Vulcan Personal Names (Part 5)

CHILDHOOD NAMES

From very early times, children in Vulcan society were given childhood names at birth and later allowed to choose adult names upon the successful completion of a rite of passage. The most famous and widely accepted of these rites was the kahs-wan survival exercise in the torturous heat of the Vulcan deserts. In the city-state of Shi’Kahr during Surak’s time, only adolescent males were expected (and permitted) to undergo the kahs-wan. Those who were successful were granted an adult name – usually indicative of some noble quality – during an elaborate ritual. Those who survived the kahs-wan but did not complete it were not allowed to take adult names. Needless to say, this restriction brought shame to the unsuccessful young man for the rest of his life and prevented him from social advancement. By Surak’s time, however, boys were permitted to seek additional training and undertake the kahs-wan as many times as they needed in order to pass all its rigorous tests. It was not long after Surak’s death that many young men, upon reaching adulthood, began to adopt names starting with S in his honor. At the time of the Sundering, 28.6% of Vulcan’s adult population – both male and female – had taken S names.1 Shi’Kahran girls were permitted to take new names on their wedding day, if they so desired. It is not known what percentage of the female population actually did, but larger and larger numbers began taking S names.

But let’s take a step back and look at some of the names Vulcan parents historically gave to their children. Although the custom of adopting an adult name – in place of a childhood name – has died out, some of the oldest families still practice the tradition. Nowadays, most Vulcans retain their birth name.

Several children’s names survive from Surak’s time and express joy, love, gratitude, hope, legitimacy, health conditions, birth order, and birth time, among other things. As in earlier Terran times, a child’s conception by a bonded pair was crucial to his/her status in society. Two names emphasize this status: Stel (s’tel = “from the bond”) and Sopek (s’obek = “from the honorable wait,” that is, the child was conceived during a sanctioned pon farr). Both of these names are still in use these days, although their meaning has long been forgotten or considered unimportant.

Season of birth was noted in names like Stak (s’ta’Krat = “from the seventh month”), Stalat (s’ta’lakht = “from the tenth month”), Rovalat (rok + vahl + lakht = “a grant of hope in the tenth month”), and Salkath (salan-k’rhth’a = “k’rhth’a-wind”).2  The name Muroc (mu-yor rok = “night hope”) was likely given to a child born during the night, and Vektan (duvek ta’an = “shade gift”) was probably an indication that the child was either conceived or born in the shade. As one can imagine, Vektan has proven to be one of Vulcan’s most popular names.

Every parent hopes for a healthy child. Exceptions to normal health were noted in a few Vulcan names. Tekav (tekar-kaf = “deviant blood”) indicated some inherited blood condition, and Kesh (rik’esh = “without breath”) was perhaps a reference to asthma or difficulty getting the infant to take its first breath. On a planet with limited resources, twins were a notable and sometimes alarming exception to the single birth. The name Haadok (ha-dahkuh = “two-life/twin”) was not likely given in joy, and the name Rekan (rehr kan = “third child”) may also have been used in shame or defiance in the distant past when more than two children was considered excessive. The name survives today but no longer holds such negative connotation. It is not known if the name Anauk (ha nauk = “cries vigorously”) was given as an indication of the child’s healthy lung capacity or out of sleepless frustration.

Many Vulcan children’s names capture the joy and gratitude of their parents. Here are a few examples: Haurauk (ha taurauk = “amazing life”), Shanik (shan’hal’lik = “loved at first sight”), Talok (taluhk = “precious”), Stark (s’tah rok = “from unobtainable hope”), and Sitar (s’itar-bosh = “from the thankful”). Probably the most famous expression of parental joy is found in the ancient name Spok, a contraction of spo’k’hat’n’dlawa, meaning “resembling half of each other’s heart and soul” – a name given to the child of Ambassador Sarek and Amanda Greyson and modernized in Federation Standard English as Spock.

In my next post, I’ll give some examples of names that note personal qualities, which were often adopted upon the attainment of adulthood.

NOTES

1 Sherman, J. & Shwartz, S. (2004). Vulcan’s soul, book one: Exodus. New York: Pocket Books, p. 209.

2 K’rhth’a is an herb. Its scent is particularly noted in the onshore winds that blow in from the Voroth Sea along the coast of Raal during the fourth month.

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Vulcan Personal Names (Part 4)

DEEP DESERT NOMADS

The te-Vikram , the largest federation of tribes in Vulcan’s history, were the nomads of the Cheleb-Khor region. Their name in Ancient Vulcan (temok vik-rahm = “wall of the thunder-well”) identified them as guardians of the only source of water in the Womb of Fire, the harshest and most desolate place in the Cheleb-Khor Desert. The vik-rahm, or “thunder-well,” was so named because it was located in an area prone to ground tremors that often rolled like thunder.1 The men of the tribe formed a brotherhood of warriors that were fiercely protective of their territory and way of life. For them, the Forge was an anvil on which they were beaten and tempered into Vulcan’s strongest and bravest. It was from their rites of passage that the kahs-wan ritual developed, and it is thought that the militaristic nature of Romulan society was inherited from the ancient te-Vikram customs and mindset.

The earliest territory of the te-Vikram extended west to the Fire Plains of Raal and northward to the volcanic peaks of T’Raan, T’Riall, and T’Regar. These active volcanoes, along with the fiery hues of the crystalline formations of the plains, had a profound impact on the religious and spiritual beliefs of the tribes. The majority of te-Vikram names, including those that survive to the present day, express a reverence for fire and flame. Such names include Ayhan (vai yon = “holy fire”), N’Ereon (nei fer-yon = “seed of the fire generation”), N’Rayek (nei Reah-yai-ek = “seed of Reah’s flame”)2, and N’Veyan (nei veh-yon = “seed of the flaming one”)3, Sikan (s’ikun = “from the cone/volcano”), and T’Saan (t’sai sa’yon = “lady from out of the fire,” thought to be a reference to the Old Mother of Fire, a name often given to the matriarch of the te-Vikram.)4

The prefix N’, a contraction of nei (“seed”), was a common name element for males, although in more recent times, it can be found in female names.  Many daughters, on the other hand, were named Tasav (tah-savas = “unobtainable fruit”), suggesting a healthy fertility that was beyond the reach of the average man. According to ancient custom, women’s names were never spoken in the presence of strangers.5

Other name elements that were popular among the te’Vikram conjure up images of the desert. Such names include N’Keth (nei k’pseth = “desert seed”), T’Arvot (t’sai arev-odva =“lady of the desert-wind faith”), Alieth (al’rig pseth = branch of the desert”), Hanesh (feihan eshikh = “boss of the desert”), and Sepek (sef-pelq = “dune captain”).

Anyone wishing to learn more about the te-Vikram will want to read the Vulcan’s Soul series by Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz.

Next time we’ll see how birth conditions affected Vulcan naming traditions.

NOTES

1The ornate ruins of this well can still be seen on the eastern edge of the Womb of Fire, although its water source has long been diverted by seismic activity.

2Reah was an ancient goddess of death, loss, and grief.

3The ancient god of war, Khosaar, was often called “The Flaming One.”

4 Sherman, J. & Shwartz, S. (2004). Vulcan’s soul, book one: Exodus. New York: Pocket Books, p. 107.

5 Sherman, J. & Shwartz, S. (2006). Vulcan’s soul, book two: Exiles. New York: Pocket Books, p. 18.