yapbe' HoS neH

    Google Translate chokes on this. Weird.

    1. Chika

      Re: Suvlu'taHvIS yapbe' HoS neH

      "Brute strength is not the most important asset in a fight"

      I suspect that Google isn't enlightened enough to handle the original Klingon...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Suvlu'taHvIS yapbe' HoS neH

        But you can set google settings to use kilingon as the language to be used by google products

      2. John Doe 6

        Re: Suvlu'taHvIS yapbe' HoS neH

        I am quite sure that Google Translate once did include Klingon, either someone @Google thought it was too silly or they got an DMCA from Paramount.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spite ?

    Anyone who knows the Star Trek story (my Mum was a *massive* fan, so aged 8-16, our house had every single thing ever written - including the David Gerrold book) will know:

    1) Paramount/NBC never bought into ST, and it as never considered "serious" by them

    2) It was cancelled after the 3rd season despite having excellent ratings

    3) The cancellation led to one of the biggest (it may still be the biggest, since snail mails decline) letter campaigns in US TV history

    4) After the cancellation, NBC/Paramount got very protective and were flinging sueballs at any form of "fan fiction" (it's a fair view that ST *invented* fan fiction)

    The overall story of ST is of it's being made in spite of, rather than because of US network TV.

    Spock Messiah !

    The Price of the Phoenix.

    Visit to a Strange World Revisited

    and of course the first fan-fiction book:

    "Spock Must Die !" by the late James Blish

    Raising a glass to Bjo Trimble - yes, *that's* how much of a Trekkie my Mum was.

  13. Miss Lincolnshire

    tlhIngan nerds Hol

  14. DrStrangeLug

    Axanar looked awesome

    I saw the "Prelude to Axanar" video on youtube last year and thought it was awesome, and I was so looking forward to the final version.

    Several other fan produced not-for-profit productions have been made and paramount seems to be OK with them so long as nobody profits from it. I dont really know why Axanar is different. However having seen the the other productions I suspect Axanar is actually being sued for being too good.

    IDK why Paramount didnt just buy them out .

    1. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: Axanar looked awesome

      "Several other fan produced not-for-profit productions have been made and paramount seems to be OK with them so long as nobody profits from it".

      The "Star Wreck" series was a good example. Paramount were pretty cool about the whole thing, even the commercially-distributed "Imperial Edition" (the P-Fleet ships were redesigned in that one to give them a more "Soviet" look).

  15. Wolfclaw

    paramount execs laH Hegh slow jIvumnISchugh Hegh vo' Bat'leth

  16. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    This whole thing is ridiculous. Are we really the same species that got itself to the moon? How the hell did we build the first cart, let alone fly to the fucking moon?

    1. BlackDuke07

      I do not see the correlation between the story and your example. All you have done is attach something great we (mankind) have done to this story to mock it. It makes you sound really clever, I'll do the same and see if it works for me.

      Joe Bloggs can't even tie his shoelaces. How did we devise theories of the beginning of the fucking universe?

    2. W4YBO

      It's called "imagination", and it's common to all three endeavors. (Klingon language, building the first cart, and flying to the Moon.)

  17. Chas

    Although Marc Okrand developed the proper grammar and syntax for Klingon, the first words and phrases were actually created by Jimmy (Scotty) Doohan for the first ST film.

    This perhaps explains the similarity between the sound of Klingon and the dulcet tones of a Glaswegian who, on reeling back from the pub after a marathon session, discovers 'er indoors has locked the front door thus requiring him to inform the entire neighbourhood—at full volume and in detail— as to his woeful circumstances.

    1. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

      Except for the fact that Doohan was Canadian?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Except for the fact that Doohan was Canadian?

        But then the story doesn't work so well. And he's called Scotty. So Scottish he is. I will amend wikipedia now we're all in agreement.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: Except for the fact that Doohan was Canadian?

          Being Scottish is a state of mind.

          1. Gary Bickford

            Re: Except for the fact that Doohan was Canadian?

            A True Scot

    2. Hurn

      Anyone watching the Klingons battling V'ger during the first few minutes of ST-TMP could see/hear that "Previously actors had just made grunting guttural sounds" isn't true.

  18. sixit

    Many of you will enjoy this, er, brief connecting blog post

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thought experiment

    The British Sign Language symbol for "Prototype" was explicitly invented, on the BBC's payroll, for an episode of Doctor Who. It has since entered common usage among the Deaf population to mean Prototype. Previously, a Deaf, or hearing, signer who wanted to sign Prototype had to sign P-R-O-T-O-T-Y-P-E.

    Do the BBC or Doctor Who have any claim to the copyright of this sign? I know they wouldn't try, but imagine they were Paramount. What then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thought experiment

      What's also interesting is that the sign for Prototype is a compound sign made up of the signs for Vista, Ten, Windows and Despair.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thought experiment

        Most amusing, but actually it looks to me like working something out on a smartphone.

  20. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Paramount is acting short-sighted and, well, just plain dumb. Yes, they have a point about copyright(s), but this would have been an excellent opportunity for massive positive and cost free PR. It adds to my already strong belief that the only companies that should be run by accountants are accountancy firms.

    Anyway: There are also Klingonz. Have a nice weekend, everybody.

  21. Stevie Silver badge


    Didn't see this one coming.

    Oh wait ...

  22. Gordon861

    Why not just add a joke in the first 5 minutes and call it a parody?

    It seems to work with the porn industry!

  23. Mike Shepherd


    an'koLKt !

  24. x 7

    whats the difference between Klingon and Esperanto?

    Both are equally synthetic

  25. Red Bren

    Paramount v Disney

    If Paramount can set a legal precedent that ancillary items in a story are covered by copyright, will Disney have to pay a metric fuck-tonne of cash to Great Ormond Street Hospital for using Captain Hook and Tinkerbell in various spin-offs from Peter Pan?

    Pirate icon, coz it's only bad thing when the little guy does it...

  26. sisk

    I once heard of a man who met his then-future wife at a Star Trek convention. He was American and she was studying abroad from France. The only common language they had was Klingon. Apparently that stayed true for several months before they picked up enough of each others native tongues to use them to communicate. They literally enjoyed a romantic relationship while speaking to each other exclusively in Klingon for the first several months that they were dating and it led to marriage.

    If that's not proof that the language shouldn't be owned by anyone I don't know what is.

  27. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Essential late night listening

    Drving through the night once, I pulled into services and wanted something NEW to listen to. I rummaged through their sale bin and got a Buffy audiobook narrated by Charisma Carpenter (worth the 99p just to hear her attempt at Gile's accent) and "Teach Yourself Klingon". The wrapper said it was aimed "at the tourist planning a holiday or trip to the Klingon empire" but cautioned that if you wanted to trade with the Klingons, you needed the companion tape "Business Klingon for Beginners"...

  28. Turbo Beholder

    > In fact, at least one child was initially raised as a native speaker of Klingon."

    Wait, whose head is screwed on in such a way that this looks like a good argument AGAINST the move? Oh, right - trekkies.

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