Language can make or break relationships, finding a common tongue can do much to foster understanding and friendship, and trying to communicate across a linguistic barrier can destroy the foundation of a mutual trust before it's even had a chance to form. To that end, universal translators strive to break down those linguistic divides or at least provide a bridge across them. Occasionally the universal translator is not available — maybe you had to break yours down for parts to make a rescue beacon, you've been taken captive and it's been taken away from you, or you're under cover and those you need to blend in with are people who can tell the difference. Whatever the reason, it helps to know more than one language

Because of the universal translator, language has mostly been pushed to the fringe and the subtext within Star Trek, except when it made for interesting plot. We'd like to mostly keep it that way within our game, but because this is a collaborative writing game it helps for everyone to be on the same page about it for the times when it will be useful for the plot. Within this article you'll find information from both an in character and out of character perspective to help you in providing a consistent experience with language.

In Character and Canon Languages

Going from one Star Trek sim to another often leads to mixed thoughts on Federation Standard vs. English. Some treat the two as one and the same, others treat them as different. For simplicity sake, since this game is written in English, we're going to assume they're both the same... or at least came from a common ancestor. To that end, assume that anyone who lists English, Federation Standard, or Human as a language will all be speaking some form of the same language.

Anything language related seen within hard canon (tv series and movies), is more than welcome to be used within our sim. Particularly, Klingon has been widely used and a lot of what we've seen on screen is based upon Mark Okrand's work constructing a functional artificial language based upon the words initially made up by James Doohan, and as such all materials written or overseen by Okrand in relation to the Klingon language are considered canon for the sim. Within soft canon, numerous people have attempted to create words and languages for the various other species and cultures, and for the purposes of this sim these sources aren't recommended, but if you sprinkle the occasional word of these soft canon sourced languages into your writing, we won't quibble.

As for other languages, it is presumed that any given species will have at least one unique language, and though it's probable that there are more it is likely there is a primary dialect that was settled upon by the time the species achieved warp capability. Within the native tongue of the people, there will likely be distinct names, and the dialects and languages may or may not have overlap, but for those not familiar with the language/s and culture, referencing the language by the name of the species and/or planet of origin will be universally understood to be the primary dialect of that species or planet.

Out of Character and Stylistic Guidelines

For the use of other languages in writing, it is recommended that you avoid excessive use of non-english words — artificial and terrestrial in origin alike — simply to allow for easier reading by all players. If you do include non-english words, please make sure that you provide footnotes on your log with a translation. Even if other characters in the log may not understand it if the universal translator is not present, the reader should always be allowed to understand. It is recommended that if your characters need to speak in a language other than English for anything more than a few words to a sentence, you should instead write the dialog in English and indicate that it was spoken in the other language instead... giving the reader the ability to understand as if they had a universal translator.

Sprinkling random words of another language in your dialog can be jarring for the reader, so please use care when doing so. It's primarily only recommended to "politely" cover up profanity for our more sensitive readers (and in such cases you do not need to provide a literal translation, as a general idea of the severity and nature of the insult is sufficient), or if the character speaking would be inclined to mix languages when communicating (such as someone who is bilingual from birth). It is particularly odd to indicate that two characters are speaking to each other in a particular language, for example Romulan, then to toss a word into the dialog in that language as if the universal translator would not translate it for the audience with the rest of the conversation.


From a presentation standpoint, it's a good idea to stylistically differentiate the non-English words so that the reader will quickly recognize that they are intended to stand out. My personal preference is to use the strong tag on languages like Klingon that are forceful and use the emphasis tag on languages that are more reserved and spoken with careful consideration such as Vulcan, though context of how the word/s are being used should also factor in as to which tag is used. It is not recommended that the bold and italic tags be used for this, as the strong and emphasis tags also have cues for programs such as screen readers where the bold and italic do not.

When including footnotes with translations, please place them at the end of the log. Provided here is code to create an anchor tag that will move people down the page from your non-English text within the body of the log.

Link to footnote Footnote
<sup class="lang-tag"><a href="#1">1</a></sup> <em id="1">1 - translation</em>
Place after the non-English word or phrase to link down to the footnote, change the number for second, third, etc footnotes. Change the number to match the footnote link, and include the translation where it says translation.