Vulcan Personal Names (Part 3)


In Surak’s time, expressions of heritage, family affiliations, and ties to ruling dynasties were of great importance in establishing identity. House and clan symbols were worn on robes – much as they are today in Vulcan ceremonies of family and state. In the far-distant past, clan and dynastic seals were stamped into clay as official signatures. Some of these seals can be seen, along with samples of ancient clan embroidery, in the T’Sar Museum in Shi’Kahr. In addition to symbols and seals, color was also used to identify house and clan, much in the same way that tartans have identified Scottish clans on Terra for centuries. As on Earth, blue was a difficult and costly color to produce in fabrics, and on Vulcan it was particularly prized and reserved for only the ruling dynasties. The name Tolaris (t’olara’es = “of the honorable blue”) doesn’t make much sense unless one is familiar with Vulcan’s ancient ancestral traditions. The main element of the name, lara’es, originates from the name of a dazzling blue desert bird, the lara. The robes of this dynastic house were dyed to evoke the hue of this bird.

Many Vulcan names still in use today make reference to clan affiliation. Some examples include Solek (s’oluhk = “from the snake clan”), Salok (s’aluk = “from the fish clan”), T’Mir (t’sai maat-irak = “lady of the distant clan”), and T’Mihn (t’sai maat i’ni = “lady of the copper clan”). In the first two examples, “clan” (maat) is implied. The word maat was so commonly used with personal names that over time it became a contraction. Today M’ is a popular prefix in Vulcan name elements. The Clan of the Snake and the Clan of the Fish derived from totem animals, which were important resources, as was copper for the Copper Clan, whose descendants still manage a mine in the Al-Stakna Mountains. The name M’Fau (maat fau = “clan that rides”) is another good example that boasts of privileged resources, namely dzharel, Vulcan’s equivalent to mustang-like horses.

The names Sevennin (s’fen-igen “from the sky-seal”) and Sofek (s’ofek = “from the honorable staff”) point to the First Dynasty. Sevennin refers to the Sky Clan, who for a millennium controlled the vast Kalrenta Plateau in Gol. All edicts, bills of sale, and early ship manifests from the clan bore their official seal. The element fek in Sofek is believed to refer to the scepter ruling lords bore during the First Dynasty.

Not all ancestral names are associated with ruling houses or boast of prized resources. Some bear witness to insurrection and struggles against oppression. Names such as Selv (s’el-veh = “from the free one”), Strom (s’trufemu = “from the martyr”), Salet (salatik = “indigenous/native”), and Solen (s’oleh-nau = “from the honorable nineteen”) all recall violent times of take-over, oppression, and revolt. This last name was a puzzle to scholars until an ancient manuscript shed light on nineteen revolutionaries who lead a revolt against a warlord in Duveh. All were martyred.

One name, fortunately, speaks of a coming together of peoples. T’Rehu (t’sai rehu = “lady of the three”) is thought by most scholars to refer to the three tribes that inhabited the Viltan Flats in the polar region of Tat’Sahr. Other instances of tribal alliances have occurred throughout Vulcan’s history. The best-known and largest of these were the te’Vikram. I’ll focus on the naming traditions of these nomadic tribes in my next post.


Vulcan Personal Names (Part 2)


Nothing mattered more in Vulcan prehistory than one’s environment and a sense of place. On a planet poor in life-sustaining resources, huge wars were fought over a well or for a small piece of land in a fertile valley. Wars were fought for shelters in caves, for access to the sea and mineral-rich mines. It’s little wonder, then, that many Vulcan personal names pay homage to places that were cherished and became a source of pride to the clans that held onto them. In this post, we’ll take a look at names derived from places, which were important indicators of clan-association in the distant past. Many of these names arise out of Ancient Vulcan, which was a less-contracted, softer-sounding language than Modern Golic.

The easiest origin names to identify are those that refer to ancient kingdoms, many of which are now provinces. One of the most successful kingdoms of prehistory was Raal. Names such as Sorahl (sa’Raal = “from out of Raal”) and Raelyek (Raal-yai-ek = “Raalan flame”) are still popular today, much in the same way that the Terran name Erin (Éireann = “of Ireland”) is among those of Irish heritage. Tat’sahr was another vast kingdom, and many of those with Tat’sahran roots bear the name Satat (sa’Tat’sahr = “from out of Tat’sahr”).

Mountains have always been places of great reverence on Vulcan. One range which is specifically named appears in contracted form in Syrran (s’yar-Arlanga = “from the grassy Arlanga”). It is interesting to note that when the Vulcan High Command began to hunt down the Syrranites, the search began on the grassy slopes of the Arlanga Mountains near Lake Yuron. It is believed that Syrran, whose real name was Arev (“desert wind”), took this name to throw the authorities off his trail. His family actually has deep roots in T’Paal. Another famous Vulcan out of history also assumed a name in reverence to a mountain. Sanshiin, founder of the Path of Kolinahr, was originally referred to as sa(su) na’shi-igen or “the man at sky-place,” a nod to Mount Kolinahr, the highest peak in Gol. The name T’Reni can be traced back to the expression t’sai reh-ni’rch or “lady of the three fires,” an early clan matriarch in the region of the volcanic peaks of T’Raan, T’Riall, and T’Regar. Another mountainous name was T’Selis, from t’sai zhel-izh (“lady of the snowline”).

Examples of names believed to refer to Vulcan’s most famous peak, Mount Seleya, are Sidzhan (s’i’tsan = “from the bridge”) – a name frequently borne by Seleyan priests – and T’Peia. The latter comes to us from the Tale of Sulen and T’Vhet and has been greatly worn down from t’sai pa’eitaya, meaning “lady of the shear.” Sulen, warlord of Kir’Ahl, wished to add the city-state of Shi’Kahr to his lands. He sought to accomplish this through bonding his son with the daughter of the matriarch of Shi’Kahr, a girl who became known as T’Peia. Refusing to submit to subjugation, T’Vhet bore her daughter away to the sanctuary of Seleya. It didn’t take long for Sulen to find her, and he stormed the monastery with his army. The priests fought valiantly to protect the girl, but every last one was slaughtered. T’Peia went through with the bonding to Sulen’s son, but at the last moment, while she was still joined with him in a mind-meld, she threw herself into the chasm below. The sudden severing of the bond destroyed Sulen’s son. To this day, Seleyan priestesses will say that they hear the girl’s wails in the wind shears of electrical storms that plague the region. The element eitaya (“shear”) also serves to refer to the severing of the telepathic bond in the story. Some versions of the tale have the bonding take place atop Sulen’s tallest tower, but the acolytes of Seleya will tell you otherwise. 1

On a planet as dry as Vulcan, it comes as no surprise that some of the commonest name elements refer to water. T’Sanvi (t’sai sanuk vik = “lady of the pleasant well”), Aravik (arev vik = “well of the desert wind”), and Ivek (heya-vik = “mountain well”) are a few examples. The name Sekir (s’sek-irak = “from the distant outlet/stream”) was popular near Lake Yuron where the source of the lake, high up in the Arlanga Mountains, was long revered. Many names in Dzhaleyl, located at the mouth of the River Na’Ri, contain the element selk meaning “delta.” The Raalan warlord Sudoc of Surak’s time took his name in reference to the same river (s’udohk = “from the river mist”). Other features in the Vulcan landscape were also considered sacred, for they pointed the way to water. Pollu bushes were only found clustered near oases, and from them the name T’Pol (t’sai pollu = “lady of the pollu”) comes. Even dried-up sites were respected in names, such as Sotir (s’otir = “from the dry lake bed”).

Personal names also point to nomadic versus settled ways of life. The names Skaren (s’ka’ran-zhi-shi = “from the cactus place”), Snil (s’nik’el = “from the convoy”), and T’Kar (t’sai kahr = “lady of the city”) all date to the First Dynasty.

One of the most interesting name origins is that of a name which has been greatly worn down over the ages so that it is almost unrecognizable. It’s interesting because although it comes from the Ancient Vulcan language, it occurs nowhere on Vulcan: T’Alaro (t’sai ashal-Ah’rak = “lady of beloved Vulcan”). It can be found among the Rihannsu of Romulus, where it has been noted in ancient texts and is now enjoying a renewed popularity.

Next time, we’ll take a look at how an individual’s ancestry was often reflected in his/her forename.


1The way of kolinahr: the Vulcans. (1998). Culver City, CA: Last Unicorn Games, p. 19-20.