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.