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

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Old May 20 2009, 07:23 AM   #16
David R. George III
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Re: Spock's full name

^ Well, I'd say that wasn't really clear either. That exchange in "Journey to Babel" went as follows.

Kirk: Mrs. Sarek, I just don't understand.
Amanda: Amanda. I'm afraid you couldn't pronounce the Vulcan name.
Kirk: Can you?
Amanda: After a fashion, and after many years of practice.

This might suggest a family name to some, but I never thought so. For one thing, Amanda tells Kirk that he "couldn't pronounce the Vulcan name" after asking him to call her by her given name. I thus assumed that the "Vulcan name" of which she spoke was an analogue of her Terran given name. For another thing, nowhere in the original series--nor, I believe, in any of its scions--do we learn of any Vulcan definitively having more than a single name. That doesn't mean that they don't, of course--it certainly took long enough for Sulu and Uhura to be granted given names--but I always found it compelling enough.

The thing is, for episodes like "This Side of Paradise" and "Journey to Babel," it has always seemed clear to me that the writers were playing with the notion of one-named Vulcans. They played with Spock having "another name," but neither offered the name nor even established with certainty that he even had "another name." One can imagine any number of in-universe explanations for Leila Kalomi's question of Spock. Back when they knew each other on Earth, where she had fallen in love with him, perhaps their conversations had turned to Spock's life, and he had intimated that he had "another name" without ever revealing it. Or perhaps he'd told Leila that some Vulcans took other names under specific circumstances or for specific reasons. There are uncounted ways such conversations could have set up her years later saying, "You never told me if you had another name, Mr. Spock."

The added (but minor) complexity of this might seem to fly in the face of Occam's Razor, but I feel the reverse is true: that Vulcans in general, and Spock in particular, having more than one name, despite hundreds of hours of film and television failing to produce one, seems an unconvincing complication and unlikely at best.
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Old May 20 2009, 08:31 AM   #17
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Re: Spock's full name

Certainly the evidence leaves open a wide range of possibilities.

I like the idea of Vulcans making do with just a single name, even if this creates some practical problems for populations larger than a hundred... There's a nice bit on it in Dillard's The Lost Years, where the long-out-of-the-loop ancient Vulcan mage is amused by the fact that Surakians still haven't run out of names in the S***k format.

OTOH, I like Duane's take on Romulan names, and I'd like to think it extends back to Vulcan names as well. That is, there are multiple names, but they are steeply hierarchial, far more so than our practice of given names and surnames. "Spock" would be the one to be used in public. "S'chn T'gai" could be reserved for clan/family ceremonies. And there could be Duanesque secret names, with strong magical connotations on how knowing the name gives one power over the person; the superficially rational Vulcans would be doubly motivated to keep those names from becoming public knowledge.

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Old May 20 2009, 03:22 PM   #18
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Re: Spock's full name

David R. George III wrote: View Post
^ Well, I'd say that wasn't really clear either. That exchange in "Journey to Babel" went as follows.

Kirk: Mrs. Sarek, I just don't understand.
Amanda: Amanda. I'm afraid you couldn't pronounce the Vulcan name.
Kirk: Can you?
Amanda: After a fashion, and after many years of practice.

This might suggest a family name to some, but I never thought so. For one thing, Amanda tells Kirk that he "couldn't pronounce the Vulcan name" after asking him to call her by her given name. I thus assumed that the "Vulcan name" of which she spoke was an analogue of her Terran given name.
Again, that doesn't make sense to me in context. Kirk has just called her "Mrs. Sarek," i.e. assuming that "Sarek" is her married surname. It therefore logically follows that the "Vulcan name" she's referring to is her true married surname, i.e. Sarek and Spock's family name.


One can imagine any number of in-universe explanations for Leila Kalomi's question of Spock. Back when they knew each other on Earth, where she had fallen in love with him, perhaps their conversations had turned to Spock's life, and he had intimated that he had "another name" without ever revealing it. Or perhaps he'd told Leila that some Vulcans took other names under specific circumstances or for specific reasons. There are uncounted ways such conversations could have set up her years later saying, "You never told me if you had another name, Mr. Spock."
That's overthinking it. In the context of that moment in the story, there is no reason why she would engage in such a total non sequitur as to bring up something from years in their past. The emotional tone of that moment in the episode is that she's frustrated at only being able to call him by his formal designation, "Mr. Spock," and is probing to see if he has a more personal, familiar form of address.

I profoundly doubt that D.C. Fontana, a working Hollywood scriptwriter who had to churn this episode and "Journey to Babel" out in a matter of weeks while busy with all sorts of other stuff, had the time or the inclination to concoct all sorts of convoluted and arcane worldbuilding that she was secretly alluding to when she wrote these lines. She was writing these scripts for a 20th-century American television audience, and she would naturally have written them to reflect the cultural references and expectations of the culture she belonged to and wrote for. If she wrote a scene where a woman refers to a man she loves as "Mr. X" and then asks if he has another name, she most likely meant a given name, a personal name as opposed to a surname. If she wrote a scene where a man referred to a woman married to foreign dignitary Y as "Mrs. Y" and the woman offered him her first name as an alternative, explaining "You couldn't pronounce the [foreign] name," she was most likely thinking of Mr. Y's true surname.
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Old May 20 2009, 03:33 PM   #19
Timo
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Re: Spock's full name

Kirk has just called her "Mrs. Sarek," i.e. assuming that "Sarek" is her married surname. It therefore logically follows that the "Vulcan name" she's referring to is her true married surname, i.e. Sarek and Spock's family name.
Assuming there's such a thing as a surname in Vulcan tradition. "Vulcan name" could just as well be what she was told to adopt instead of Amanda, or instead of Grayson, or instead of both - the classic "Indian name" thing.

As for whether DC Fontana thought or didn't think this or that, why would that be a concern here?

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Old May 20 2009, 08:09 PM   #20
David R. George III
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Re: Spock's full name

^ Quite so, Timo, on all counts. We understand what the writer was trying to accomplish, but that doesn't necessarily provide an in-universe explanation for Vucan appellations.
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Old May 20 2009, 08:42 PM   #21
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Re: Spock's full name

Christopher wrote: View Post
I profoundly doubt that D.C. Fontana, a working Hollywood scriptwriter who had to churn this episode and "Journey to Babel" out in a matter of weeks while busy with all sorts of other stuff, had the time or the inclination to concoct all sorts of convoluted and arcane worldbuilding that she was secretly alluding to when she wrote these lines.
Having met DC Fontana, and having discussed this stuff (briefly) with her, my impression was that the only concocting was in her cleverness to word the scripts so that people could take multiple meanings from her words. Worldbuilding without actually building the world - surely the most intriguing type of storytelling.

TOS was rich with this type of stuff. Hence all the "fanon" interpretations of everything over four decades!
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Old May 20 2009, 11:04 PM   #22
C.E. Evans
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Re: Spock's full name

Personally, "Spock, Son of Sarek" was always good enough for me...
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Old May 22 2009, 03:05 AM   #23
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Re: Spock's full name

Spock Sarekson. Sounds rather Norse, yes?
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Old May 22 2009, 03:37 AM   #24
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Re: Spock's full name

Claudia wrote: View Post
Googling for Spock's full name, I came across the Memory Beta-Wiki which lists his name as "S'chn T'gai Spock".
"Skoon Tuhgay Spock."

Were his parents pop stars?

Joe, anti-pop
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Old May 22 2009, 04:46 PM   #25
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Re: Spock's full name

Therin of Andor wrote: View Post
Having met DC Fontana, and having discussed this stuff (briefly) with her, my impression was that the only concocting was in her cleverness to word the scripts so that people could take multiple meanings from her words. Worldbuilding without actually building the world - surely the most intriguing type of storytelling.

TOS was rich with this type of stuff. Hence all the "fanon" interpretations of everything over four decades!
And I for one love reading that kind of thing, in any universe. I've been known to laugh out loud and mutter "Oh, you clever s.o.b.!" when I come across something like that in anyone's work.

There's another facet to it, and I don't know if other writers experience the same thing, but sometimes the character *won't tell you*. You can cajole, you can threaten, and they stonewall you. You can say "Okay, fine, be that way. I'll just put down the name *I* like." And you put it on the page, and you know it's wrong. So you sigh and delete it and the character gets to keep the secret.

Happens with plot points, too. I think a scene is going *this* way, and it veers off at the last minute and goes *that* way. It's particularly challenging when you get to the final scene and your plan was to wrap it up and state unequivocally "...and they all lived happily ever after." Instead, you find yourself typing "...and we can hope that they all lived happily ever after, but once you turn the page, we have no idea, do we?"
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Old May 22 2009, 05:20 PM   #26
ClayinCA
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Re: Spock's full name

Ah yes...the Princess Bride ending (the book, I mean). I think that's one way you know you're being a responsible writer - when you allow the book to be the book it wants to be, rather than necessarily the book you want it to be, if that makes any sense....
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Old May 22 2009, 08:21 PM   #27
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Re: Spock's full name

captcalhoun wrote: View Post
it's from a novel. it's also wrong. everyone knows Spock's first name is Carl.
They should have had Kirk call him that in the film as a goof.
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Old May 22 2009, 09:16 PM   #28
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Re: Spock's full name

Neither first names nor family names....
Who'd be a Vulcan postman?
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Old May 22 2009, 09:21 PM   #29
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Re: Spock's full name

flandry84 wrote: View Post
Neither first names nor family names....
Who'd be a Vulcan postman?
Not to mention the address problems. Sarek of Vulcan? Spock of Vulcan? Could you be a tad more specific??
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Old May 22 2009, 10:41 PM   #30
T'Ressa Dax
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Re: Spock's full name

"There are 3 Sareks in Shikahr, which would you like to contact?" hehe
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