Coming to terms with being human.



I, like so many of my fellow countryfolk, can only speak English. Oh, I know a phrase or two from various tongues but realistically after a polite, "hello, how are you" I'm basically spent. Bilingualism does not seem to be much valued in American culture. Which is why, while enjoying an old Deep Space 9 episode, I began to dwell on the question of American geeks and manmade languages.
We love the fake languages. Heck, I'll be hunted down and ritually killed just for referring to something like Klingon as "fake". After all, Klingon has its own institute. The bible's being translated into it. Klingon receives more air time than Navajo. Why question devotion to a language that will only help you understand fellow trek/ies/ers/freaks?

It's unfair, I admit. Europeans are as likely to geek out on fantasy languages. Look at Tolkein. He worked on elvish (in various forms and "historical" eras) for years and he didn't have any conventions to show off at. I suppose the modern form is Potter Pig Latin. Go hangout at any middle school playground and you'll find a coven of muggles in Hogwart's clothing sputtering nonsense with the flick of a pencil. You'll also get arrested for hanging out at a middle school playground.

Potter fans are a prime example of the difference between Klingon or Quenya and a more usual conception of what a language is. A standard language, for all it's exclusionary properties, develops and is passed on for the purpose of communication. Where as Klingon is learned for the purpose of clique formation. A cry of tlhIngan maH is comparable to fo' shizzle my nizzle. It fills the same psychological need as slang; the desire to signify bonding through exclusion.

Now, I'm all for bonding through exclusion. Which is why I have learned to write my full name in elvish (both Quenya and Sindarin...goosebumps!) You too can join the club. Think of it as inspiration for a tatoo. Maybe arching across the shoulder or banded across the arm?


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