Count Zero wrote:
Due to the dialogue in "This Side of Paradise" I assumed it was Spock's first name that was unpronounceable while Spock was his surname/family name.
It seems I've missed this particular line in "Journey to Babel". I thought they had dropped this altogether later on, instead going for the 'xxx, son/daughter of xxx' route like in the Arab world. After all, none of the Vulcan appearing in Star Trek had more than one name, and they can't all have unpronounceable ones, can they?
Even just on Earth, different cultures use different naming customs. In some cultures, such as Latin America and the Arab world, people often have very long names that they only use part of; for instance, the Iraqi leader we knew as Saddam Hussein was actually Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti, and "Hussein" was not his surname, just his second given name. And the proper way of referring to him formally was simply Saddam.
In Vietnamese cultures, the family name comes first and the given name last, but again you use the given name in formal address, so Ho Chi Minh would've been Mr. Minh, even though that would be the equivalent of referring to Bill Clinton as Mr. Bill (Oh no!).
So it could certainly be possible for Spock to be the given name of Mr. Spock, and for him to have both an unpronounceable family name preceding his given name and a patronymic (translated as "child of Sarek") following it. And it could be Vulcan practice to use the given name most of the time, the patronymic in formal address, and the family name only infrequently, perhaps mainly just in record-keeping. Maybe the family names are extremely long, hence the pronunciation difficulty.