Denseman on the Rattis

Formerly known as the Widmann Blog


Frère Jacques in Klingon

Originally uploaded by Infidelic

Years ago I translated Frère Jacques into Klingon for a linguistic party.

My translation seems to have got lost (unless one of my readers would happen to have kept a copy), so I thought I’d better redo it:

yIvem yaq yaS! yIvem yaq yaS!

bIQong’a’? bIQong’a’?

pengmey DaQoybe”a’? pengmey DaQoybe”a’?

bum! bum! bum! bum! bum! bum!

Literally, this means: Wake up, officer Yaq! Are you sleeping? Don’t you hear the torpedoes all over the place? Boom! Boom! Boom!

I think most of it should be correct Klingon, but I’m only guessing that ‘boom’ would be bum. If anybody reading this speaks Klingon more fluently than me, I’d be happy to correct any errors.

Update: Here’s the lyrics in IPA for those who are not aware of the conventions of the Klingon transliteration scheme: /jɪvɛm jɑqʰ jɑʃ – mbɪqʰoʊŋʔɑʔ – pʰɛŋmɛj ɳɖɑqχojmbɛʔːɑʔ – mbuːm mbuːm mbuːm/.

6 thoughts on “Frère Jacques in Klingon

  • Darling dearest – do you really think my nerves can take Ibsen in Esperanto and Frère Jacques in Klingon the same week??

  • Only ones that facilitate actually going on holiday or living somewhere REAL!

  • “Officer Yaq” should be {yaq yaS} not {yaS yaq}.

    ({HoD Qanqor} is an exception to this; this may be because he is from a different region than the one which provided the dialect that became today’s standard Klingon.)

    Klingon for the Galactic Traveler (p.52) says:

    “When used with an individual’s name, a title follows the name: {tlha’a HoD} (“Captain Klaa”), {cheng Sa’} (“General Chang”), {qeng la’} (“Commander Kang”), and so on.”

    The rhythm would stay the same, though, so the change shouldn’t be a problem. Though I’m not sure whether {yaS} “officer” can be used as a title (for example, {ya} “tactical officer” cannot) – perhaps a “proper” rank title should be used instead, such as {yaq Sogh} “Lieutenant Yaq”.

    Known officers’ ranks are, from highest to lowest, {‘aj} “admiral”, {Sa’} “general”, {totlh} “commodore”, {‘ech} “brigadier”, {HoD} “captain”, {la’} “commander”, {Sogh} “lieutenant”, {lagh} “ensign”, and {ne’} “yeoman”.

    There is also {ra’wI’} “commander” (which can refer to anyone holding a title of {Sogh} or higher).

    Troops have the titles {bu’} “sergeant” and {Da’} “corporal”.

    By the way, thank you for this translation! We used it in a multilingual rendition of “Frère Jacques” at the Polyglot Gathering 2015 in Berlin, where the song was sung in about 27 languages, including Klingon.

    • Thanks for your correction — I’ve updated the blog post!

      Was your multilingual rendition of Frère Jacques recorded and put on YouTube or similar, by any chance?

  • Cathryn Smith

    I got the Klingon sentence for “Are you sleeping?” last night on Duolingo. I was thinking of how to translate “Frere Jacques” into Klingon afterwards. If you guys have already done it, does that mean I can’t do it? Would it be ok if I made a different version? (Mine would probably have something about “hearing an alarm in the morning” since there aren’t bells.)


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