Catching up a bit, here’s a bit of alarming news reported a few weeks ago in the University of Minnesota campus newspaper regarding a guy who sounds a bit like an Andorian with space fever.
With the birth of his son 15 years ago, dedicated linguist d’Armond Speers embarked on the ultimate experiment: He spoke to him only in Klingon — the language of the alien race of “Star Trek” fame — for the first three years of his life.
“I was interested in the question of whether my son, going through his first language acquisition process, would acquire it like any human language,” Speers said. “He was definitely starting to learn it.”
So when Ultralingua, a dictionary, translation and grammar software company in Dinkytown, honored requests from customers to create applications for a Klingon dictionary, they turned to Speers, a self-employed software consultant.
“It was right square in my sweet spot,” said Speers, who graduated from Georgetown University in 2002 with a doctorate in computational linguistics.
Most of the article by Tara Barrow is about the software company, but at the end of the piece she come back to Speers and the tender tale of his, um, parenting experiment.
As for Speers, who still gets nostalgic when he recalls singing the Klingon lullaby “May the Empire Endure” with his son at bedtime, the experiment was a dud. His son is now in high school and doesn’t speak a word of Klingon.
Although some of the things he’s done lead people to believe he’s a “Star Trek” fanatic, Speers said it’s actually a passion for language that attracts him to Klingon.
“I don’t go to ‘Star Trek’ conventions, I don’t wear the fake forehead,” he said. “I’m a linguist.”
Hmmm. Well, to my thinking, some Trekkie who wears a latex lobster on his noggin on weekends is not nearly as … interesting … as a father who growls at his toddler in space-Russian at bedtime. But, whatever, live long and prosper, pal, or, as the Klingons say, Hab SoSlI’ Quch!
– Geoff Boucher
RECENT AND RELATED