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This article describes all that is known about the language of the Kilrathi.

Terrans can study and speak Kilrathi, although it can be "throat-hurting"[1] and some, like Abram sounded "strange, lisping and high-pitched", compared to a normal Kilrathi voice.[2]


Kilrathi writing.jpg

The Kilrathi writing remained unintelligible by Terran Confederation specialits. It is believed that their writing is ideographic, each symbol conveying a concept, with dots marking variations on a symbol.[3]


The court used a ceremonial dialect. Sharp, clear enunciation indicates good breeding. Sometmes it could be seen as a subtle insult against the Emperor, as the Imperial clan was relatively young.[4] Not everyone could understand the dialect of the Imperial Court, so nobles sometimes used it in order to to not be understood by outsiders.[2]

Imperial standard, mixed with English standard, formed a pidgin dialect of space, the language of trade in the frontier, spoken in places such as Gar's Emporium.[5]

Tonal inflections[]

  • Soft tonal inflection for speaking to one's relative (i.e. of his own clan).[4]
  • Inflection which suggests a direct statement of fact, is equivalent of blood challenge between an inferior and superior.[4]


  • Toothy grin show lack of fear and humans introduce this way to Kilrathi.[5]
  • The same, but with open jaw, is a signal for a fight.[5]
  • Tail curled down is a gesture of respect and submission (eg. before the Prince).[6]
  • Raising of the head to bare the throat is a ceremonial gesture as acknowledgment of respect (eg. meeting an elder officer).[7]
  • Whiskers lifted and eyes narrowed is an expression of pleasure.[1]
  • Gurgling sound is a laughter.[1]
  • Head hunched down is the equivalent of a shrug.[8]
  • Tail lashing from side to side is a sign of agitation.[8]


Arakh leaves (or simply Arakh)
A popular intoxicant, often used to make tea. Kilrathi catnip.[9]
Any predator considered a threat to the Kilrathi.[7]
Type of tree featuring large, red, sweet-scented flowers; found on the planet Ghorah Khar.[6]
frail, hairy creature native to Kilrah.
Rare warriors of equal rank who deserved honorable execution upon capture rather than slavery. The Varni were almost worthy of being considered chakta.[10]
striking bird[13]

Eternal damnation. Cat Hell.[14]

interrogation by torture.[6]
the trick of sending a lone warrior out to feign injury and draw the prey in, which in the meantime is being encircled[4]
something inedible, perhaps specifically food for prey-species, such as plants and roots.[1]
A Kilrathi clan, that is families sworn allegiance to a clan leader.[15] Includes all blood relatives as well as anyone oathsworn to the clan leader and his descendants.
Ikgara Kutgaga
Sacred history of the clans.[2]
to spring from concealment upon a larger but unsuspecting prey, killing it with one blow. This word derives from their predatory past, but the concept has been magnified in the wider scale of imperial politics.[4][2]
ceremonial herbal brew.[2]
Heroic death.
Warrior spirit.[2]
A rank or title for a Commanding officer roughly.[16][6]
Roughly equivalent to Admiral.
Interrogation by torture, not used on highranking Kilrathi except by order of the Emperor.
Kal Shintahr
Roughly equivalent to captain or commander.
Commanding officer of a Kilrathi ship.
A common, lowborn Kilrathi. In appearance, he or she is characterized by coarse fur of mingled colors, a blunt muzzle, a flat head and blunted teeth.[6]
Perhaps "Son(s) of Kilrah" (as the Kilrathi call themselves like this[17])
honorific given to the offspring of those who committed tagugar.[7]
ancient curse to begin a blood duel.
A type of sword.[18]
interrogation (possibly)
Interrogation by drugs, not used on high-ranking Kilrathi except by order of the Emperor.[6]
The planet Earth.
Used in full Kilrathi names followed by a clan name. Part of every Kilrathi’s name. It precedes the name of the planet on which the Kilrathi’s hrai (clan) originated. (Ralgha nar Hhallas’ hrai, for example, was from Hhallas.) Appears to be equivalent of "of". Not quite a 'surname' as all members of a house share the titles.
Pawns for power.
The equivalent of the herds of semi-intelligent animals of Kilrah, a very easy prey[4]
Dried and salted food eaten by Kilrathi.[19]
Heretic to the principles of the Kilrathi Honor code.[20]
One who is already dead to his hrai, even though he lives. It refers to disgracing one’s family name, usually when one appears weak or is captured.
celebratory drink.
Will to die for glory to Kilrah.
Hidden striker
type of flies native to Kilrah.
Brothers of equal rank.
Honorable suicide (similar to a kamikaze action), a kind of suicide attack.[7]
Noble lord, head of a hrai. Highborn Kilrathi are characterized by sleek, brightly-colored pelts marked with the distinctive patterns of their clan.[6]
Person who displays hesitation or weakness.
A celebration, perhaps of the founding of the Empire of Kilrah.[7]
prey-food; any weak aliens the Kilrathi considered conquering.[7]
A tree native to Kilrah.[2]
To be late, there is little toleration for the act or the utterance of that word. Such disrespect leads to the death penalty.[21]
vorshooka (plural vorshaki);
a blade, the ritual instrument for cub-bearing and murder.[22]
Fresh blood of an prey species of Kilrah the Kilrathi used to hunt, now used as a beverage.[7]
Ritual suicide in atonement for an act of shame to one’s family, or having disgraced a superior; comparable to sepukku.[15]


Va ka garga ka naru ha garga
Those not of the blood must have their blood spilt[4]
Ek’rah skabak erg Thrak’Kilrah maks Rag’nith.
For the glory of Kilrah, the Emperor and the Empire.
Huma ta humas
An ancient saying in the royal tongue meaning "this for that", relative to "quid pro quo".[2]
Krajksh nai variksh h'hassrai?
Said by a Kilrathi pilot to Hunter flying a Dralthi.[23]
Kilrath'ra rakh, walhi drathrik... Hrashra ni'lakh rakhta... Fralkra himekh...[24][25]
"His blood flows well?"
"His blood is thick"
Standard ceremonial question regarding the health of a friend.[2]

External links[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 9
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 William R. Forstchen, Action Stations, ch. 5
  3. Chris McCubbin, Official Authorized Wing Commander Confederation Handbook, History of the Terran-Kilrathi War
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 William R. Forstchen, Action Stations, ch. 1
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 William R. Forstchen, Action Stations, ch. 8
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 1
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 William R. Forstchen, Action Stations, Chapter 4
  8. 8.0 8.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named fr10
  9. WC Movie, novel, pg
  10. William R. Forstchen, Action Stations, ch. 7
  11. Claw Marks (Wing Commander I box package), Pilot Profiles
  12. Wing Commander I, Chengdu series (Mission 2)
  13. Chris McCubbin, Official Authorized Wing Commander Confederation Handbook, Kilrathi Tactics Document C776b-12
  14. Pilgrim Stars
  15. 15.0 15.1 Price of Victory
  16. Freedom flight
  17. Template:Wc
  18. Pilgrim stars
  19. Pilgrim Truth, pg
  20. Pilgrim Truth, pg
  21. Pilgrim Truth, pg
  22. WC Movie NOvel
  23. Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 6
  24. Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Niven series (Mission 2)
  25. Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi, Ghorah Khar series (Mission L3)