We've all heard of The Klingon Hamlet, a real book that contains a Klingon translation of the text side-by-side with the English version. Some of us have even been . . . let's say 'lucky' enough to see it performed. But what other famous works would be better rendered in science fictional languages? We've got some suggestions.
10. The Bird Language of Krikkit Production of Hair
Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series introduced Krikkit, a world stuck in a gigantic nebula that blocked out the resident's view of the rest of the universe. When they found out that the universe was there, they were so deeply shocked that they immediately set out to destroy it. The Krikkiters themselves, though, are depicted as rather sweet, wan, reedy types that like to sing, "tuneful and reflective songs on the subjects of peace, justice, morality, culture, sport, family life and the obliteration of all other life forms." The birds are even drippier. This, I think, is a combination of the idealism and the deep, deep judgmental mentality that comes with hippie life, and perfect for the sixties musical about just wanting to hang out in the park with your friends and bother the 'squares' for fun.
9. The Nibblonian version of No Exit
This is a perfect example of form following function. Futurama's Nibblonian is a famously long language for a famously ancient race. Nibbler tells Leela, "In the time it would take you to say one syllable of my true name, a thousand ages will have come and passed." This kind of tedium is well-suited for Sartre's piece about tormented souls in hell, and is a great way to get the audience to experience that same torment.
8. The R'ylehian version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Speaking of tormented souls, this Tennessee Williams' play about a house full of miserable people all picking at each other is perfect for Cthulhu and the elder gods. There's obsession, secrets eating people up inside, mendacity, a capricious patriarch, servile heirs, and off-the-wall sensuality. I really need to hear the R'ylehian version of "Maggie the Cat is alive! I'm alive!" Plus, it would be interesting to see how one designs a negligee for a being with tentacles.
7. The City Speak version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
City Speak is the street language of the Blade Runner universe. It's described as, "A mishmash of Japanese, Spanish, German, what have you." Tom Stoppard, the writer of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, spends the entire play messing around with language. The two background characters from Hamlet are shoved to the front, and debate about euphemism, tact, and the difference between 'being not on boats' and 'not being on boats'. Translating that meaning between four or more languages would be challenging, but a real linguistic adventure.
6. The Fifth Element's Divine Language version of The Importance of Being Earnest
There are only about 400 words that the 'divine being,' Leeloo, speaks in The Fifth Element, but they run together fast and have the kind of rhythm that I think a character could use to really zing someone. Oscar Wilde's plays were all about piling on the innuendo and racing through the witty comments almost too fast for the audience to react. The crisp delivery might suffer, but I think Leeloo was probably insulting people at least some of the time, and they were too dumb to get it. So her language just might be natural Wilde material.
5. The Huttese version of Phantom of the Opera.
This would just be funny.
4. The Tonal Language from Close Encounters of the Third Kind's version of The Three Sisters
To be honest, I just want to see if Chekhov is equally depressing in musical tones as he is in words.
3. The Bog Hog Language Version of Glengarry Glen Ross.
Yet another Douglas Adams creation. The Bog Hogs live on the planet NowWhat, a miserable, swampy version of the Earth in the Hitchhiker's multiverse. The Bog Hogs communicate by biting each other very hard on the thigh. If you've seen Glengarry Glen Ross, biting would be just about the only thing that could make it more aggressive.
2. The Kryptonese Version of A Doll's House
In the DC Universe, Supergirl has been re-booted about seventeen times, each time as a way to appeal to a supposed group of comic book consumers. She's been an angel, a sexpot, an 'average teenaged girl,' and an aggressive alien being many times over. And in the eighties she's even worn a headband. If anyone is ready to dole out some feminism, identity politics, and social commentary Ibsen-style, it's her. Sing it, sister.
1. The Vogon Version of the Entire Works of William Shakespeare
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy makes its third appearance on this list. Vogons are an ugly race, inside and out. They're 'bureaucratic, officious, and callous,' have no sympathy, no imagination, and no hint of understanding of the beauty, or even the subtlety, around them. And they write poetry. They write poetry so bad it causes people to spontaneously die, or gnaw through their own ankles. They write poetry that lasts for hours. Most importantly, they write poetry that's specifically meant to torture their audience.
And that's okay. Because the last thing anyone wants is some idiot mealy-mouthing their way through Shakespeare. Sometimes a production is good. Sometimes it's bad. But when it's dealing with unquestioned genius, it has to be all or nothing. Fortune favors the bold, so what we really need is a company that will go all out on making the absolute worst production of Macbeth ever seen. Any other alien race that attempts that play needs to make the Klingons look like amateurs, and if anyone could do it, the Vogons could.