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Geek and Other Spelling


A bunch of geeks have chastized me for my spelling of the Klingon word “Kepla!” As one fellow wrote me — after charging me “five dork-demerits” — “If you’re trying to wish ’success’ in Klingon, it’s not ‘Kepla,’ it’s ‘Qapla’”.

Of course, others have written me to say it’s Q’pla! or Qplah and so on. Now, let’s be clear. 1. Klingon is not a real language (though it is fast becoming one). 2. All of these words are phonetic transliterations, so whatever english spelling I use for making the sound of another language are ok. 3. Shhhhhhhhh. Arguing with people about how to spell things in Klingon can get you wedgied by the football team.

But this does raise, albeit tangentially, a pet peeve of mine. Why do we have to spell or pronounce the names of other countries the way they want us to? Why can’t we still call Peking, Peking? That’s just our word for Beijing. After all, it’s not like we say “Roma” for Rome, even though that’s the way the Italians say it. Chinese restaurants now call it “Beijing Duck” on the menu. Come on!


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