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Official Illinois State Department Website Offers Klingon Language Accessibility

Make It So

Know any unemployed Klingons living in Illinois? Then you should probably go tell them their lives have become considerably easier. But since they don’t have a word for “unemployed,” you might have some difficulty explaining it, so bring a phaser in case things escalate.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security began offering Klingon as one of the languages its website can be viewed in as a way of getting a bit of attention earlier this summer when Star Trek Into Darkness was arriving in theaters. They decided to keep it on afterward when they realized that the novelty of it was drawing more people to their site, which offers information on unemployment benefits, veterans’ benefits, and job searching resources. “Whenever people are drawn to our website to see the benefits that we offer, that’s a good thing,” spokesman Greg Rivara told the Chicago Tribune.

Overall, feedback about the translation option has been positive, at least among people who get the joke. The Tribune was put on to the story when a reader emailed them, irate that tax dollars were being spent on translating an entire government website into a fictional language. So the Tribune investigated, to find that the DES’ translation services one free software package, Microsoft Translator, which, as you may have guessed by now, offers Klingon. Adding the language, created by fans and creators of the Star Trek franchise, was essentially free.

Of course, the DES has just added Klingon, they don’t (“to the best of my knowledge,” Rivara equivocates) actually have any Klingon speakers to check over the automatic translation. And the Tribune notes that some words, central to the operations of the DES site, like “appeal” and “unemployment” do not have directly equivalent words in Klingon. But as this story gets passed around the larger internet, I’m sure one will make themselves available to the DES.

(The Chicago Tribune via Blastr.)

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