Friday, 12 May 2017

/fɪʃ/ or inter-galactic phonetic alphabet

Upon learning that the Klingon word for love is bang (in the sense of a closing salutation as in with affection, whilst the act itself is muSh) whilst listening to back episodes of The Greatest Generation podcast reminded me of another linguistic Easter egg cobbled into the constructed alien language: ghoti.
I’m sure that the standard received Klingon pronunciation of ghotI’ holds but the term, which was also incarnated as a Christian punk band in the 1990s called Ghoti Hook, has its origins in an 1855 correspondence between a publisher and an essayist sharing the frustrations of the irregularities of the English language. Sounding out the gh as in enough, the o as in women and the ti as in motion, one gets fish. The Klingon word for fish has been used, rather unfairly it seems, to calibrate speech synthesisers, and we wonder how the Universal Translator would tackle this recursive case.