A Quick Reference to Colors in Klingon
In November 2010, with the release of Talk Now! Eurotalk Klingon, we got a whole bunch of new words and expression, and with them quite a few new expressions concerning colours. These new expressions have been included below.
Let’s begin with this color cheat sheet by Roger Cheesbro:
There is no noun in Klingon meaning “color”, but there is a verb nguv which means be dyed, stained, tinted. This word is seldom used without the suffix -moH (as in quS nguvmoH He stains the chair) except in the phrase chay’ nguv How is it tinted? (The usual way of asking what color something is.) [KGT p.82]
|nguv||be dyed, be stained, be tinted (v)||[KGT]|
There are only four distinct words for different colors (including qIj black and chIS white) in Klingon. These, for the most part, are all that is used in everyday language – there is rarely any need for more, since there are almost always other ways than hue to distinguish between objects.
|Doq||be orange, be red (v)||[TKD]|
|SuD||be green, be blue, be yellow (v)||[TKD]|
|chIS||be white (v)||[TKD]|
|qIj||be black (v)||[TKD]|
|Hurgh||be dark (v)||[TKD]|
|wov||be light, be bright (v)||[TKD]
One way of being more specific is to use the -qu’ emphatic suffix, this has the advantage that the word still can be used adjectivally (as in for example HIq Doqqu’ red liquor) this can not be done with the other lengthier methods of describing colors.
|Doqqu’||“a color more red than orange” (v)||[KGT p.82]|
|SuDqu’||“would probably be described as ‘green’” (v)||[KGT p.82]
One may also use the words for light and dark to describe colors in whole sentences (such as SuD ’ej wov for it is SuD and light – ’ach but is also heard instead of ’ej). To describe yellow tea, a sentence like SuDbogh Dargh ’ej wovbogh The tea that is SuD and light would be used.
|SuD ’ej wov or SuD ’ach wov||“a yellowish tinge”||[KGT p.82]|
|SuD ’ej wov or SuD ’ach wov||light blue||[Eurotalk]|
|Doq ’ej wovbe’||brown||[HQ8:1 p.7; Eurotalk]|
|Doq ’ej wov or Doq ’ach wov||light red or orange||NON-CANON|
|SuD ’ej Hurgh or SuD ’ach Hurgh||dark blue||[Eurotalk]|
|Doq ’ej Hurgh or Doq ’ach Hurgh||brown or brownish||NON-CANON|
|Doqqu’ ’ej wov or Doqqu’ ’ach wov||pink||[Eurotalk]|
|SuDqu’ ’ej wov or SuDqu’ ’ach wov||light green||NON-CANON|
|SuDqu’ ’ej Hurgh or SuDqu’ ’ach Hurgh||dark green||NON-CANON|
|Doqqu’ ’ej Hurgh or Doqqu’ ’ach Hurgh||dark red||NON-CANON|
|qIj ’ej wov or qIj ’ach wov||gray||[Eurotalk]
The color violet, or purple, is not actually a Klingon color. Klingon for the Galactic Traveler has the following to say on the subject: “The fact that neither SuD nor Doq includes what is called ‘violet’ or ‘purple’ in Federation Standard may be related to Klingon physiology—that is, exactly how the Klingon eye processes different wavelengths of light.” [KGT pp.82–83]
Irregardless of this, the color purple was still included in the Eurotalk language course (which had a decidedly Earth-centric view, e.g. including names of several Terran countries for example):
|Doq ’ej SuD||violet or purple||Eurotalk
Generally, when one needs to be more specific, the item in question is compared to something else that typically has this color. Here is a table of such expressions given to us in canon.
|Doq ’ej beqpuj rur||be Doq and resemble bekpuj
(a common mineral that is bright orange)
|Doq ’ej Qaj wuS rur||be Doq and resemble kradge lips
(lips of the kradge are a particular shade of brown)
If you want to know more about how colors are expressed in different languages, and how this relate to Klingon, read the article “Klingon Colours” by Nick Nicholas, published in Klingon Language Institute’s quarterly journal HolQeD 5:2 (). The further explanation of the color brown can also be found in HolQeD 8:1 () in an article called “Maltz Online”.
HolQeD may be purchased from The Klingon Language Institute.