The New Times
May 09, 2001

Elf Discovery
Glenn Gaslin

Fewer than 100 people on Earth speak the language of the Chickasaw Indians, a tribe that now inhabits a swatch of Oklahoma. Their tongue is one of harsh consonants and low, long vowels, of words such as takolo lakna okchi. Of those fluent in Chickasaw, no one is younger than 55. Decades from now, nobody will speak it anymore.

At least 100 people, and probably more, are now fluent in Klingon, the language of an alien species from a 1960s TV show. It is a dialect of inhuman sounds -- ghobchuq loDnI'pu'! -- and a predictable, easy grammar. Last year, Hamlet was translated into Klingon and published by Simon & Schuster.

Soon, a stranger, older language will make a surge into the national voice box, a smooth, lyrical tongue with ancient roots and a big Hollywood budget. It will be spoken by Cate Blanchett and Liv Tyler. It will be programmed into Playstation games and a variation will be inscribed on toy rings.

You will, if you pay attention to such things as movies, soon be hearing the language of the elves.

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