Title:        Proposal to Formally Reject Klingon for Encoding
Source:    Rick McGowan
Status:      Individual Contribution
Date:        May 18, 2001

The Unicode Technical Committee should formally reject the Klingon script for encoding.

The latest document is:
which is dated September 1997, and has not moved since then.

In the Pipeline table the script is listed as "under investigation".

Why should we reject Klingon? There are many reasons.

The script is not actually used in earnest by any community at all, even those who study the Klingon language. Nor is there an historical literature written in it. The proposal gives no published examples at all. Two other "fantasy" scripts in the pipeline, Cirth and Tengwar, are at least slightly attested outside their original venue of publication; Klingon is apparently not. To quote Nick Nicholas (2001/02/26):

The most the KLI has published in pIqaD (Klingon script) is T-shirts. :-)

An encoding is not actively being pursued by any organized community, nor has the KLI (Klingon Language Institute) evinced any interest in standardization.

Nobody has ever answered the questions of whether or not any copyright issues are involved in something that is, and was invented to be, one element of a Hollywood set design.

Klingon can also be considered a mere "font-variant" rather like a cipher on the Latin script, and it is apparently not even a standardized or consistent orthography! Quoting Nick Nicholas (2001/02/26):

the alphabetic mapping is fan-based (leaked from Paramount, the story goes); Okuda, who does set design for the show, does not want any mapping between glyphs and anything, and Okrand doubts the Klingons would use an alphabetic script anyway. There have been some trading cards with Klingon script and romanised Klingon; the Klingon script used there is utterly random. And those with keen eyesight and good VCRs have noted some discrepancies between Okuda's glyph repertoire and the KLI's.

Keeping Klingon on the books as "under investigation" leaves both UTC and WG2 open to allegations of frivolity -- see various quotes below. Every time the discussion comes up, this is pointed out. Leaving it "on the books" is a source of embarrassment requiring continual renewal of explanation as to why it is even under investigation.

Other scripts and symbols have been formally rejected. The pipeline table has many of them. This is one more that should just be rejected.

I am requesting that Klingon be moved from this status:

        N/A - Klingon "Under investigation" N/A

to this one:

        N/A - Klingon "01-May-21 Rejected" N/A

An entry in the FAQ should also be made so that we can point to it when the question of Klingon returns on the mail lists, as it doubtless will.

To quote G. Adam Stanislav:

>It's silly to even consider Klingon for Unicode or 10646.

Nah, it's not silly. It's offensive.

I find it offensive that Klingon is more important to Unicode Consortium than a human language. The way I see it, as long as the proposal is not rejected, it is still being seriously considered. For the record, the active status of the Klingon alphabet is *the* reason why I stopped any work on any Unicode software, [...]

To quote John O'Connor:

Knowing that the proposal has been placed on the back burner, knowing that it isn't really taken seriously any longer, in the true spirit of a Klingon, let us now kill the proposal and thus leave it some dignity among its supporters. Dragging it around in its weakened state, knowing that it will not recover, is not honorable. It is disgraceful. Some Klingon next-of-kin should step forward here...encourage the consortium to let the proposal die with honor, with dignity. It's the Klingon way... 

    Appealing to Klingon ethics and sentiment,

Below I also quote John O'Connor's analysis from last February in its entirety.

From: John O'Conner Date: 2001-02-26 11:56:43 -0800 
To: Unicode List Subject: Klingon silliness
X-UML-Sequence: 18392 (2001-02-26 19:22:51 GMT)

That anyone could seriously consider adding the Klingon script to Unicode seems preposterous. Even if someone were to provide an "accurate" script, a sample font, etc that meets the general requirements of a proposal, the idea is quite silly. I am surprised that the consortium hasn't simply refused it with a polite suggestion to use the private use areas for those Klingon speakers/readers/writers out there.

What is the rationale for allowing this proposal to see the light of another day? 1) Certainly there can't be any political influence...a Klingon govt doesn't exist. No Klingon has ever existed. Oops, I hope I haven't accidentally done the equivalent of telling U.S. children that the Easter Bunny doesn't exist. 2) Is there an economic influence? How much money can the people at www.klingon.org throw at this? Will the Unicode consortium benefit? Will any reasonable number of people benefit financially from this? Will font makers make any revenue from a Klingon font? Will book publishers? 3) Does a set of historical documents exist? How can there be? It's fictional. Historical documents cannot exist if there is no history. Documents that purport to be such are fictional entertainment at best. There is no historical benefit of encoding the script. 4) Is there an academic benefit? What university or college has a Klingon language, art, or history dept? Oh no! What have I found? http://babel.uoregon.edu/yamada/guides/klingon.html 5) Is there a cultural benefit? O brother... 6) I can't even believe I'm trying to produce a rationale against this...I've got to stop.

No practical reason for encoding this script exists. It's silliness. Including it in the Unicode repertoire is like embedding "Easter Eggs" into software products. Yes, people will find it, see it; some will smile at it, maybe laugh; promoters will elbow each other and point out their contribution; others will wonder why anyone wasted their time.

Put me in the last category,

John O'Conner