Qep’a’! 2016! Greetings from Chicago!
Jen Usellis-Mackay reporting in from the annual Klingon Language Institute qep’a’! For those not in the know, that’s the big annual gathering of the KLI where Klingon speakers & students converge for 3 days of stories, songs, games, and learning. Beginners learn the basics while advanced speakers get to spend their weekend conversing with other fluent Klingon speakers. For the last 2 years, the qep’a’ has been held in Chicago and will be for the foreseeable future! So, onto the reporting!
The wa’ jaj (first day) of qep’a’ kicked off with a pamphlet of new mu’mey (words). The new word list included words for household items, vegetation, science terminology, time travel, and more! After the new words were handed out, Jeremy Cowan taught the first beginner’s class. This was a rundown of pronunciation and basic grammar.
This one of the great things about qep’a’. It might seem intimidating as a beginner but they do not leave you hanging. Any experience level is welcome, whether you bought your copy of The Klingon Dictionary that morning or you’ve been speaking fluently for two decades. The beginners class ran from 10am until noon when we broke for lunch.
After lunch, mabom (we sang) and we discussed some official Klingon Language Institute business. From there, we teamed up for wa’ ‘ay’, where we changed a familiar sentence, usually a proverb, one bit at a time until it became a new sentence. This is a great way for advanced speakers to flex their vocabulary while beginners start to get a good feel for sentence structure and construction. In the evening, there was 20 questions (nuq ‘oH) and a grammar game to find an arbitrary pattern in the sentence. From there it was dinner time and free time. Mostly everyone hung out late into the ram (night) playing games and catching up with old juppu’ (friends).
Then Day 2 kicked off with more beginner work taught by John Harness. His class, SuchmeH Hol, taught us how to use a little bit of vocabulary to do a lot of talking. By the time we were done, we completed an entire story as a class! Not too shabby for a bunch of n00bs! After the lunch break, the advanced speakers took the floor for pegh mu’ (Password) and anyone who wanted to could take one of the Klingon Language certification tests.**
One of my more favorite “games” of the weekend took place after those were completed. qaDHom wa’ is a storytelling exercise where everyone is given a word and has to create a story around the word. Beginners can get their word well ahead of time & ask for help while advanced speakers improvise their stories. As that wound down, it was time to head to the movie theatre! As a large group, we all went to see Star Trek Beyond with Dr. Marc Okrand, the language consultant on the film. We had Starfleet & Klingons intermingling for the event and everyone enjoyed the movie.
On the final day of qep’a’, the beginner class was about learning tools and ideas for how to continue our Klingon education along with reviewing everything we had learned over the last couple of days.
After lunch, time was set aside to play in the hotel pool and then there was more certification testing. Plus there was a conference highlight, Ask Dr. Okrand. We learned he created the language spoken by the Star Trek Beyond bad guy, Krall. Plus he created the initial language spoken by the alien who gave the distress call near the beginning of the film. However, the film crew decided to change how they did the universal translator. Hence this required more language than he had given them. What you end up hearing in the movie is Sara Forsberg. She is the creator of the YouTube video What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners. She did a fake language synced to match the alien woman’s mostly English lip movements. The actress playing the character is the English voice heard through the “universal translator”.
Also on that last day, we had a large group picture taken and then a pizza party. And then it was time for muchHommey Sar, the Klingon cabaret! Everyone was encouraged to give a little performance, regardless of skill level. You could show off what you had learned, use new words, and showcase translation efforts or new works being written. Ship commander, Maroq, told a story about one of the longstanding members of the KLI, I worked with Qanqor so he could play guitar for me. We performed the translation of Danzig’s “Mother” that I had helped translate along with another Chicago KLI member.
Then Qov told the Klingon fairy tale, HanSIl ghIrtel je’. Then Qanqor sang James Taylor’s Fire & Rain in Klingon. And then gheyIl recited a Klingon love poem. Finally, there were awards and new words for Friends of Maltz, and pins were awarded to those passing certification tests.
Late Night Party
Late into the night, we played with the VR equipment that qurgh ‘aj had brought along, drank beers, sang more songs, told more stories, and laughed. It was another fun qep’a’ and this year’s attendance was impressive. As a fairly recent attendee, Dunqu’ (it was super awesome) to see so many familiar faces but also to meet new people studying the Klingon language. I look foward to next year!
Friends of Maltz
Now, the one thing I have glossed over is the Friends of Maltz. Becoming a Friend of Maltz is a huge honor within the Klingon Language Institute. Maltz is the Klingon that gives Dr. Okrand all his Klingon language knowledge and the Friends of Maltz awards are given to people who have made major contributions to the proliferation, continuation, and spread of the Klingon language. It had been a number of years since these awards had been handed out so this year, a number of individuals were honored.
This year’s Friends of Maltz awards went to Chris Lipscombe (qurgh) for his work on rebuilding the KLI’s website. A second award went to Jeremy Cowan (janSIy) for taking on the organization of qep’a’. A third award went to Lievan Lietar for his contributions to the European qepHom (small meeting though it is quite large) as well as an upcoming book he’s written. And finally, the fourth award went to Robyn Stewart (Qov) for her work creating the Level 1 Klingon Language Certification Study Program available on the KLI website.
This was Qov’s second time receiving this esteemed award. Along with a certificate, those who receive this award are allowed to ask for one single word from Maltz that is not currently known to us – a mighty honor, indeed! To find out more information on the new words, I recommend heading over to the Learn Klingon Facebook page.
Klingon Language Certification Program Level 1 Test
As we were all checking out of the hotel on Sunday morning, the challenge was leveled at me to take and pass the Klingon Language Certification Program Level 1 test next year. That is a challenge worthy of a Klingon and I shall do my best! It would be truly amazing to see more Star Trek fans & linguistics geeks make the journey to qep’a’ to study with us next year! It’s a unique experience and an enthusiastic group of people doing awesome things with languages, constructed and otherwise!
Qapla’ batlh je’! (Success & honor!)
** There are 3 levels of certification testing within the Klingon Language Certification Program. By signing up at the KLI website, you can use their new online tool that will prepare you to pass the first level of the test! It’s a lot of vocabulary but there are a number of tools available to help you memorize.
But, wait. There’s more.
He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.
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