A wonderful last-minute stocking stuffer for Star Trek fans of your acquaintance is The Klingon Dictionary (Pocket Books). As all Trekker know, the Klingons are the nasty, bearded villains who give a devil of atime to Captain James Kirk and the heroes of the starship Enterprise. The new book is based on the Klingon language developed for the movie Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, which came out in the summer of 1984. This Klingon language is not the kind of ugga-mugga-wooki-wacki that natives used to talk in old Tarzan movies. It's the real fake thing, and would probably get the imprimatur of Noam Chomsky himself if he were to parse around with it.
The developer Klingon-speak is Marc Okrand, a 37-year-old resident of Adams Morgan who once worked at the Smithsonian and now labors at the National Captioning Institute in Falls Church, which does TV closed-captioning for the deaf. Okrand has a doctorate in linguistics from Berkeley and is an expert in the Costanoan languages, which were spoken by Indians of the San Francisco Monterey area in California.
Okrand started his involvement with Kirk & Co. in the movie Star Trek II. He was in Hollywood arranging closed-captioning for the Academy Awards TV show and was having lunch with a friend who was a secretary for one of the Star Trek producers. Another secretary at the lunch was charged with helping find someone to create a few sentences of Vulcan, the native language of the pointy-eared Mr. Spock, Kirk's right-hand man.
Okrand obliged, and then was entrusted with the larger Klingon project for Star Trek III. He was sent a script in advance and went to Hollywood during shooting to coach the actors in the correct pronunciation of Klingon.
''The basic sounds of Klingon were already set because someone in the first movie had spoken a few words, and I had to be consistent,' Okrand says. ''From that point on, I used bits and pieces of other languages I was acquainted with to construct the Klingon. I was working with what we call 'universals' in linguistics -- things that are common to all languages. But since it wasn't a human language, I could put in other elements, too. The one violation of universals in Klingon is that the word order is object-verb-subject -- 'Him hit I.' No earth language has that word order.''
Okrand provides an amusingly stuffy academic introduction before launching into a rather sophisticated discussion of Klingon sounds and syntax. The dictionary itself (Klingon-English and English-Klingon) covers 81 pages of word entries. Anyone who reads the whole thing will infact be getting a short course in contemporary linguistic theory.
Okrand says he allowed himself only one bit of social commentary in his explanation of the Klingon language in the introduction. It seems that whenever a Klingon emperor is replaced, he is always succeeded by an emperor who speaks a different dialect of the language. ''The new emperor's dialect,'' the introduction says, ''becomes the official dialect. Those Klingons who do not speak the official dialect are considered either stupid or subversive . . . Most Klingons try to be fluent in several dialects.''
''That's based on my experience in Washington,'' Okrand explains. Party of the Year
Houghton Mifflin threw a great party in New York recently for Frank MacShane's Into Eternity: The Life of James Jones, American Writer, a biography of the late author of From Here to Eternity and other novels. Big publishing parties these days tend to be in cavernous discos, but this was the old-fashioned kind -- in an elegant East Side townhouse, the ground thick with big-name writers. The hosts were Nan Talese, editor-in-chief of Houghton Mifflin, and her husband Gay Talese, whose own books are always publishing events. (He is currently at work on an evocation of the Italian immigrant experience in America, and has visited his father's village in Italy as part of his research.)
The bar was located at the end of the Taleses' glassed-in 40-foot-long deck (which has red-striped side panels and a bright green floor where the family sometimes plays paddle tennis). Since it was a nasty night outside, the deck was rather cold and the guests preferred to huddle in the warm and pleasant parlor rooms, sprinting out for a refill only when necessity demanded.
This bit of adventure only added to the fun, and conversation buzzed away. MacShane, who runs the writing program at Columbia University, was there of course, as well as the members of Jones' family -- James' wife Gloria, his son Jamie and daughter Kaylie, who had some news of her own. Her first novel, As Soon as It Rains, has been accepted by Doubleday and will be published in March.
Shana Alexander was at the party, and Bernard Malamud, Brock Brower, Judith Rossner, John Irving, Norman Mailer and Arthur Schlesinger jr., to name a few others. I cornered Howard Fast, whose Houghton Mifflin nove The Immigrant's Daughter recently had a nice run on the best seller lists, to inquire about his new play Citizen Tom Paine, which was a major best seller in the 1930s.
''I didn't write it from the book at all,'' Fast said. ''There's almost half-a-century between then and now. When I was writing the novel I was 23 and a revolutionary. Now I'm 71 and someone who's been a revolutionary. The play is about how a revolution destroys its makers.'' Anorexia
Anorexia Nervosa (the disease in which its victims -- predominantly young middle-class women -- limit food intake to the point of starvation) seems such a modern thing, intimately linked to the contemporary cult of slimness. Not so, says Rudolph M. Bell, professor of history at Rutgers University and author of the recently published Holy Anorexia (University of Chicago Press). Bell examines the lives of 170 holy women living in Italy from the 13th century on, and finds symptoms closely paralleling anorexia in half of them, including the famous St. Catherine of Siena, who became a kind of role model for aspiring holy women.
These women used starvation to attain holiness, says Bell, in much the same way that a victim of the disease today uses it to attain slimness. He argues, too, that they controlled food and sought holiness as a means of dealing with the patriarchal society and chruch of their time. An epilogue by Dr. William N. Davis, director of the Cornell Center for the Study of Anorexia and Bulimia draws lessons for psychotherapists from the Bell book. In the Margin
A number of regional literary newsletters have been springing up around the country, and one of the most recent is Boston Literary News, a four monthly edited by Bruce Morgan. Each leads off with a discussion of a part aspect of the city's literary life. In December issue, the focus is on writers help groups; in January the topic will beton's black writers. There is also an view with a local literary light. Expa Bostonians an others who would like to scribe can do so for $19 a year. The address is Box 1463, Cambridge, Mass. 02238. The Iowa Writers' Workshop of the University of Iowa, probably the best knwn writers program in the country, will celebrate its 50th anniversary over Memorial Day weekend (May 23-25) next year. Workshop director John Leggett is calling all former students and instructors to return for a round of readings, seminars and parties. By g Iowa City will be hopping. Former instructors of the workshop include Robert Fro, Stephen Vicncent Benet, John Crowe Ransom, Kurt Vonnegut, John Cheever, Do Grumbach, Nelson Algren and Philip Ro. Among the alumni are Flannery O'Connor, John Irving, Gail Godwin, James Al McPherson and Robert Bly.