Star Trek Expanded Universe

Cardăsda is the sole official language of the Cardassian Union. Its status within the Union is comparable to that of Mandarin Chinese under Communist rule: While minority languages such as Kurabda continue to exist, their use is discouraged (and they are in some cases actively being extinguished). They have no official status and are referred to as mere "dialects" even though they are linguistically divergent enough to be considered languages in their own right. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions)

In the Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius universe, Cardăsda is more frequently referred to as the "common tongue" than by its official name and while it is--as the name implies--used as a Theonomy-wide lingua franca, its use has not in any way extinguished the use of local languages and dialects.

By and large, Cardăsda words and sentences tend to run longer than their Federation Standard counterparts, in part due to a certain degree of grammatical redundancy. Perhaps because Cardassian hearing is slightly weaker than that of many other humanoid races, grammatical information has a tendency to be repeated and emphasized multiple times in a word or sentence. Given this relative deficiency (in the minds of other species), however, foreigners are often taken aback by the rapid clip of Cardăsda speech, which in some accents even seems to slur the very same vowels used to convey grammatical information.

Written Cardăsda[]

The written form of the Cardăsda language

A tool employed by a people well steeped in the rhetorical arts, written Cardăsda conveys more than simply the type of sentence and the way it should be pronounced--it also gives the reader an idea of the writer's intonation and pacing, where the text to be read aloud. There are three elements to Cardăsda script: the root symbol, the transcription, and orientation.

The root symbol is the elliptical sign at the beginning of each Cardăsda sentence. Similar to the period, exclamation mark, and question mark, the root symbol denotes the type of sentence that is to follow. However, the ornate root symbol serves to convey further detail about the writer's intent: a premise or conclusion in a logical argument, clarification or negation of a previous statement, even whether what follows is an official state decree are examples of what the root symbol might convey.

The actual transcription is the part users of writing systems such as Federation Standard, Hindi, or Arabic are most likely to find familiar. While it is not yet common knowledge whether Cardăsda uses an alphabet, abjad, or abugida, this part of the system could easily be learned with a knowledge of how Earth writing systems function.

The orientation (a.k.a. diagrammation) of the text serves a dual purpose. To some extent, it functions rather like sentence diagramming. While some grammatical information is conveyed by the branching and orientation, the main purpose is to guide the reader as to how the text should be delivered if spoken aloud. Similar to musical notation, the diagrammation contains information on tone, pacing, and in a few cases, even the relative volume of one phrase versus another.

The author of Star Trek: Sigils and Unions has no intention of actually deriving an exact transcription system for the Cardăsda language, only of providing this basic conceptual overview.

In older Cardassian traditions, Cardăsda script was often written with a pen tipped with a thăv’os bone.

Phonology and transliteration[]

Native speakers of Federation Standard will find themselves at an advantage when it comes to the vowels of Cardăsda, which differ little from those they are familiar with. However, the consonants often prove more troublesome--particularly the contrast between aspirated and non-aspirated consonants, many of which have no exact Federation Standard equivalents.

Please see the article on Ilojan transliteration for detailed phonology and explanation of the two transliteration systems seen in the Star Trek: Sigils and Unions continuity.

Native Cardăsda-speakers are also likely to encounter difficulties with certain Federation Standard consonants, such as "f," "th," and "w," for which there are no Cardăsda equivalents. The other major difficulty tends to be with a number of vowel diphthongs (such as in words like "I," "out," or "toy"), which do not exist in Cardăsda.


While a consistent grammar for the Cardăsda language exists, the author of Star Trek: Sigils and Unions, Nerys Ghemor, has decided as of 7 August 2010 that no grammatical information will be made publicly available since other authors have begun to adopt existing words and phrases. Only phrases appearing in the Star Trek: Sigils and Unions and Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius stories, as shown in this article, shall be considered official Cardăsda.

Dictionary and lexicon[]

Greetings and courtesies[]

  • Kiba'avzayn.: "Good tidings." (Generic greeting acceptable for most situations)
  • Sosot mekot-ra edikouv-ra çadav edek.: "I welcome you to my table." (Formal welcome to a person of higher status.)
  • Lorhoc çadav-ra edek.: "I honor you." (Very formal greeting used for high officials. Observed in Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius; prevalence and exact use unknown in the main Star Trek: Sigils and Unions universe.)
  • Pokor malin çad.: "You do a service." (Expression of thanks, to an equal.)
  • Pakariy malinzayn ça’ada.: "You do a great service." (Expression of thanks to superiors.)
  • Brocol lerayt edek?: "Did I hear correctly?" (It is considered more polite in Cardassian society to ask for a repeat than to make assumptions about possibly misheard statements.)
  • Rhodrun: Meaning something like "aged man," this is a mark of respect for the elderly. Cardassians hold age in great reverence, so using this term is a high compliment.


  • tho: "no." Used to negate a positive statement.
  • ve': "yes." Used to affirm a positive statement.

Ve' and tho are the "simple" yes and no. A second set of words is used when dealing with negative statements, similar to the use of German "doch."

Common words[]

  • ba'ou: onomatopoeia. The sound made by a riding hound.
  • ça!: you (singular, equal, vocative case)
  • çada: you (singular, respectful subordinate-to-superior address)
  • çlaykothoul: (hated) traitor
  • çriytal: Death ritual in which the dying person passes their secrets to their chosen successor.
  • căputziyno-kofiy: Earth cappuccino. Usually pronounced "koviy" despite the spelling.
  • cirdas: man.
  • edek: I.
  • gălor (pl.: gă’ălour): world.
  • getil: a small, timid diurnal animal native to Cardassia Prime
  • ghenorev: the "under-red"--a color perceived by Cardassian eyes just below "red" on the EM spectrum, coming from the upper part of the infrared band.
  • ghevon: sail (n.)
  • hekant (pl. he'ekant): a small prey animal that is also kept by some Cardassian cultures as a pet. Similar in behavior to a rabbit.
  • kănar: alcoholic beverage--comes in many varieties that all fall under the name kănar even though they're made of different plants
    • Hăzăkda kănar: the blue variety of kănar, comes from the region of Hăzăk.
  • krilătbre-yezul: the spoon-shaped protrusion on the Cardassian forehead used to sense bioelectric fields. (Literally, "hunter-eye.")
  • lek: Cardassian unit of currency. Can be subdivided into thirtieths.
  • lect: orange
  • măgath: a large, boa constrictor-like animal.
  • Mătz Irhiy’iylakou: Day of Sorrows. Oralian religious concept similar to Terran Armageddon.
  • me: and
  • o'çad: you (singular, superior-to-subordinate address)
  • ousighukum: "Execute!" (carry out an order, superior-to-subordinate)
    • sesoghoke: "Execute!" (polite version, equal-to-equal)
  • ouvrisupum: "Energize!" (superior-to-subordinate)
  • nou: a verb-aspect marker, conveys a sense of timelessness to the action in question. Also used to indicate an act of kindness.
  • : or
  • rasgălor: Outworld. One of the more remote or recently-settled colonies of the Cardassian Union.
  • regova: a creature whose eggs are eaten by Cardassians.
  • Rhăbalbre: Councillor.
  • rhipăsbre-ciy’iyas: Sleeping-socks
  • rhirzum: an animal native to Cardassia Prime known for hissing and spraying acid.
  • ruviyal: Traditional Nevotda robe worn by men.
  • ta’cardăst: un-Cardassian. Can carry an insulting connotation depending on context, but is also acceptable neutral terminology.
  • tamorh: shadow
  • tăspar: an edible egg, usually eaten cooked, but sometimes consumed raw by the destitute
  • teliyk: an edible root found in the desert of Kurab.
  • thăv’os (pl.: thăv’ous): an animal whose bones were sometimes used in writing implements
  • vompăt (pl.: vo'ompat): a small animal kept as a pet. (Often rendered "wompat" in Federation Standard)
  • zabou (pl.: za'abou): a grazing animal native to Cardassia Prime used for food.
  • zay'oul: future
  • zerayd (pl.: ze'ered): a large avianoid animal that eats both live prey and carrion. Typically black-feathered.


  • çec: one
  • bret: two
  • dovay: three
  • kreth: four
  • ghăt: five
  • thet: six
  • rhakam: seven
  • ekou: eight
  • riloç: nine
  • căz: ten


  • Aymăcur
  • Hedorăk
  • Zroumayn
  • Ma'avoun
  • Keledăp


  • Bocot kiba’avzayn edek.: "I bring good tidings."
    • Bocot kiba’avzayn çad nou.: "You bring good tidings indeed."
  • Gorhoç edek, Gul.: "I obey, Gul."
  • Hokrol edek.: "I understand."
  • Mriytic Cardăsa!: "Cardassia will rise!"
  • Mrotoc Cardăsa!: "Cardassia is rising!"
  • Oughir’uçiym!: "Let's go!" Spoken to inferiors (pl.).
  • Oughitz’uçiym oça’ad.: "You [pl.] will follow me." Spoken to "inferiors."
  • Ousiçt’uçoum roukel!: "Get it off me!" Spoken to "inferiors."
  • Serhokt’oçekse sot’oçeks bizad oste ghengu’ulouç nou: "Let the unit that shares a drink together band together."
  • Sosotiy Cardăsa-ra Terăm-ra oça’adep de’ek.: "We welcome you all to Cardassia Prime." (Spoken to "inferiors.")
  • Tho seghanare!: "Don't shoot!" (Spoken to "equals."
  • Veçok edikouv...: "My name is..."
  • Veçok çadou...: "Your name is..."
  • Veçok de’ekou...: "Our names are..."

Letter names[]

Cardăsda letters have names, much as the Norse or Hebrew alphabets of Earth. Federation Standard alphabetical order is used for convenience. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions, A Stitch in Time))
  • çolurt
  • loubăk
  • maçliyd
  • rhăçim
  • văhar
  • thurhen

Military ranks[]

Due to the constraints of the Cardăsda language, the Star Trek: Sigils and Unions continuity uses its own ranking system for the Cardassian Guard. Please see the Cardassian ranks article for a detailed explanation.

Cardăsda place-names and other proper nouns[]

  • Cardăsa: Cardassia--may refer to Cardassia Prime or the Cardassian solar system, or to the entire Cardassian Union.
  • Gălor (pl. Gă’ălour): Galor-class cruiser
  • Hăzăk: Region of Cardassia Prime, home to the ethnic minority to which Speros, Macet, and Daro belong.
  • Hăzăkda: Person or object hailing from Hăzăk
  • Hebitda: Hebitian.
  • Hidekiy (pl.: Hide'eki): Hideki-class fighter
  • Kurab: a desert on the continent of Rivçal.
  • Kurabda: a person of the tribes of Kurab. Also, an object from Kurab.
  • Laghur: Laghur-class fast-attack vessel
  • Lakariy'ane: Lakarian City
  • Nevot: Region of Cardassia Prime known for having some of the only remaining arable farmland, home to the ethnic minority to which Va'Kust, Istep, and Broca belong.
  • Nevotda: Person or object hailing from Nevot
  • Rivçal: Divided into Upper and Lower Rivçal, the region where a majority of Cardassians seen in space come from.
  • Rivçalda: Person or object hailing from Rivçal.
  • Verkoun: The Cardassian sun.
  • Yarte'krinek: Literally, Yartek's Spark. A native name for Cardassia IV.

Other races (and related words)[]

  • Klin'ça (pl. klin'ça-çăs): Klingon (this term is a tribute to John M. Ford's novel The Final Reflection, and the game of klin zha.)
  • rhamoulda: Romulan (When transliterated capitalized, refers to the language.)
  • terhăn (pl. terhăn-çăs): Human
    • Kardiy (pl. Kardiy-çăs): Cardăsda rendering of the terhăn insult "Cardie."
    • Maciy: Maquis
    • Star’hvliyt (pl. Star’hvliyt-çăs): Starfleet
    • Terhăn Terăm: Earth (literally "Terran Prime")
    • Vedrayçda: Federation Standard
  • tsepouda: hailing from the Dominion

Interjections and curses[]

Curses are ranked mild, moderate, or severe in obscenity. Mild curses are commonly used in public, whereas moderate ones should not be used in the presence of children, elders, or others given great deference. Severe curses should be reserved only for extreme situations, as their effect approaches or equals the Federation Standard "F-bomb." As a rough guide, foreigners should keep their language at least one level of severity below what a native speaker would use.
  • ghencardăst (pl.: ghencardă’ăsthe): Sub-Cardassian (controversial status--some bandy this term about with no compunctions whatsoever, but others like Tayben Berat consider it a curse so severe it should never be spoken. Those like Gul Berat prefer the more neutral ta'cardăst.)
  • ghentregămst (pl.: ghentregă’ămsthe): Illegitimate son (moderate)
  • hăcet: chaos (mild. Acceptable in all but the most formal situations and from all ages.)
  • skrăgh: excrement (moderate. From Hăzăkda dialect rather than official Cardăsda.)
  • Yan-pret Cardăsa-çăk!: "For the love of Cardassia!" (mild)

DMZ borderworld speech[]

Longtime residents on the Federation side of the Cardassian border, as well as those in the DMZ itself, often exhibit patterns and figures of speech with a heavy Cardăsda influence. This occurs in part due to the age restrictions on universal translator use: during their formative years, children receive heavy exposure to written and spoken Cardăsda in addition to Federation Standard, and over the years this has evolved into a unique vernacular dialect.

Especially on worlds settled a long time ago, the syntax of Federation residents now favors (though does not exclusively require) the verb-first construction of Cardăsda. Cardăsda-based figures of speech are also common in these dialects. However, in many cases, DMZ and borderworld residents take any mention of the obvious similarities as a grave insult.

Crewman Mehmet Burakgazi is one example of a Federation citizen who speaks in a very pronounced borderworld dialect.

It is unknown whether this effect has occurred to a similar extent on the Cardassian side of the border, though given the standardizing effect of the rigorous Cardassian educational system, this is doubtful.

Cardassian sign language[]

While the Cardassians themselves often try to prevent the full nature of the language from becoming known to outsiders, Cardassian sign language--while sometimes influenced by Cardăsda grammar and idioms, depending on who is using it--is in fact a full language in its own right, separate from Cardăsda. (The Thirteenth Order)


The Cardăsda language was born out of the Star Trek: Sigils and Unions author's desire to disassociate her work from those using the widespread "Kardasi" language. The phonology was projected from canon names and vocabulary, with slight modifications.

External links[]

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