So the Wall Street Journal
has one of their legendary "B-heds" on the front page today about a drama troupe that has produced a version of Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol . . . in Klingon
. The story is full of fun tidbits such as how the Klingon Dictionary produced as a promotion for the 1984 installment in the Star Trek
movie series has sold 300,000 copies and gone through 20 printings. There's even a Klingon Language Institute in Pennsylvania. (Does the civil rights community know this? Another faction in need of affirmative action?--Ed
. Don't give them any ideas. . .)
Contrast the durability of Klingon with the other famous artificial language: Esperanto. Back in my California days I liked to drop in on Earth Day fairs just for grins, and you could always count on the most forlorn table--even less traffic than the tables for home-made, hemp-related cancer cure remedies--was the table for the World Esperanto Associatio
n (which apparently doesn't even have a website). Esperanto was one of those Progressive enthusiasms that made perfect sense to the "rationalists"--a universal second language that everyone could learn easily. Well, it never caught on, and English has become the universal second language of the world.
So what to make of a language that caught on and has popularity without ever intending it, while the "rational" project of Esperanto got nowhere? Another lesson in the unplanned, spontaneous order, if you ask me.
The other lesson here is the towering genius of William Shatner. As connoisseurs of Star Trek IV
know, he spoke a line of two of Klingon in the film. But recall, too, that the only feature film ever made in Esperanto, the 1965 shlock-horror film Incubus
, starred . . . yup, William Shatner. Which means Shatner is the only actor who has ever starred in movies with two
made-up languages. That is true greatness.