Though the term "Klingonese" was widely used in the Federation in the 23rd century, it was not the correct name for the Klingon language. In truth, a number of languages were in use in the Empire, and were known collectively as Klingonaase, which meant, roughly, "the speech of the Klingon people." (The double-a construction in the word Klingonaase is pronounced nasally, halfway between the English/Galacta a of the word ace and the e of easy.)
Battle language is an extremely efficient version of Klingonaase that uses contractions and short forms of words and phrases to give distinct and rapid commands during combat in space or on the ground. It is also known (though rather imprecisely) as "clipped Klingonese." When a speaker is excited, in a hurry, or being extremely informal, he will commonly revert to these shortened forms.
Battle language sounds perfectly natural to a native speaker, but may be difficult for a person who learns Klingonaase as a second language. Battle language omits most pronominal prefixes, verb tense indicators, and other indicators, leaving just the raw forms of the nouns, verbs, and adjectives. In context, the meaning is clear, if the listener has grown up speaking Klingonaase. Others may have difficulty reasoning out the meaning, even if they have an extensive Klingonaase vocabulary.
The compressed forms of battle language are not suitable for subtle conversation. Because the proper subject/verb/object indicators are absent, the speaker would be unable to use it to communicate more complex ideas. Thus, it is normally used only for commands, quick explanations, and familiar phrases. One might use battle language to say "Fire torpedoes!" or "I need help!", but rarely for more complicated sentences requiring multiple nouns or lengthy instructions. As a rule of thumb, battle language can often be used to tell someone to do something, rarely to tell someone how to do it, and almost never to tell someone why.
Insults are an artform among Klingons. The best insults are those implying derision through exaggeration or understatement (in other words, sarcasm). A common example would be to apply a lofty honorific or title to one who had not earned it. Addressing a Klingon Lieutenant as "Captain" while reading him the riot act for failing in his duty would be a devastating blow to his ego. It would be worse to call him "General", as the Naval services traditionally consider the ground forces to be an undisciplined bunch of amateurs (and vice versa). Klingons do not seem to understand the concept of puns, probably because the structure of Klingonaase does not lend itself to the double meaning.
The Klingon who can deliver a subtle insult in English/Galacta is rare. Most Klingons prefer the more direct approach of picking a bar fight (usually with a heavy mug of ale or a chair leg applied as punctuation). The Starfleet officer who can deliver a complicated and devastating insult in Klingonaase, however, is rarer still.
- McLimore, Guy W. Jr., Poehlein, Greg K., and Tepool, David F., with Ippolito, Donna, and Huettel, Todd W. "The Klingons: Star Fleet Intelligence Manual." Star Trek: The Role Playing Game, Supplement 2002, Second Edition. Based on original material by Ford, John M. Illustrations by Todd F. Marsh, Dana Knutson, Jeff Laubenstein, and Mitch O'Connell. FASA Corporation. 1987.