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.