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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old April 5 2009, 01:23 PM   #1
Nardpuncher
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S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

I read on imdb that one of the novels gave Spock's first name as S'chn-T' Gaii. I know it may not be canon, but which book was it? I'm assuming it was one of those Vulcan ones by Susan Schwartz.
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Old April 5 2009, 01:32 PM   #2
The Laughing Vulcan
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

Ishmael by Barbara Hambly.
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Old April 5 2009, 01:32 PM   #3
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

Nardpuncher wrote: View Post
I read on imdb that one of the novels gave Spock's first name as S'chn-T' Gaii.
Memory Beta has S'chn T'gai as the names, but it's unclear which uncanonical source used it first. Sarek is S'chn T'gai Sarek. Ah, and it's also referenced under the novel Ishmael's entry in Memory Alpha.
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Last edited by Therin of Andor; April 5 2009 at 01:45 PM. Reason: Memory Alpha reference added
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Old April 5 2009, 01:34 PM   #4
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

It was indeed Ishmael (and the MB spelling is the right one). The book also gave Sarek's full name as S'chn T'gai Sarek.
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Old April 5 2009, 02:44 PM   #5
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

So they both have the same name?
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Old April 5 2009, 02:47 PM   #6
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

Count Zero wrote: View Post
So they both have the same name?
Yes, they have the same family name, as father and son generally do. Since Spock said his first name was unpronounceable in "This Side of Paradise" and Amanda said Sarek's family name was unpronounceable in "Journey to Babel," it's generally assumed that Vulcans, like Bajorans and most Asian cultures, put the family name first.
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Old April 5 2009, 03:14 PM   #7
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

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?
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Old April 5 2009, 04:24 PM   #8
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

I would suggest that Vulcans simply don't use their family names to any significant degree, which is why we've never learned them for any other character. Perhaps a "logical" desire to emphasize the accomplishments of the individual?
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Old April 5 2009, 04:28 PM   #9
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

http://www.starslip.com/archive/20050701.shtml
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Old April 5 2009, 05:42 PM   #10
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

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Old April 5 2009, 07:16 PM   #11
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

Count Zero wrote: View Post
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.
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Old April 5 2009, 07:44 PM   #12
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

Christopher wrote: View Post
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.
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? I think it's more likely the line was just a way to show Spock being aloof again, without thinking about the Vulcan naming scheme to much.
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Old April 5 2009, 07:52 PM   #13
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

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.

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Old April 5 2009, 08:07 PM   #14
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

Count Zero wrote: View Post
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: View Post
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).
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Old April 5 2009, 08:13 PM   #15
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Re: S'chn-T' Gaii Spock?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Count Zero wrote: View Post
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.
Well, that's true. It isn't clear in English, I suppose. I just assumed that "first name" was the same as "given name", since there's only one word for it in my language.
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