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The 9 Best Parts of a Legal Brief on Behalf of Klingon Speakers

If someone invents a language and people start to use it, who owns it? Last year Paramount and CBS filed a lawsuit against a production company preparing to make a crowdfunded Star Trek fan film called Axanar, claiming copyright on various elements of the franchise universe, including the Klingon language. According to The Hollywood Reporter,

“After the Star Trek rights holders filed their complaint, the defendant production company demanded of the franchise's copyrighted elements. In response, Paramount and CBS listed a lot, but what drew most attention was claimed entitlement to the Klingon language. The defendant then reached back to a 19th century Supreme Court opinion for the proposition that Klingon is not copyrightable as a useful system.”

The plaintiffs responded with a huff of disdain, claiming “this argument is absurd since a language is only useful if it can be used to communicate with people, and there are no Klingons with whom to communicate."

They should have known better than to mess with the Klingons. Do they not already know that a Klingon warrior never backs down from a direct challenge? Of course, there are no actual Klingons, but there are indeed actual Klingon speakers, and the Language Creation Society got a lawyer to draft an amicus brief laying out the 100 percent serious and completely valid arguments for denying any copyright claims on the Klingon language. Here are nine of the best things about it.

1. THEY CITE PRECEDENTS.

For example, in Arica Inst., Inc. v. Palmer, 970 F.2d 1067, 1075 (2d Cir. 1992) it was ruled that “author who disavowed inventing enneagrams publicly cannot claim invention inconsistently to improve a litigation position.” Since the conceit of the original Klingon dictionary was that information about language came from an actual Klingon prisoner named Maltz, how can they now turn around and deny that statement to improve their case against these filmmakers?

2. THEY STRATEGICALLY BRANDISH KLINGON PROVERBS TO MAKE THEIR POINTS.

For example, a section describing how a community of users have for years been studying, conversing, and creating in Klingon ends this way: “as the Klingon proverb says, wa' Dol nIvDaq matay'DI' maQap. ('We succeed together in a greater whole.')”

3. THEY INSULT THE PLAINTIFFS IN APPROPRIATE STAR TREK TERMS.

After explaining how after decades of being able to use the language for various purposes—sometimes with explicit licensing agreements—the community didn’t think copyright would be suddenly asserted one day, the brief reads, “It would not take a Vulcan to explain their logic—even the Pakleds would know that nobody can 'own' a language.”

4. THEY WARN PARAMOUNT OF THE FUTILITY OF THEIR MOTION IN KLINGON TERMS.

If they wish to go ahead with the claim of infringement, “by opening this door, Plaintiffs will learn rut neH 'oH vIta'Qo' Qob law' yu' jang. ('Sometimes the only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer.')”

5. BECAUSE KLINGON LACKS A WORD FOR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, THEY COIN ONE.

It’s yab bang chu, or “mind property law.” The very fact that they can do this helps make the case that Klingon is an algorithm, or system of creation, and thus cannot be copyrighted.

6. THEY QUOTE THE DUDE IN KLINGON.

To emphasize a point about how a claim of exclusive ownership would destroy “an entire body of thought,” they turn to The Dude from The Big Lebowski, saying not Qam ghu'vam, loD! (“This will not stand, man!”)

7. THEY LIST THE MANY WAYS IN WHICH PEOPLE DO USE KLINGON.

With exhibits for proof:

Plaintiffs attempt to downplay the significance of their claim of ownership over the Klingon language by arguing that “a language is only useful if it can be used to communicate with people, and there are no Klingons with whom to communicate.” (ECF 31 at 16.) First, this is a non-sequitur; a process or system need not be “useful” in order to preclude copyright protection, and Plaintiffs provide no authority to the contrary.

But more importantly, this is an insulting assertion. Many humans speak Klingon. The annual qep’a’ involves singing and storytelling in Klingon. (See Exhibit 6.) People get married in Klingon. (See Exhibit 10.) Linguist d’Armond Speers even spent three years teaching his infant son to speak Klingon. (See Tara Bannow, “Local company creates Klingon dictionary,” MINNESOTA DAILY (Nov. 17, 2009), attached as Exhibit 12.)

8. THEY ILLUSTRATE THE UNIQUE GRAMMATICAL STRUCTURE OF THE LANGUAGE WITH A SESAME STREET SONG.

You see the difference between English and Klingon if note that “Sunny day, chasing the clouds away” translates to “Day of the daytime star, the clouds are filled with dread and forced to flee.”

9. THEY DROP THE MIC IN KLINGON.

The brief ends with the word Qapla’, which means "success" in English.

The brief was drafted by Marc Randazza. You can read the whole thing here.

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Here's the Right Way to Pronounce Kitchenware Brand Le Creuset

If you were never quite sure how to pronounce the name of beloved French kitchenware brand Le Creuset, don't fret: For the longest time, southern chef, author, and PBS personality Vivian Howard wasn't sure either.

In this video from Le Creuset, shared by Food & Wine, Howard prepares to sear some meat in her bright orange Le Creuset pot and explains, "For the longest time I had such a crush on them but I could never verbalize it because I didn’t know how to say it and I was so afraid of sounding like a big old redneck." Listen closely as she demonstrates the official, Le Creuset-endorsed pronunciation at 0:51.

Le Creuset is known for its colorful, cast-iron cookware, which is revered by pro chefs and home cooks everywhere. The company first introduced their durable pots to the world in 1925. Especially popular are their Dutch ovens, which are thick cast-iron pots that have been around since the 18th century and are used for slow-cooking dishes like roasts, stews, and casseroles.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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Wikimedia Commons// Public Domain
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25 Great Insults From 18th Century British Slang
Francis Grose
Francis Grose
Wikimedia Commons// Public Domain

For history buffs with a personal score to settle, "You jerk" just doesn't have the same ring as "You unlicked cub," an insult from Georgian England. And there's more where that came from if you browse through English lexicographer Francis Grose's A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, first published in 1785 and recently spotted by the Public Domain Review. The anthology is filled with slang words and terms of the kind dictionary scribe Samuel Johnson had previously deemed unfit for his influential A Dictionary of the English Language (1755). Below are some of the tome's most hilarious, vivid, and archaic insults, arranged in alphabetical order for your put-down pleasure. (And if you need more inspiration, here's some Victorian slang for good measure.)

1. ADDLE PATE

"An inconsiderate foolish fellow."

2. BEARD SPLITTER

“A man much given to wenching,” or consorting with prostitutes.

3. A BLOWSE, OR BLOWSABELLA

An unkempt woman. "A woman whose hair is dishevelled, and hanging about her face; a slattern."

4. BLUNDERBUSS

“A stupid, blundering fellow.”

5. BOB TAIL

“A lewd woman, or one that plays with her tail; also an impotent man, or an eunich.”

6. BULL CALF

"A great hulkey or clumsy fellow."

7. CORNY-FACED

"A very red pimpled face."

8. DEATH'S HEAD UPON A MOP-STICK

“A poor, miserable, emaciated fellow."

9. DUKE OF LIMBS

“A tall, awkward, ill-made fellow.”

10. FUSSOCK

"A lazy fat woman … a frowzy old woman."

11. GOLLUMPUS

"A large, clumsy fellow."

12. GUNDIGUTS

"A fat, pursy fellow."

13. HANG IN CHAINS

"A vile, desperate fellow.”

14. HEDGE WHORE

An itinerant prostitute, "who bilks the bagnios and bawdy houses, by disposing of her favours on the way side, under a hedge; a low beggarly prostitute.”

15. JACKANAPES

"An ape; a pert, ugly, little fellow."

16. JUST-ASS

"A punning appellation for a justice," or a punny name for a judge.

17. LOBCOCK

“A large relaxed penis, also a dull inanimate fellow.”

18. PUFF GUTS

"A fat man."

19. SCRUB

"A low mean fellow, employed in all sorts of dirty work."

20. SHABBAROON

"An ill-dressed shabby fellow; also a mean-spirited person."

21. SHAG-BAG

"A poor sneaking fellow, a man of no spirit."

22. SQUIRE OF ALSATIA

"A weak profligate spendthrift."

23. TATTERDEMALLION

“A ragged fellow, whose clothes hang all in tatters.”

24. THINGUMBOB

"A vulgar address or nomination to any person whose name is unknown ... Thingum-bobs, testicles."

25. UNLICKED CUB

“A rude uncouth young fellow.”

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