Khan Noonien Singh and Noonien Soong were both named after an Indian gentleman that Gene Roddenberry had met in some context (during his military service?), and he used the character names as a way to try to reconnect with that man.
Actually, according to recent research by John and Maria Tenuto
, it was a Chinese man named Noonien Wang. Which clears up a lot for me, because "Noonien" is very much not an Indian name. (It's weird that Roddenberry would give a Chinese name to a Sikh character, but back then, Americans seemed to treat all of Asia as one interchangeable mass. I recently watched a 1965 Man from UNCLE
episode in which a line from the Rubaiyat
, a Persian poem, is used as a code name for a boy lama from a Himalayan country!)
Any other stories like these that anybody's aware of?
Well, we already have a thread on how Sulu was named for the Sulu Sea in the Philippines to represent his "pan-Asian" heritage, and "Uhura" is the Swahili word for freedom, uhuru
, with a Latin feminine suffix grafted on.
Commodore Robert Wesley was named after a pseudonym Roddenberry had used early in his writing career. Wesley was his middle name, and was also the source of Wesley Crusher's name.
Jean-Luc Picard was originally called Julien Picard. His surname was in honor of the Piccard family of scientists and balloonists. Will Riker was going to be Bill Ryker. "Data" was supposed to be pronounced with a short A, according to the original writers' bible. Julian Bashir was going to be Julian Amoros. Janeway's first name was originally Elizabeth, then Nicole during Genevieve Bujold's brief tenure in the role, finally becoming Kathryn after the Hepburnesque Kate Mulgrew was cast.