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Klingon as linguistic capital

Author: Yens Wahlgren. Bachelors thesis in Sociology. Lund university, Sweden.

The Klingon language was created as a "verbal movie-prop" for Star Trek and was not supposed to be a language for human communication. But today thousands of persons have studied Klingon and 20 - 30 persons can be considered fluent in the language. A linguistic field of power, a linguistic market, has been formed. The purpose of this thesis is to research how the Klingon language speakers have experienced the development of the artificial language Klingon during its 20 years of existence. I will also examine the informants' opinion towards Star Trek fandom. The method used is qualitative; I have interviewed Dr Marc Okrand, creator of the Klingon language, and Dr Lawrence M. Schoen, founder of the Klingon Language Institute (KLI). I have also conducted an Internet interview with 17 advanced Klingonists. As a theoretical framework I use Bourdieu's theory on symbolic capital, Berger's & Luckmann's discussion on secondary socialization and Ferguson categories of Language development. For Klingon the process of language development is a social process. It is an ongoing dialectic exchange between Marc Okrand and the Klingonists. The KLI acts as a socializing institution and plays an important role for the standardization of the language together with Klingonists with high linguistic capital. Star Trek is becoming less important for the development of Klingon as only a minority of the Klingonists consider themselves as trekkers and by the modernization of Klingon that gives the language more vocabulary not related to Star Trek concepts.

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