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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 September, 2004, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
German radio starts Klingon service
By Alistair Coleman
BBC Monitoring

A Klingon ambassador meets Deutsche Welle's director Erik Bettermann (picture c/o Deutsche Welle's website)
The Klingon ambassador dropped into Deutsche Welle's office

The German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) is celebrating 10 years of its online service by adding a new language to the 30 it already publishes - Klingon.

The language was developed for the Star Trek television and film series and is spoken by a warrior race of alien bad-guys from the planet Qo'noS.

In a futuristic leap, the Klingon pages appear on DW's web site under the date "September 2379", and describe Germany and the radio station at the start of the 21st Century.

The Berlin Wall has fallen, the Cold War has ended and Klingons - once the sworn enemies of Star Trek hero Captain Kirk - are now accepted as allies in the new world order.

And it is in this spirit that DW has launched its Klingon service.

Cars and football

The Klingon pages also have a serious side, publicising forthcoming additions to DW's web presence, such as a much-expanded Arabic service and an international weblog competition.

The pages describe Germany as a nation of car lovers and football fans, and "underline the station's philosophy of multicultural, intergalactic openness", according to DW director Erik Bettermann.

"We should celebrate our 10-year presence in the online universe with a cross-border language. This should help users from other galaxies get an impression of Germany."

The language was created in 1984 by linguist Marc Okrand for Paramount Pictures, and has caught the imagination of science fiction fans.

The works of Shakespeare and the Bible have already been translated into Klingon. There is even a Klingon Language Institute (www.kli.org).

Taken seriously

Guido Baumhauer, head of DW's Online services, told the BBC that although the pages were initially published as a joke by DW engineers in their spare time, he has been taken aback by their popularity.

Star Trek fans and linguists "have taken it very seriously", he said, "and we have even been complimented on our use of the 'High Klingon' dialect."

He declined to give a quote for Klingon readers, saying only "tlhIngan Hol vIjatlhlaHbe'" - "I do not speak Klingon".

For non-Klingon speakers, the pages in the Klingon language also appear in English and German.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Country profile: Germany
20 Jul 04  |  Country profiles


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