— Duolingo (@duolingo) April 9, 2015
Though it’s often used as the punchline to a geek-shaming joke, Klingon—the language of a venerable race of Star Trek aliens—is a real language created by a real linguist. It comes with its own complex linguistic rules and is even overseen by a language institute.
Not everyone is happy that the popular language-learning site is adding Klingon before other, more practical languages.
So far, all 10 of the languages available to English-speakers are European languages. Many other non-European languages are in what’s known as the “incubator” stage, only one—Vietnamese—is close to being added; it’s in the “hatching” stage, but its coursework is only 30 percent complete.
@duolingo If you can do Klingon (which I love), when will we get Hebrew and Arabic?
— BadExampleMan (@BadExampleMan) April 9, 2015
@duolingo What, and still no Latin? Seriously?
— Allen Shull (@allenshull) April 9, 2015
@duolingo This is fucking dumb. Put your effort into real languages. What next, Elvish? Where's the Greek?
— Ⲛⲓⲕⲟⲗⲁⲟⲥ 🇪🇬 (@TorontoHooligan) April 9, 2015
@duolingo hawaiian next, please.
— Felix X (@felixwarsaw) April 9, 2015
Ironically, it’s the “garbage nerd shit” that allows sites like Duolingo to function in the first place. The site’s languages go through a rigorous compilation, testing, and beta process, which usually requires a group of committed, experienced volunteers. But Duolingo’s Klingon course was built entirely by one volunteer, B.J. Felix Malmenbeck, who, despite the backlash, has gained a following of grateful Trekkies and language lovers.
In response to the outpouring of support, Malmenbeck commented:
I’m hoping it will make the Klingon-speaking community larger and more diverse :) Also, I hope that even if not many people learn the language fluently because of this course, they will at least have a lot of fun with it and perhaps feel even more motivated to continue with other languages.
In other words: Live long and conjugate.
Photo via davidhogue/Flickr(CC BY SA 2.0)