Klingons are a race of nasty aliens in the original Star Trek science fiction TV program. They became good aliens by the time of Star Trek: The Next Generation, with Lieutenant Worf being one of that series’ standout characters.

William Shatner wasn’t the only Canadian actor to grace the original Star Trek. This memorable Klingon was played by John Colicos of Toronto.

The fact that the Klingons’ physical appearance changed quite dramatically over time was explained in 2005 via the literary device of ‘retroactive continuity.’¹

In 2002, the Oxford English Dictionary included the word Klingon (along with Jedi from Star Wars) in its unabridged and Shorter dictionaries. The following definition is from the OED:

A member of a fictional humanoid alien race featuring in the U.S. television series Star Trek and in subsequent associated series, films, publications, etc.

The OED also rightly points out that Klingon has another meaning, that of an actual language, created for the film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) by Dr. Marc Okrand.

Although not in common use, the Klingon language is learned and spoken by die-hard Star Trek fans, known as Trekkies. Learning is facilitated via instructional audio tapes such as “Conversational Klingon.”

A photo of some Trekkies via Grinnell College

Except for the most backward and myopic of academics, almost everyone around the world now realizes that Star Trek can be viewed as a bona fide, indeed quite complete mythology all its own. Some even say it is like a religion.

¹ “A canonical explanation for the change was given in a two-part storyline on Star Trek: Enterprise. The two episodes, “Affliction” and “Divergence“, aired in February 2005.” (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klingon#Explanation_and_theories).

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