Count Zero wrote:
Sounds reasonable and interesting. But why then didn't Spock say in "This Side Of Paradise" that she already knew his first name, so to speak?
Because she didn't ask for his given
name, she asked if he had a first
name. Being literal-minded, he would've taken "first name" to mean exactly that, the name that comes first, regardless of whether it's a given name or a family name or something else. In our
culture, we equate "first name" with "given name" so completely that we often don't even realize there's a difference. But that's hardly universal.
Trent Roman wrote:
It seems strange, considering the relative similarity of Vulcan physiology, and what we know elsewhere of the Vulcan language, that these Vulcan names would be deemed 'unpronounceable'. Perhaps, like The Artist Formely Known As Prince, part of Vulcan names include symbols that were never intended to be spoken aloud? Like if European aristocrats would have included their family heraldry after written references to themselves.
The word "unpronounceable" -- implying "impossible for people in general to pronounce" -- was never actually used. When Leila Kalomi asked Spock if he had a first name, his reply was "You
couldn't pronounce it." When Kirk addressed Amanda as "Mrs. Sarek," she corrected him by saying, "Amanda. I'm afraid you
couldn't pronounce the Vulcan name." When Kirk asked if she could, she replied, "After a fashion, and after many years of practice." (Note that both episodes were by D.C. Fontana.)
So it's not a case of being physically impossible to pronounce, just difficult for the uninitiated to render correctly. And there is precedent for this, even among humans. Some languages have sounds that people raised speaking other languages can't pronounce at all, because they never had to learn. Lots of people can't pronounce the English "th" sound. Lots of people can't pronounce the clicks of the !Kung language. Sometimes you can learn how to pronounce foreign sounds with practice, but I can't do a Spanish "rr" properly (at least in the context of fluid speech) even though I took three years of high-school Spanish. So it's not a matter of anatomy, it's a matter of whether your vocal anatomy has been trained to produce the sound in question. Amanda's lines demonstrate that it is possible for a human to learn the Vulcan sounds with much practice (and she may have been downplaying her own facility to avoid embarrassing Kirk).