If You're Outside the US, You Can Watch Star Trek: Discovery in Klingon (Sort of)

Image: CBS/Netflix

Unlike their past TV iterations, the Klingons of Star Trek: Discovery don’t predominately communicate in English. They speak in Klingon, naturally, which is subtitled for us human audiences. But was that not enough Klingon for your discerning taste? If you’re outside the US, you can experience the premiere all over again in the alien language.

Being based in the UK, I’m lucky enough to be able to catch Star Trek: Discovery through Netflix, rather than having to subscribe to CBS’s proprietary service All Access. But while watching the new premiere of Discovery, I noticed an additional benefit on top of the convenience: alongside the more traditional subtitle offerings of Arabic, English, French, and Polish, you could select Klingon subtitles, rendering the show’s dialogue entirely in the fictional language developed decades ago by Dr. Marc Okrand.

This line from early in episode 1 is “The map says the well’s this way, captain,” but the dialogue translates as “jin is the source of the water, the captain told us.” Points for trying?

The subtitles translate all spoken English dialogue into Klingon, and after putting a few sentences through a Klingon-English translator, they’re fairly accurate... in so much as a complete translation of a weird, incomplete fictional language with many odd grammatical rules can be accurate, that is. It’s close enough in most regards to churn out a broken version of what’s actually being said through what we already know of Klingon from various sources—which has presumably been expanded by Discovery’s production team with translations that won’t be available online—which is pretty impressive.

Perhaps more help for those of us that aren’t scholars of the Klingon language is that the subtitle option also chooses to present the phonetic spelling of the lines spoken by the Klingons themselves in the episode, instead of translating them. That way you can brush up on your own pronunciation.

You have not experienced Klingons until you have read them in the original, err, Klingon.

Sadly, it seems this cool feature is not available on CBS All Access, which only provides English subtitles. We’ve reached out to CBS to see if it will be bringing Klingon subtitles to Discovery’s future episodes and will update this post if we hear back.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

About the author

James Whitbrook

James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!