Morphology of the Klingon Language in LEXC and XFST
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Hafner/Marques in May/June 2011 (Update: 2016)


Our Klingon morphology, tested with Foma -- version 0.9.14alpha -- can be used to generate and analyze Klingon verbs and nouns. As the Klingon language is an almost fully agglutinating language, the implementatiion can be done with concatenating morphology, i.e. we have affixes which we apply to given stems. Most of the implementation is done with lexc, which allows us to generate, respectively to accept words through continuation classes.

In the Klingon language there are three classes of words:

  • nouns
  • verbs
  • all the rest (according to the official Klingon Dictionary)

Most of the meaning, including syntactic information to build phrases, is encoded directly into the nouns or verbs. However, there exist some kind of particles without any special meaning, that we aren't able to recognize, because we didn't implement these words. Anyhow: those particles, taken individually, are without own semantic value.


Nouns can be things able to use language, things that are not able to use language and body parts. We use flag diacritics to implement this conditionals, what's one of the seldom uses of XFST techniques we do. What concerns the nouns we can handle nouns with the five types of suffixes available, which can, but don't have to be used. A stem without any suffixes is then the infinitive form of that noun. If the suffixes are used they have to be in a fixed order. However, it's possible to omit any type of suffixes, if the global order is preserved. We also concatenate stems to each other, such that we are able to recognize noun compounds.


Verbs are created by (optionally) attaching prefixes to verb stems and then (optionally) appending suffixes to them. There's a huge bunch of prefixes possible, which are used to indicate grammatical subject and object involved.

So no special (seperate) pronouns are used normally -- they're incorporated into the verbs.

There's a matrix, which can be found in the klingomorph.lexc file, showing the allowed combinations. For the suffixes the same applies as for the nouns. For verbs we have 9 types of suffixes, which don't have to be used, but when used have a given order. It's again possible to omit any single type, probably creating words which are not used in "nature". A particularity about verbs is that there exist special suffixes called "rovers", which can appear for only once between any of the 9 verb suffixes (i.e. at 8 positions). When such a rover suffix is used between verb suffix type 2 and 3, it changes the meaning of verb suffix type 2. The rover suffixes are e.g. used to negate those suffixes or to mark empathy. This we implemented using (genuine) Foma/XFST techniques (klingomorph.foma).

For some of the foundations we based our work on, please consult the following sites:

How to use

  $ # This is an example of a session with the exmaple files we provide:
  $ # klingoverbs-up and klingonouns-down
  $ foma -l klingolex.foma # Or use xfst if you wanna belong to the dark side.
  ! Example of verbs we can analyze; for given examples this of course also
  ! works for nouns:
  foma[1]: up < klingoverbs-up % Example of verbs we can 
  ! Example of nouns we can generate; for given examples this of course also
  ! works for verbs:
  foma[1]: down < klingonouns-down