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Pakuni on the Big Screen

Posted on Sunday, June 7, 2009 in Film

With the release of the new Land of the Lost, based (loosely) on the original children’s TV series from the early 1970s, I’ve been reminded of one of my early conlang influences: Pakuni. While I haven’t seen the movie (yet), I was heartened by this article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Here is an excerpt highlighting “Pakuni”:

Sticklers for detail, the Kroftts hired a UCLA linguist to create a language for Chaka and his kin. It’s called Pakuni, and it was spoken on TV. Taccone learned the 300-odd words and speaks them, although the script calls for him to only grunt or jibber.
[Anna] Friel [who plays Holly] translates what he is saying in the movie.
“Based on her translation I would go back to the Pakuni dictionary and make up sentences that go with her translation. What Anna translates is much more eloquent than what I am saying. But I am definitely trying to speak it correctly,” says Taccone, joking that he went to all that trouble for “the five people out there who will notice.”

(Here’s a video interview with Jorma Taccone. The section on Pakuni starts around 2:48)

While recently watching some re-runs of the original series, I was disappointed to see that Chaka simply spoke halting English in the final season. Thank you to Jorma Taccone from the way more than “five people out there who will notice” that Pakuni is back!

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