Zoe Saldana Reveals Which Language Is Easier: Klingon Or Avatar Na’vi

Star Trek and Avatar star Zoe Saldana is uniquely qualified to say that speaking Na'vi is easier than talking in Klingon.

By Phillip Moyer | Published

zoe saldana star trek 4

Which is the more difficult alien language, Na’vi or Klingon? Avatar: The Way of Water star Zoe Saldana didn’t hesitate to give a definitive answer when speaking to Moovy TV about the newly-released sequel to the top-grossing movie of all time. According to Saldana, Klingon is by far the more-difficult language. However, while she admits that speaking Klingon was very challenging, she said that speaking the fictional language was still a lot of fun for her.

Zoe Saldana is in a unique position to answer this extremely-geeky question. She has played Neytiri in both Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water, during which she almost exclusively speaks the native language of her character’s blue-skinned people. She has also played communications officer Uhura in the 2009 Star Trek reboot and its two sequels. In the first sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, Saldana had to speak Klingon when confronting a Klingon patrol on the species’ homeworld.

Zoe Saldana went on to explain why, exactly, she had a harder time with Klingon than with Na’vi. One of the main issues she had with the Klingon language was the fact that she had a shorter timeframe to learn how to speak it. While filming Avatar, she said, the cast had months to practice the Na’vi language, helping all the cast members learn to speak it properly. Meanwhile, the cast of Star Trek: Into Darkness was not given much time to master the language before they were expected to speak it on-set.

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Zoe Saldana in Avatar

There was another, subtler element that made Na’vi easier to learn. According to Avatar co-star Sam Worthington, who joined Zoe Saldana in the interview, the crew of Avatar was willing to adjust the Na’vi language if the characters had difficulty pronouncing certain words properly. For example, Worthington mentioned that actors who had difficulty rolling their R’s wouldn’t have to worry, because the Avatar crew would just change the word so that it didn’t require a rolled R. Meanwhile, Zoe Saldana said, no such allowances were made when speaking Klingon. 

The fact that Star Trek actors aren’t allowed to change the Klingon language is hardly surprising, given the deep history of Klingon in the series. The constructed alien language has been well-known to Star Trek fans since it was first heard in Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979. Modern fans can even practice the language on the Duolingo language-learning app. In short, if Zoe Saldana had spoken Klingon differently than was canon, fans would notice. 

Zoe Saldana is something of a hot commodity in the world of science fiction. In fact, Star Trek and Avatar aren’t the only popular sci-fi series in which she plays a major role. Saldana also plays the role of Gamora, the adopted daughter of Thanos who abandons her villainous stepfather with the goal of ultimately destroying him. Saldana’s character plays a major role in all the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, with the exception of The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. Gamora has also appeared in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame

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