TLAs DOA? TBD!—Claude Searsplainpockets SpecGram Vol CLII, No 2 Contents Systematic Suppletion: An Investigation of Ksotre Case Marking—Lawrence R. Muddybanks, Ph.D.

A Braille Orthography for tlhIngan

Stovepipe Wells-Jensen

Origin of the System

In the Klingon Empire, charity
— Japanese
and social programs, thought to be essentials of civilization in Federation space, are rare indeed. The dependent and weak-willed products of that softer society might thus be surprised to learn that education of blind Klingons has been a matter of course in the Empire for millennia. Klingons know that if their spirits are not broken by coddling, blind youngsters mature into self-sufficient citizens and skillful and deadly combatants. It is unwise to anger these warriors lest one find oneself suddenly alone in a darkened corridor with a very serious problem.

A tactile writing system was thus a natural development of a culture of true warriors and free citizens, not a system created and taught by well-intentioned “educators”. Recognizing the value of being able to read and write in darkness, warriors who are not blind, especially ambitious and resourceful warriors, learn the system and use the ability to their great advantage.

Sampan saya penuh
dengan belut
— Malay

The System

There are, in fact, two varieties of tactile writing in Klingon. For simplicity’s sake, we can refer to both as ‘Braille’, as both employ the basic system known to Terrans by that name. The two varieties are Earth Normalized (EN) and Streamlined Galactic (SG). Both use the same 6-dot cell which consists of two columns of three dots: ⠿. To facilitate discussion, dots are numbered. The left column contains dots 1, 2, and 3 from top to bottom and the right dots 4, 5, and 6, also from top to bottom. Characters are created by utilizing combinations of those six dots.

Earth Normalized

EN is used primarily by off-world researchers and students on Earth. It is essentially the same as uncontracted old Terran English Braille, and it is simple to transliterate standard Klingon orthography into EN. A dot-six in the cell preceding a letter indicates capitalization. As with printed Klingon, capitalization cannot be used to mark beginnings of sentences or to indicate proper names. Here is the EN system.

EN ⠠⠙ ⠉⠓ ⠛⠓ ⠠⠓ ⠝⠛
print bDchghHjlmnngp
EN ⠠⠟ ⠠⠎ ⠞⠇⠓
print rqQSttlhvwy
EN ⠠⠊
print aeIou
Moje vozilo na zračni
blazini je polno jegulj
— Slovenian

Streamlined Galactic

SG is different from EN in several ways. First, it eliminates the use of the prefixed capital sign. The dot six (which indicated the capital) is added to the dots used to make the letter itself. Thus, D ⠠⠙ becomes ⠹, H ⠠⠓ becomes ⠳, Q ⠠⠟ becomes ⠿, S ⠠⠎ becomes ⠮, and I ⠠⠊ becomes ⠪.

Another difference between EN and SG lies in how two and three letter combinations are written. One symbol is used in each case where two letters are used in the EN or print system. These symbols bear no resemblance to the letters they replace; they must be memorized. Those familiar with old Terran English Braille will be familiar with some of these. This similarity of systems is taken by many scholars as evidence that the Terran system was derived from the much older Klingon rather than being invented separately. In SG, ch is written ⠡, gh is written ⠣, and ng is written as ⠬. The usual esthetic that operates in Braille codes would tend to indicate that tlh should be written as
My skeertuig
is vol palings
— Afrikaans
⠿. Unfortunately, that symbol is already at use in SG for Q. Using one symbol for both sounds would result in regrettable confusion between such words as tlhob (to ask) and Qob (to be dangerous). Thus, the reasonably similar ⠭ is used for tlh.

Below, you will find the SG system, followed by EN and the print representations for reference.

EN ⠠⠙ ⠉⠓ ⠛⠓ ⠠⠓ ⠝⠛
print bDchghHjlmnngp
EN ⠠⠟ ⠠⠎ ⠞⠇⠓
print rqQSttlhvwy
EN ⠠⠊
print aeIou

SG has
Min svävare är
full av ålar
— Swedish
several advantages over EN. The elimination of the prefixed capital sign and reduction of two or three letter sequences to one character make the system more compact. This makes SG faster to read and makes it take up less space on a page than does EN. It is also possible to write more quickly. Note that contracted Braille is the standard in the Braille codes for many Terran languages and has in fact been shown to dramatically increase reading and writing speed. All of this is important when fractions of a second taken up in reading and writing messages could mean the difference between victory and destruction.


Equivalents of the Terran punctuation symbols are available in EN and SG. They are written immediately following the sentenced with no space between the symbol and the last letter of the sentence. All of these symbols are written in the lower part of the Braille cell, using only dots 2, 3, 5, and 6.

print . ? ! , ( and )

Моето летачко возило
е полно со јагули
— Macedonian
the capitalization sign cannot readily be used in EN, it can be reclaimed in the SG system. Placing a dot six in the cell preceding a word or letter indicates emphasis: the print equivalent of use of a larger or brighter font or of underlining. For extra emphasis, two can be used to indicate more urgency. A finger tracing rapidly across a line written in SG can quickly detect the capital mark, especially if more than one are used together.

Modes of Writing

On earth, there are two basic options for producing Braille on paper by hand. One is a Perkins Brailler: a machine akin to a typewriter with six keys (one for each dot) a space bar, backspace and line-advance key. Paper is wound into the machine like a typewriter and pins, one
Mój poduszkowiec
jest pełen węgorzy
— Polish
controlled by each of the six keys, perforate the paper from beneath. A more portable option is a slate and stylus. A slate is a metal or plastic frame into which a piece of paper is inserted. The pointed stylus is used to perforate the paper with placement of each dot in each cell guided by the frame. Note that dots are pressed into the paper so that the embossed dots appear on the other side when the paper is turned over. This is like writing into a mirror and means each letter is made backwards and writing proceeds from right to left.

Machines such as the Perkins Brailler, are, of course, disdained by true warriors who prefer the slate and (preferably very sharp) stylus.

There are two possible options for writing Braille on skin. Using a slate to guide tattoo needles, SG or EN messages can be easily pressed into the skin. Alternatively, messages can be written with short nails on pieces of wood (sharp ends up).

One need only strike
הרחפת שלי מלאה בצלופחים
— Hebrew
the recipient in passing to imprint the message. The “addressee” could either learn to “read” the message instantaneously on impact or consult the resultant patterned laceration moments later to read it visually or tactilely.

This is faster than tattooing, but less permanent as the marks will presumably heal with the passage of time. Both of these methods for writing on skin are indenting rather than embossing per se unless some contaminant is sprinkled over the wound to encourage infection.

You may wish to practice your SG by reading the following phrases:



⠠⠟⠁⠮⠞⠁⠳ ⠠⠝⠥⠟⠦

⠠⠝⠥⠟⠹⠁⠟ ⠄⠕⠳ ⠏⠥⠡⠏⠁⠄⠄⠑⠄⠦




⠳⠁⠃ ⠮⠕⠮⠇⠪⠄ ⠠⠿⠥⠡

⠳⠑⠣⠇⠥⠄⠍⠑⠳ ⠿⠁⠿ ⠚⠁⠚⠧⠁⠍

⠠⠠⠭⠪⠬⠁⠝ ⠍⠁⠳⠖

TLAs DOA? TBD!—Claude Searsplainpockets
Systematic Suppletion: An Investigation of Ksotre Case Marking—Lawrence R. Muddybanks, Ph.D.
SpecGram Vol CLII, No 2 Contents