...You are foreigners and aliens here... 1 Peter 2:11  

The Klingon in the Basement

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009 :::

this is just a test

::: posted by Joel at 9:02 AM

Tuesday, March 07, 2006 :::

This is a little used blog.

Testing post-dating.

::: posted by Joel at 10:00 AM

Friday, April 23, 2004 :::

"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
GK Chesterton

First off: I don't really believe that Chesterton was offering a carte
blanche excuse to do a crummy job. But I understand that, as is noted
on www.chesterton.org, he

consistly defended the amateur against the professional, or the
"generalist" against the specialist, especially when it came to "the
things worth doing."

So, GKC advises that we shouldn't abdicate our responsibility to do
the things worth doing, "writing one's own love letters and blowing
one's own nose." Still, I think of these words as a "second motto" in
my projects to develop Klingon translation programs*. My programs are
fast, and easy to use - but take a brute force approach that isn't
very elegant.

So, do I think Chesterton's words justify the violence I've done to
the Klingon language? No, but let me continue in my curious defense
all the same.

I know a little about a number of things. Lots of things: languages,
rockets, shortwave radio, slide rules, the Bible, computer
programming, web pages, and astronomy, to name a few. Jack of all
trades, etc., if you will. Among those things, I guess I've become an
amateur linguist, and I've made do in my own way studying, translating
and programming Alien languages.

One of those languages is Klingon, or tlhIngan Hol, the language of
the well known and warlike race from Star Trek. It is, as I like to
say, a real language, at least in the same way the Disneyland is a
real place. (As a I say, "just because somebody made it up, doesn't
mean it isn't real."

The nature of this language is different from other artificial
languages, because it was made to be like a natural language, not as a
streamlined vehicle of universal communication, like Esperanto. It
was NOT developed to promote world (cosmic?) peace, but to function
like a language developed over time by a rather brutal and warlike

Frequently out in the corners of cyberspace people argue about things
like Klingon, and enthusiastic newcomers wander by. Desperate to
learn and use this tongue they hash out a phrase or two - some well,
most not so good. The worst cases barely have any idea of how the
language works - probably they are just paging through the dictionary,

or Klingon web page, and have a list of a few words they try to use.
Met with scorn, the Klingonists tell them "Klingon isn't just coded

Fine. They're right, but they don't take into account that, should we
have a future where aliens and humans are interacting a pidgin
language would spring up, one which would function as a "coded
English". And generations of Star Trek fans expect that alien and
human languages should be seamlessly translated back and forth.

So, one day, I again saw someone reply along the lines of "Klingon
isn't coded English" and thought, "why not?" I wondered what would
happen if someone (me) wrote a program that facilitated that approach?
One of my motivations was to have a tool to hand off to the marginally
interested - I wanted to say, "hear, run it through the Universal
Translator yourself."

Except I wasn't quite that bold - I call my tool UTA, the Universal
Translator Assistant. That last word is my way of saying, "use this
to look words up to ASSIST your translation efforts." The UTA program
does not - CANNOT translate. All it does is map words from one
language to another. (see http://uta.mrklingon.org)

There are three steps to programming UTA

1. Choose a source language text to use. (I used passages from the Bible)

2. Reduce it to a list of all unique words.

3. Translate each word into the target language to have a
word-for-word mapping

As noted, the UTA program does not - CANNOT translate. All it does is
map words from one language to another. Early in the history of MT
(machine translations) this idea was easily disproved. Here is an
experiment - if you use UTA to "translate"

I do not like you

into Klingon. You will get:

jIH ta' ghobe' rur SoH

That seems great, and it almost translates back exactly. Translate it
back and you get "I do neither like you".

No one of the translation words is wrong:

jIH = I, I am

ta' = do, accomplish

ghobe' = no, not

rur = resemble, be like

SoH = you, you are

But it doesn't fit together at all as grammatical Klingon. Besides
the meaning for "like" UTA has is "resemble", not the sense of
affection or friendship.

The best this could mean in tlhIngan Hol is

"He accomplishes I. You resemble no."

More likely it would be seen as what it is: NONSENSE. True Klingon for
"I do not like you" is far simpler:

qapar : qa- (I-you) par (dislike)

In experimenting I've found that the translation to-and-back from
Klingon often "sounds" like English from a non-native speaker. The
kind of language that forms that pidgin getting-by tongue that springs

a lingua franca that is not the mother tongue of anyone using
it and that has a simplified grammar and a restricted, often
polyglot vocabulary.

So I've got this program - it is a fast compromise for people who
wonder "what does that look like in Klingon". I've written versions
in BASIC, C, Perl, Javascript, Java and Visual Basic. I've applied it
to web pages, songs and newspapers. It meets a need - albeit an
esoteric one. For me, studying Klingon has been a useful way to learn
a lot of things about linguistics. It is also a great project to pull
out when I'm learning or experimenting with yet another computer

I've also learned over my years as a Klingonist is that although many
people are INTERESTED in Klingon, not many are VERY interested. There
is a very short distance from the point of "oh, that is interesting,"
to the moment their eyes glaze over. That is where the UTA program is
a quick answer. "You want to see something in Klingon? Here, use
this program." Yes, I know it isn't grammatical Klingon, but
sometimes.... "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."

*First motto of the Universal Translator Assistant Project:
Using the technology of today to bring the theories of yesterday to
the languages of tomorrow

::: posted by Joel at 4:03 PM

Tuesday, March 30, 2004 :::

The Klingon in the Basement

There is a Klingon in my basement. No, really. If you are at my
house, and all is quiet, every now and then you might hear a guttural
voice call out something like "wa'maH wej wa'maH vagh." You'd know
(well, I would) that that meant it was 1:30 PM thanks to the tlhIngan
tlhaq (Klingon Clock) installed on one of my computers in the

I understand that sounds weird, but it makes sense if you're a member
of the Klingon Language Institute (and I am).

"I wish I were Irish," my wife remarked one day as we strolled through
a local bookstore, "don't you?"

I'm not sure of the date, but it was probably some week closing in on
March 17th. I'm pretty certain there were displays of a variety of
Celtic travel and culture books. My own gaze strayed to the other
side of the store, where the book covers were emblazoned with rockets
and tentacled beings.

"Oh, I don't know," I replied, "I have enough trouble remembering that
I'm human."

It was true. I suspect it sounds, oh a bit disordered, but I think
this is Science Fiction's gift - the ability to step beyond one's
skin. Forget gender, race, color or creed - SF lets you gain a
perspective that is beyond human.

Okay, this "gift" is really the gift of fiction in general. If they
know what they're doing, gifted authors can give you any perspective -
but in the tales of rockets, robots and little green men this is
delivered on virtually every page. My own experience in a lifetime of
reading science fiction is that, once talking rocks and
transdimensional travel are "normal," you discover how surprising and
unexpected is the mundane world we inhabit.

David Fagerberg notes:

"The test of all happiness is gratitude," Chesterton wrote, and many
of us have flunked that test. "Children are grateful when Santa Claus
puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be
grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two
miraculous legs?" We feel no wonder at ordinary things; it is no
wonder that ordinary things disappoint us.
(FT March 2000: The
Essential Chesterton,

The "Klingon in my basement" is my shorthand for this outlook, one I
contend I've received from a life of reading fantastic stories. The
chance to look at the universe from a different perspective, and be
amazed and grateful to explore this creation around us. In some way
it means that I am that bumpy headed alien wondering at this world,
that "Klingon in the basement" who marvels to discover that after all, he
is really human.

::: posted by Joel at 9:28 AM

Tuesday, October 21, 2003 :::

Testing 1, 2, 3

Koko's Halloween costume!

Koko playing peek-a-boo!

A mountaintop experience!

::: posted by Joel at 7:24 PM

Monday, September 22, 2003 :::

MrKlingon LIKES Slide Rules!


or Click HERE

::: posted by Joel at 4:06 PM

Friday, September 19, 2003 :::

Amen! I've got mine!

"Dad says that anyone who can't use a slide rule is a cultural illiterate and should not be allowed to vote. Mine is a beauty - a K&E 20-inch Log-log Duplex Decitrig."

From Have Space Suit - Will Travel, 1958, Robert A. Heinlein

::: posted by Joel at 10:02 AM

Wednesday, September 17, 2003 :::

compare and contrast:

::: posted by Joel at 9:50 PM

Thursday, July 03, 2003 :::

::: posted by Joel at 10:07 PM

Friday, May 09, 2003 :::

Diving In!

::: posted by Joel at 8:10 AM

Thursday, May 08, 2003 :::


The latest HolQeD came yesterday (Klingon Language Institute Journal).
In an editorial, the head of the KLI remarked how he was interviewed
recently and got the usual "why study Klingon" (i.e. why waste time on an
imaginary language). He got ready to launch into his regular spiel about
the values of studying an artifical language, then just said: "do you
speak any other languages?" No.

He goes on to say:

"I haven't revealed a great truth here; this is all pretty basic and
obvious stuff. And that's the problem. It's so basic, so fundamental, we
overlook it. I can't help but wonder how different the political scene
might be if our prevailing cultural zeitqeist didn't include this massive
monolingual handicap, and if we daily confronted linguistic concepts and
forms that were alien to us, so that in the process of comprehending them
we gained insight into our own structures, and pehaps into the way others
grappling with them - and us - perceived as well."

::: posted by Joel at 11:23 AM

Saturday, April 19, 2003 :::

The Tomb Not Used

::: posted by Joel at 5:11 PM

Thursday, April 10, 2003 :::

What the minister should have preached on:

Matthew 10:29,31 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them
shall not fall on the ground without your Father. ... Fear not therefore,
you are of more value than many sparrows.

A lot of modern translations add "'s will", that is: "one of them
shall not fall on the ground without your Father's will." But the Bible
just uses the word that means "without" or "apart from". I like that
to think of that, because it says that, even though we grieve at a tragedy
like Ben's death, we can't say "where was God?" We know that if sparrows
can't die without God being with them - neither can we, neither did Ben.

::: posted by Joel at 8:52 AM

Thursday, March 06, 2003 :::

I'm a member of the Planetary Society (planetary.org) and this was in the
latest magazine - devoted to interstellar travel. Friedman and Murray are
certainly serious space folk - but much more in the robot camp, especially
Murray, I think.

From "The Planetary Report" January/February 2003.

"Bridging the Gap: A Discussion with Freeman Dyson"

(interesting discussion about the ways and means of interstellar
travel. I like the end where Dyson gives an opinion about robots
versus astronauts)
Bruce Murray: I have one last point. We've been thinking about humans
migrating, and adapting in some form, to other worlds in this solar
system at least. There's an alternative possibility: to stay here and
send only sensors and surrogates elsewhere. I'm wondering, in the 30
to 40 years since you first began fantasizing about some thse things,
how do you feel about this alternative vision?

Freeman Dyson: Well, I detest it. It's quite possible that if we
decide to go that way, I will become a rebel and go off in my little
spaceship and leave everybody else behind. So, I hope we'll all be
rebels when the time comes.

Louis Friedman: so, you won't be satisfied sitting in some room with
a hologram of data pouring in?

Freeman: No. I will have lost any freedom that I may have had. It's
a matter of taste, of course, but I hope there will always be people
who rebel against that kind of thing.

Bruce: But it's so much easier to live here than elsewhere.

Lou: None of us, to quote John F. Kennedy, is "doing this because
it's easy, but becuse it's difficult."

::: posted by Joel at 8:18 AM

Wednesday, January 29, 2003 :::

Not so great dictators..
I like this from markshea.blogspot.com.

.....you find contemparies like Tolkien referring to Hitler as "that ruddy little ignoramus" and that "ignorant cad". He is, for the generation that defeated him, but a puny little humbug.

But as the Holocaust and the full depth of Hitler's evil has taken root in the imagination of passing generations, something has happened that is
not altogether healthy, I think. He has acquired the status of an evil demigod. Attempts to humanize him, that is, to remind us that he sprang from the stock of Adam, and not from the pit of hell, are now condemned as attempts to make him a sympathetic figure.

Reminds me of C.S. Lewis's advice about the devil:

  • There are two equal and opposite errors into which
    our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve
    in their existence. The other is to believe, and to
    feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.
    They themselves are equally pleased by both errors
    and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

::: posted by Joel at 1:14 PM

Monday, January 20, 2003 :::

Picture of the day - in Ascii graphics.
Sunday, after church we went to Wendy's for lunch, then dropped Liv off at the library to study, while we went shopping.
On the way home, when we were driving by the St. Paul Campus, we saw three wild turkey's sauntering across the street by the frat houses.
Here's my rendition of one of them:

/ . / oLo \
| ' O/_____/________/____\O
,' / /__________+__________\
/ / / (#############) \
/ / |[**](#############)[**]|
/ .' \_______________________/
/ | |_""__|_,-----,_|__""_|
.' / | | '-----' | |
' / '-' '-'
/ / .--.
| ,' /} p \
,' .' `~)-) / /}
/ ' ( . \ /` }
/ / `. \ . /`}.' }
/ / \ \:....____-'""-.__ . / ' }-;'
/ / -.._ `--. \/ '.',i
.' .' `+ `.-=-; ' } ;:
' | '. -=-' _,;
/ / `-,_ _________.'`
/ `|||
/ .=='=,

Note: I borrowed drawings by "APC" and "JGS" that I found at
Linkname: Ascii Art Dictionary (Andreas Freise)
URL: http://www.ascii-art.de/. For the wild turkey, I started
with JGS's picture of a domestic turkey and altered it.

::: posted by Joel at 9:23 AM

Saturday, January 18, 2003 :::

::: posted by Joel at 10:06 PM

Thursday, January 16, 2003 :::


New CD drive installed and it works GREAT!

::: posted by Joel at 4:32 PM

Wednesday, January 08, 2003 :::

Why I think Computers are probably NOT a fad...

This morning I was paying for some work at our service station and the mechanic noticed my "Windows 98" travel mug. A computer discussion ensued.

"I was working on my brother's Windows ME machine last night.. man, I really hate that that operating system!"

Comparing notes, we found both of us had upgraded systems from Windows ME to XP and agreed that it was a big improvement. From there the conversation went on to the problems I've had with a CD burner. He counseled reinstalling the drivers.

When I mentioned my plans to replace the CD burner entirely, he said "Oh, you should go to General NanoSystems - they're great. I could spend $1000 ever time I go there, 'cause I like building my own systems..."

::: posted by Joel at 8:15 AM

Sunday, January 05, 2003 :::

No one reads this... so I'll use it to sketch out my next AnderBlog entry.
Favorite sights/sites in London:
One thing I was very interested in seeing in London was the Babbage calculating engines at the London Museum of Science. Charles Babbage designed this computer in the 19th century, but (despite long effort and personal, as well as government, investment) it never was built. The museum finally built one a few years ago, and I'd read a very interesting book about this. Not only that, they had more great early computers - both of which were on display in London:

::: posted by Joel at
11:38 AM

Friday, November 22, 2002 :::

Hm. guess not - it seems to work fine.

::: posted by Joel at 8:07 AM


Just checking. I had a report that there is some change in the BLOGGER terms of service. Is there a delay?

::: posted by Joel at 8:06 AM

Monday, November 18, 2002 :::

Great Value! Great Theater.

This weekend we went to 4 plays!
3 of the 4 performances of "The Pajama Game" - produced at my daughter's High School. And the touring company of the darling of Broadway, "The Producers".

The High School show was really a good production, lots of work done by the kids and it showed. Tunes to hum, lots of action, laughs, all on a shoestring budget.

Then to the glitz, the huge cast, costumes of Broadway:

  • One word review: "despicable". Technically very polished, lots of
    talent - but the laughs are all sniggering and crude.

  • It won scads of Tony's. For what? A recycled story with more music,
    more gay jokes, more swearing and more explicit dialogue.

  • There was an Emperor's New Clothes aspect to it. Everyone loooooves Mel Brooks, I mean he's such a cute little mensch! But these happy well heeled, well fed and well dressed theater patrons are sitting snug in their padded seats, smiling, laughing and applauding - what? Good dancers, good sets, good performers all combined to mock them and their values. Turning love and fun into a bunch of sniggering little junior high humor. I overheard a patron leaving the show "Well... for what it was, it was... very good." I guess. No thanks. I'm just sorry the Pajama Game closed after one weekend.

::: posted by Joel at 9:26 AM

Thursday, October 03, 2002 :::

Years ago I wrote a paper about what I called the "mnemonic theology" of Deuteronomy. Memory Activates Law, was my thesis, that is, that the response to God (i.e. keeping His Law) was motivated and activated by the memory of what he had done.

I've been thinking of that lately, after re-reading Lorayne and Lucas's The Memory Book. Good book, and worth review. It has helped in working on general memory stuff, and working on memorizing PI to (so far) over 200 places. Better yet for memorizing Biblical passages. I've been using the New Living Translation, which is so colloquial that I have found "word perfect" is hard to come by (its a paraphrase, so it is easy to slip words around). But the techniques of mnemonics really work, and it helped to refresh the skills - if you make the effort to use the techniques, it is funny how easy it can be...

::: posted by Joel at 12:29 PM

Sunday, June 30, 2002 :::

MrKlingon's Translation of the Ten Commandments, from Exodus 20
MrKlingon's Translation of the Ten Commandments,
from Exodus 20

notes:  I did this after a request
for "the Ten Commandments in Klingon".  Rather than do the whole of
chapter 20, I pulled the commandments text out, in the Lutheran/Catholic
traditional numberings.  I've tried to give a pronunciation guide as
well;  the frequent "-uh" sound is my rendition of the glottal stop
of the "  '  "sound.  The literal rendering of each
passage comes from the parsing done by my online Klingon dictionary, which
you can find here: http://www.mrklingon.org/uta/GALDict.html

World English Bible

Hol Translation

You shall have no other gods before me.

Qunpu' lo'taHmo' jIH yItamQo'

gods due-to-useing me substitute-don't!

kkhoon-pooh-uh low-uh-tock-moe-uh yih-tahm-kkho-uh

Qunpu': (pl) / god, supernatural being (n)

lo'taHmo': because of/ on-going/ use (v)

jIH: I, me (pronoun)

yItamQo': you(imp:sg/pl) don't!/ exchange, substitute (v) (no.object)/him/her/it

You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God
in vain.

nepmo' joH'a' pong yIlo'Qo'

in-order-to-lie God's name don't-you-use-it!

nehp-ho-uh joke-uh-ah-uh pong yih-low-uh-KKHoe-uh

nepmo': because of/ lie, fib (v)

joH'a': God (n)

pong: name (n)

yIlo'Qo': you(imp:sg/pl) don't!/ use (v) (no.object)/him/her/it

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

joH'a' jaj yIquvmoH. jajvam le'qu' 'e' HochvaD yIja'

God's day you-cause-to-honor. This-day very-special-is that to-everyone

joke-uh-ah-uh jahj yihqoovmoke. jahj-vahm leh-uh-qoo-uh uh-eh-uh
kkhoch-vahd yih-jah-uh

joH'a': God (n)

jaj: day (n)

yIquvmoH: you(imp:sg/pl) cause to/ be honored (v) (no.object)/him/her/it

jajvam: this / day (n)

le'qu': really/ be special, exceptional (v)

'e': that (pronoun)

HochvaD: for / everyone, all, everything (n)

yIja': you(imp:sg/pl) tell, report (v) (no.object)/him/her/it

Honor your father and your mother

SoSlI' vavlI' je yIquvmoH

your-mother your-father and you-honor-them

showsh-lih-uh vah-lih-uh jeh yih-koov-moke

SoSlI': your / mother (n)

vavlI': your / father (n)

je: and, also (conj)

yIquvmoH: you(imp:sg/pl) honor (v) (no.object)/him/her/it

You shall not murder.



yIchotQo': you(imp:sg/pl) don't!/ murder (v) (no.object)/him/her/it

You shall not steal.



yInIHQo': you(imp:sg/pl) don't!/ steal (v) (no.object)/him/her/it

You shall not give false testimony against your

jIllI'mo' yInepQo'

jihl-lih-uh-mo-uh yihnepkkho-uh

jIllI'mo': due to / your / neighbor (n)

yInepQo': you(imp:sg/pl) don't!/ lie, fib (v) (no.object)/him/her/it

You shall not covet your neighbor's house.

jIllI' juHmo' yIghalQo'

jihl-lih-uh jukemoe-uh yIggrhahlkkho-uh

jIllI': your / neighbor (n)

juHmo': due to / home (n)

yIghalQo': you(imp:sg/pl) don't!/ be jealous (of), envy (v) (no.object)/him/her/it

You shall not covet ...anything that is your

jIllI' vay'mo' yIghalQo'

jihl-lih-uh vie-uh-moe-uh yIggrhahlkkho-uh

jIllI': your / neighbor (n)

vay'mo': due to / somebody, something, anybody, anything (n)

yIghalQo': you(imp:sg/pl) don't!/ be jealous (of), envy (v) (no.object)/him/her/it

::: posted by Joel at 6:55 PM

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