Vulcan Personal Names (Part 9)


Previously, we saw how nature has been revered in Vulcan names. In addition to the totem animals of tribes, names such as Stonn (stonn = “antler”), Tuvok (tu va’khen = “way of the mountain raptor”), T’Lara (t’sai lara = “lady blue desert bird”), and S’laron (s’lara-yon = “from the blue firebird”) show a reverence for wildlife. Likewise, the wind was respected for its strength, the seeds it carried, and the relief it brought from the heat. The element arev (“desert wind”) appears in several names: Evoras (arev-vohris = “desert breeze”), Aravik (arev vik = “well of the desert wind”), T’Ara (t’sai arev vakh = “lady bold desert wind”), Evekh (arev ekhlami = “surrounded by desert wind”), and Surev (s’uralaun arev = “from the singing desert wind”). The element salan (“wind”) as in T’Sala (t’sai salan = “lady wind”) was also used in naming traditions but less often.

Thunder occurs infrequently on Vulcan, but when it struck in ancient times, it must have been a terrifying force – painful to sensitive ears – to comprehend. Names such as T’Rama (t’sai rahm vakh = “lady thunder”) and N’Evran (nei arev-rahm = “seed of the desert thunder-wind”) pay homage to this natural phenomenon. Some scholars believe that the word for “thunder,” rahm, might have originally referred to the rumble of an earthquake or volcano.

Phenomena of the celestial realm did not escape Vulcan notice or fascination. The name element yel (star) is still common today. Selon (s’yel-yon = “from the star-fire”), Selik (s’yel’iki = “from the soul of the star”), Sorel (tsoraya-yel = “star cache”)1, and Selek (s’yel-ekon = “from the star-god”) are some of the oldest recorded Vulcan names, as is T’Pau (t’sai pau = “lady corona”). Other names also reference light: T’Shael (t’sai s’ha’gel = “lady from the light”), T’Hen (also rendered T’Hain, from ha’ge-igen = “lady sky-light”)2, and the curious name S’harien (s’harr-igen = “from the tail of the sky,” an expression thought to refer to the phenomenon of a sun pillar).

Vulcan personal names also point to a pantheon of prehistoric gods. Like many cultures on Earth, it was considered sacrilegious to take the name of a god or goddess. One was, after all, a servant of the divine. Examples of these names include T’Nedara (t’sai Natara = “lady of Natara,” god of water), T’Kosa (t’sai Khosaar = “lady of Khosaar,” a god of war), T’Gra (t’sai Gratan = “lady of Gratan,” a desert spirit), Serevan (s’Reah-van-kal = “from Reah’s ceremony,” a goddess of death and loss), and Refas (Reah-vash = “Reah’s terror” – a favorite among the te-Vikram brotherhood).

From the temple traditions come the names T’Sanik (t’sai sa’nikh = “lady from out of the Eye”)3 and T’Vria (t’sai vre-ha = “lady life-vessel”). But no name is more mystical than T’Plana-Hath (t’sai pla-nahan-a’Tha = “lady return-thinking to the direct experience of the Universe”). The only bearer of that name was the head of a school of Vulcan historians during the Sudocian Wars. Her History of Logic remains a standard text in Vulcan universities. Surak was one of her pupils.4

Next week, I’ll wrap up our study of Vulcan names with a list of the most common personal names and their meanings.

1 An early expression for “galaxy.”

2 i.e., a light in the sky, not an overhead window.

3 A reference to T’Khut, Vulcan’s sister planet.

4 The way of kolinahr: the Vulcans. (1998). Culver City, CA: Last Unicorn Games, p. 15.

Vulcan Personal Names (Part 8)


Along with occupation, ancestry, and personal qualities, Vulcan names point sharply to a history of violence, food and water shortages, and social upheaval. Some of the oldest names come to us from the Ancient Vulcan language and express a basic struggle for survival. For example, Satak (sa’i’hatik = “from out of the surviving”), T’Risa (t’sai rishan-ha = “lady of vigorous survival”), and T’Aria (t’sai ha ri’a’gra = “lady of resolute life”) come to mind. On a planet where solar flares made farming impossible in some regions and unpredictable in others, hunger was an ever-present reality. Starvation ensued when supply lines were cut and trade embargos enforced. Two names celebrate the survival of hungry times: Tavin (t’avon = “of the hunger”) and Kerak (k’yerak = “with bowl,” i.e. “with food”). This last name may simply be an expression of hope that the next generation would not go hungry.

Hope was a luxury to most Vulcans but one they did not hesitate to share with their children and community. Names like Dzharok (also spelled Jarok in Federation Standard English; dzhar-rok = “lay/song of hope”) and Turak (tu-rok = “way of hope”) were popular in war-torn regions along the eastern shore of the Voroth Sea during the Second Dynasty. Specific wars and skirmishes were commemorated in personal names, such as Saavik (sa’ahkh-vik = “from out of the well-war”) and Surak (s’ur-ahkh = “from the tunnel-war”). One of the stories surrounding Surak’s birth is that on the night his mother went into labor, she was forced to make her way to the medical center through the tunnels beneath Shi’Kahr’s Old Town, but she almost didn’t make it. While the warlord Sudoc bombarded the city with missile strikes, suicide bombers forced their way into the tunnels. The majority of the Raalan missiles were shot down, but it took Shialan ground forces nine days to secure the tunnels and lava tubes beneath the city.

Another conflict from Surak’s time, noted in the Vulcan personal name Sasek, was the Sundering, when those who would become the Rihannsu left in generational ships to find a new home on Romulus. Sasek is formed from sa’Seheikk’ke, meaning literally “away from the Sundered,” an indication that the one who bore the name, or the parent who bestowed it, did not agree or associate with those who called themselves the Sundered.

As warlords vied for territory and natural resources, the victorious more often than not oppressed their conquered populations. Resistance cells developed, as is evidenced in names like Selden (s’el-tehnaya = “from the free resistance”) and Velekh (veh el’es ekhlami = “one surrounded by freedom”). The warrior was honored and boasted in many names, such as Senek (senepa-ekon = “knife-god”), Senkar (senepa kahr = “knife of the city”), T’Lyra (t’sai lirpa = “lady of the lirpa”), T’Amar (t’sai ahn’vahr = “lady of the double-edge sword”), Mahak (mah-vel + ak = “hammer-like), T’Vran (t’sai vi ran = “lady who kills”), and equally chilling monikers like Dvir (duv-hirat = “crimson shadow”). It’s no wonder that the name T’Vhet (t’sai vet = “lady of doubt”) became popular in Surak’s time.

Within the shadows of dark times, Vulcan mysticism flourished, offering a beacon of light for the hungry and oppressed. For my last installment on Vulcan personal names, I’ll point out those names which developed from Vulcan mystic and religious traditions.

Vulcan Personal Names (Part 7)


Some of Vulcan’s oldest and most revered occupations are reflected in the names of its people. A similar custom exists in many of Earth’s cultures. Surnames such as Smith, Cooper, Taylor, Weaver, and Wright all come to mind from the English tradition. From the Vulcan fishing villages on the coasts of the Voroth and Thanor Seas, names such as T’Pavis (t’sai pa’visu = “lady around the nets”) and T’Velar (t’sai fel-ar’kadan = “lady rower”) were popular.

Other names sprang from markets and bazaars: Prisu (prisu = “braider”), Oratt (oradasu = “honorable spinner”), T’Mor (t’sai mor = “lady of the leaf”),1 T’Mar (t’sai mahr = “market lady”), and T’Kiha (t’sai ki’haf = “basket lady”). One name of particular interest that has survived from the great desert bazaars is T’Neithan (t’sai nei-pseth-thon = “lady of the dry-seed measure”). The weight of one hundred cholla seeds was used as a standard measure up until the First Dynasty. The precise and fair weighing of trade goods was regarded as a sacred occupation, as was farming. One who could bring forth food from barren soil was highly regarded indeed. Solor (solek-tor = “one who works the soil”) is one of the names that comes to us from the farming traditions.

Those who could build sound structures and keep encroaching dunes at bay were also well respected. Kovar (kov ar’kadan = “stone-worker”), Suvok (su-vok = “person of the level/a mason’s apprentice”), Sefor (sef + tor = “dune-maker/shaper”), and Varen (aber + in = “one who raises up/a builder”) are some of the oldest names from the construction trades. T’Vish (t’sai vishizhukel = “lady of the foundry”) is likewise a popular name from the skilled trades.

From the courts of kings and warlords come names such as Lhai (leshu hai-fan = “standard bearer”), Vareth (var ithag = “story expert”), Suter (su-terseht = “insignia-person/a herald”), Stepn (svep-dvinsu = “doorkeeper”), Sarissa (s’a’rs’a = from the dance/a dancer”), Sybok (svai-bah-ker = “master of the bloom-garden”),2 and Vorealt (vohris-ryll-torsu = “slow ryll-player”).3

Temple traditions have yielded an equally impressive array of personal names. A few examples include T’Rel (t’sai reldai = “lady of the priestess”), T’Ra (t’sai ho-rah = “lady of ritual”), Sarda (sa-reldai = “priest”), and Ladok, an interesting name from a phrase that means “here serves honorable god,” la dvin-tor oekon.

Perhaps the most fascinating of what could be considered occupational names is one which survives from Surak’s time: Skamandros (skamau mamut-rushan = “attracts conversion aid”). The “conversion” in reference here is the reformation begun by Surak. Skamandros was one of Surak’s confidents and often served as his bodyguard. He took the name in honor of Surak. His given name was Ayhan (vai yon = “holy fire”).4

And speaking of Surak’s time, there are many Vulcan names which bear witness to troubled times. I’ll take a look at those in my next post.

1”Leaf” is thought to be a reference to tea or herbs.

2 Literally “bloom-garden;” “master” is implied.

3 Ryll is another word for ka’athaira, the traditional Vulcan lute.

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

Vulcan Personal Names (Part 6)


Like personal names from many Terran cultures, Vulcan names often describe a trait supposedly inherent in the individual. In ancient times, children were permitted to choose an adult name during a rite of passage, such as the kahs-wan. In modern Vulcan society, names no longer have the importance they once did. The same is true on Earth. For example, the name Gerald means “one who rules with a spear” and the Germanic nobleman who bore it was expected to be a bold warrior. Although spears are no long in use on Earth, the name still is. The name – like most names – is selected more for its sound when spoken than its meaning.

The simplest form “trait” names took was a single adjective, such as Vach (vakh = “bold”), Talok (taluhk = “precious”), and Varek (var+ek = “talkative”). Other “trait” names are formed by a noun and a qualifying adjective. Examples include Satok (sa tok = “fine male”), Tallera (talu lerash = “hard neck”), Skon (sohk-yon = “elegant fire”), Telas (tel-hasu = “telepathic being”), Azeraik (az’ir vaikar = “devoted mate”), and T’Karik (t’sai karik = “strong lady”). The first two in this list are most likely childhood names – Tallera given to a stubborn child – while the rest were likely chosen upon reaching adulthood.

Some ancient childhood names can seem harsh or cruel to modern sensibilities. The name Vethek (veh thek = “one who drops”) comes from the phrase ish-veh thek, meaning literally “that one drops,” was in all likelihood an indication of epilepsy or similar neurological disorder. Vanik (vaunik = “hesitant”), Voris (vohris = “slow”), Nivol (nikh-vul = “eye slant”), and Radak (ra dak = “what is cast out/outcast”) are other examples of undesirable traits, or so they seem to modern offworlders. But slanted, almond-shaped eyes were considered especially beautiful among many Vulcan clans, and traits such as slowness or hesitancy were noted with concern for the child’s well-being. Such names were given in the hopes that a child would outgrow or overcome a negative trait, especially if others were alerted to it and could assist the child. Radak would most certainly have been an adult name and one that was ritually assigned to an individual shunned from the community. However, the name survives to the present day due to the popularity of such outcasts in the past. Many, such as Surak, developed their own followings and started cultural revolutions.

As one might suspect, in ancient times, children were not often officially named until the age of two or three when personality and traits were more developed and recognizable. Some childhood names reflected great praise – for example, Sarek (sahr ek’ariben’es = “fast fluency”), Sarpk (sahr pakashogaya = “fast perception”), and Sorrd (sau rytemk = “one who radiates rytemk” (a state of healing). Even Storn (storaun = “developing, advancing”) was considered high praise.

Some further examples of adult names expressing personal traits include T’Laan (t’sai la’n’u = “lady who approves”), Pola (po’lahv = one who had the last word;” literally, “after-tongue”), Vyorin (vi orenau = “one who studies”), and Vorik (veh orfik-kel = “one of the ancestors”). This last name wouldn’t seem to be desirable to a modern Vulcan, but the name is ancient and evoked the strong, omniscient qualities of Vulcan’s legendary heroes and demigods.

Next time we’ll look at names which point to Vulcan’s highly valued occupations, past and present.