Pittsburgh Public Art Office Looking for Klingon, Elvish, and Dothraki Speakers


Pittsburghers perusing the “Event Gigs” listings on Craigslist recently may have come across the following headline: “OFFICE OF PUBLIC ART SEEKS KLINGON, ELVISH, OR DOTHRAKI SPEAKER.”

“You know how you started that immersive Dothraki study program a few years ago, and everyone told you that you would never use those skills in the ‘real world’?” the post asked. “Did your Elvish study group all move away, and you’re looking for an excuse to practice? Are you the tri-state area’s leading expert in Klingon linguistics? We want you!”

The listing came from the Office of Public Art, a partnership between the city and the nonprofit Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, which works to facilitate permanent and semi-permanent public art programs. It is hoping to attract attendees to November’s Wizard World convention by offering walking tours in the fantastical languages developed for Star Trek, the Middle Earth sagas of J.R.R. Tolkien, and HBO’s Game of Thrones, and learned by some dedicated members of their fan bases.

“Every time there is a new convention in town, we try to think of how we can attract that crowd,” Kahmeela Friedson, program assistant for the Office of Public Art, tells mental_floss.

The project will pair an expert from the group with a speaker of the language for some hour-long tours that will stop by such notable Pittsburgh art standbys as Cell Phone Disco, a light screen that illuminates in response to signals from nearby mobile phones, and Katz Plaza, with its eye-shaped benches and 25-foot-tall, bronze, rock-wall-like water fountain.

There might not be exact words in the languages to describe such objects, so the speakers are encouraged to freestyle a bit. “[In Klingon], there are words for ‘tractor beam’ but not a lot for art,” says Friedson.

So far, the group has received four applications, two from Klingon linguists and two from Dothraki speakers.