Tell Scotty to Hijol!*
But be careful what you say around Mare Okrand. A Washington, D.C.-based linguist, Okrand, 43, has been a consultant on TNG and four of the six Trek movies. His is the last word on extraterrestrial expressions, since he is also the author of The Klingon Dictionary (Pocket Books, $10)—or, as it's known in Klingon bookstores, mu'ghom ("dictionary") tlhingan ("Klingon").
Klingons, as any fanatical (ngotlh) Trekker can tell you, tend to be a bit grouchy (you know, qej) and their manner brusque: There is no Klingon equivalent to "Have a nice day." But thanks to Okrand's labor of bang ("love"), first published in 1985 and recently expanded, there are now 1,500 words and 80 common (if tongue-twisting) Klingon phrases with which you can impress your friends—and zap your enemies.
Ironically, Okrand, who has a fulltime job at the National Captioning Institute, was only a sometime Star Trek gazer when a friend at Paramount helped bring his linguistic skills to the attention of a producer of 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Okrand's one-week mission: to teach Vulcans Leonard Nimoy and Kirstie Alley how to converse in Spock's native tongue. Afterward, Nimoy wadded up Okrand's text and playfully tossed it at him, saying: "Did anyone tell you you're out of your mind? You'd have to be to do this."
Illogical, Spock? Maybe not. Okrand received a screen credit for his contribution to Trek lore and thus, he boasts, "became trivia." Since concocting Klingon for Trek III in 1983, he adds, "I'm major trivia." Indeed, at Star Trek conventions, space cadets routinely try out their Klingon on the affable, unmarried Ph.D. "I don't reply because I can't understand it," Okrand confesses. Neither will most other tera'ngan ("earthlings")—and that's the beauty of it. The next time some slime devil pushes ahead of you in line, you can yell: Boch ghlchraj! ("Your nose is shiny!"). It might not get you a punch in the nose, but on Klingon, them's fightin' words!