DuoLingo is the most popular language learning tool on the planet. The platform boasts over 200 million users and breaks up language into bite-sized daily lessons. The app offered 27 courses for English speakers – until this week. DuoLingo’s 28th course is its first fictional language, Klingon.
Klingon’s Rise to Popularity
Star Trek is responsible for numerous contributions to society. It pushed the boundaries of science fiction storytelling and tackled social issues head-on. Heck, even early cell phones were based on the communicators found on Star Trek. But. the strangest of these contributions is Klingon.
Klingon is the fictional language spoken by the forehead-ridged Klingon race. It certainly isn’t the first fictional language, but it has a large number of devotees. Four classic works of literature received Klingon translations, and there are conventions, classes, and books designed to teach folks how to speak the language.
As a language, Klingon is unwieldy. Most of its phrases rely on metaphors about spacecraft and war. Furthermore, the Klingons are not experts in eloquence or nuance. As such, very few people are “fluent” in the language, and it is certainly not spoken in day-to-day conversation.
On the other hand, a lot of work went into drafting the language and its vocabulary. It is a direct reflection of its native speakers and fleshes them out as characters. The best fictional languages are capable of this. Elvish is an elegant language. Dothraki is primitive and elevated at the same time.
The learning of a fictional language presents no real benefit in daily living. However, it develops the same skills associated with language learning. So, for many, learning a language from a pop culture touchstone can pave the way to a new language that looks good on a resume or in a job interview. Here’s hoping Klingon is just the beginning of the fictional languages offered by DuoLingo!