Geek Trivia

Which Star Trek Actor Is Responsible For Inventing The Klingon Language?

William Shatner
Michael Dorn
James Doohan
Leonard Nimoy
Which Widely Used Internet Acronym Is Coincidentally Self-Referential In Dutch?
James Doohan on the set of Star Trek
Paramount Pictures

Answer: James Doohan

Not only was James Doohan, best known for his role as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, a clever fellow in his on-screen role as the Chief Engineer of the Starship Enterprise, but he was also a thoroughly clever gentleman off-screen too. In the early years of the Star Trek universe, those of the Klingon race were portrayed speaking English without a hint of a native language to be seen.

That changed with the filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Doohan, not just a talented television actor, but also an accomplished voice actor, created dialogue for the Klingons in the harsh and guttural sounding language fans now recognize as Klingon. Doohan’s efforts were just the start of the fictional language, however.

By the time the third Star Trek movie came along in 1984, the director, none other than Leonard Nimoy himself, wanted the Klingons to speak a reproducible language with its own syntax and constructions. Marc Okrand, the individual who had originally studied and transcribed Doohan’s initial Klingon creations, further expanded Doohan’s work, and the basis for what would go on to become an obscure but legitimate language was born.