General Species' Planet Names Inquiry

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by PaulMarshall, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's what it should've been, but unfortunately Enterprise: "Minefield" scuttled that when Hoshi reported receiving a message from the "Rommelan Star Empire" and T'Pol said "Romulan. It's pronounced Romulan."
     
  2. uniderth

    uniderth Commodore Commodore

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    I don't accept Enterprise as canon, so that's not a problem for me. :techman:
     
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  3. Tim Thomason

    Tim Thomason Commodore Commodore

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    Humans had heard of Romulans before, either via boomer contacts with other species or through the Vulcans who may have had a war with the Romulans if Q is to be believed.

    Then, the Humans name the Romulans (rihannsu or a near-unpronounceable variant in the reports) based on their reported martial culture, reported twin planetary homeworld (that is apparently incorrect), or reported location in a system already charted and nicknamed after mythological Romulus.

    The Universal Translator hears the word rihannsu or whatever and connects it with the culture already translated as "Romulan" in its database and tells this to Hoshi. She misunderstands, as she's using the UT to help translate and stumbles over the word. T'Pol, familiar with the Romulan culture and its translation in English, corrects Hoshi.
     
  4. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh blimey this is weird! If a Klingon is born on Earth then he is a Klingon born on Earth! Same goes for all the other races and those here on this planet! The actor Burt Kwouk of Pink Panther fame was born in the UK of Chinese descent, but he himself said he was Chinese more than being British! He felt kin with his family I guess rather than the people around him! Another funny moment I remember well was when I used to do Karate in the eighties and one of the Sensei's asked this Oriental guy where he came from and he said Brackley, which is a town in Northamptonshire! But old Ronnie was having none of that and kept asking if he was Chinese or Japanese, blah,blah,blah!
    JB
     
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  5. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Me neither! If it contradicts TOS I'm having none of it! ENT is part of another timeline as the past was altered by Future Guy and his allies who could have been the Romulans! :rommie:
    JB
     
  6. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Kang, now with ridges Premium Member

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    The only name used in TOS for "Romulans" is Romulan. So there's no contradiction.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Except of common sense. To anyone with a shred of classical education, it was obvious from the moment Spock mentioned "the twin planets Romulus and Remus" in "Balance of Terror" that the names must have been assigned by humans referring to Roman mythology. The idea that the alien names for a pair of twin planets would just happen to be identical to a pair of twins from human myth beggars belief.
     
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  8. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Kang, now with ridges Premium Member

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    The writers chose those names to invoke the Roman Empire. To give the viewers some context for who the Romulans are. I doubt the writers of that episode or Roddenberry when he named Vulcan intended those to be human assigned names. They sure didn't think we'd be overthinking their reasons some five decades down the line, because we're "uncomfortable" with the storytelling shorthand used back then.
     
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  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Of course that's what Paul Schneider intended for Romulus and Remus. Why wouldn't he? It's hardly a rare practice for English-speakers to use their own name for a foreign land or location rather than the indigenous name, e.g. India instead of Bharat or Mount McKinley instead of Denali. And astronomers have been naming stars and planets after figures from classical mythology for millennia, so it's natural that Schneider assumed they would continue to do so in the future.

    Besides, "Balance of Terror" stated clearly that humans and Romulans had very little contact. They never met face-to-face, so it stands to reason that they didn't have any significant cultural or anthropological exchange. In that context, it's entirely plausible that humans didn't even know the Romulans' name for themselves or their worlds. At no point in the episode do any of the Romulan characters utter the name "Romulan" or "Romulus"; only the Starfleet characters do.

    As for Vulcan, that was originally used by Urbain Le Verrier in the 19th century as the proposed name for a hypothetical planet closer to the Sun than Mercury, proposed to explain irregularities in Mercury's orbit but eventually debunked when General Relativity explained those irregularities instead. However, the planet continued to be featured in science fiction well after it was discredited in science. Given that Roddenberry's original proposal was that Spock was "probably half-Martian," he was evidently thinking of a Solar-planet origin for Spock when he started out. So I kind of suspect the original intent was for "Vulcan" to be Le Verrier's Vulcan, before it was settled that it should be an extrasolar planet.

    Also, I'm not sure it was Roddenberry who came up with the name "Vulcan," seeing that it wasn't established until "Mudd's Women" by Stephen Kandel.
     
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  10. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Kang, now with ridges Premium Member

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    There's nothing I'm aware of that establishes Roddenberry, Schneider or Kandel's thoughts on the naming of Planets and species. They named them Romulans and Vulcans in a way that was no different than when they named other species "Klingons", "Andorians" or "Troyians". (And you can't say that Troyius and Elaan weren't chosen for a particular association) You can cite real world naming conventions, but that that's just a rationalization to scratch a particular itch in fandom when it comes to aliens with human names. You're a writer, so you must know that writers chose certain words for particular reasons. Often to invoke a feeling or to give context to a character or place.
     
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  11. Tim Thomason

    Tim Thomason Commodore Commodore

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    Do you think Roddenberry really wanted Spock to be half-Martian? Or did he just write that to get the point across that Spock was to be (and look like) an extraterrestrial to the prospective producers?

    It looks like he was on a bit of a sci-fi kick when he proposed Star Trek and wrote that pitch and the first episode, so I would think he would know that a Martian alien would be too implausible with what they already knew.
     
  12. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Kang, now with ridges Premium Member

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    I don't think he was so deep into SF or real science to know at that point. Mars and Martians were still "in play" in SF at the time GR was developing Trek
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, and I just explained my reason for thinking that Paul Schneider had more reason to portray it as a human naming convention than as the people's indigenous name for themselves. The fact that only the human characters use the name is pretty telling. As I said, I don't see a single reason to doubt it.


    Here I agree with Nerys Myk. At the time, Martian aliens in sci-fi were still very commonplace. There were numerous different Martians in Twilight Zone and Outer Limits episodes. My Favorite Martian was a popular sitcom. Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles had been one of the most popular SF books of the previous decade. Dozens of B-movies featured aliens from Mars or astronauts exploring Mars.

    Of course, Mars was just his first-blush idea, not something he was firmly attached to. But my point is that it suggests that he was thinking in terms of aliens from Solar planets, of which there were still many in the SF of the day. So it's conceivable -- I say this not a an assertion of fact, but merely to express it as a possibility -- that whoever originally coined the name "Vulcan" for Spock's planet may have intended it to be the cis-Mercurian planet Vulcan proposed by Le Verrier. Indeed, it's not really until "Amok Time" that Vulcan is clearly established as being in a different star system from Earth (since they set course for Vulcan rather than for Sol).
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Humans would have a large variety of celestial twins to name when they ventured into deep space (or even back when they made telescopic observations of same). They would also have a more or less endless supply of twins or other pairs available for the purpose: Romulus and Remus, Abbot and Costello, William and Mary, Whistler and Mother...

    It wouldn't be impossible, then, that Romulus and Remus would get chosen out of this lot because they were the best match. The native name of the culture or political structure is now known, from ENT "Minefield". And since it happens to sound almost like this human word...

    Had the pointy-eared adversaries really been calling themselves the Rihannsu, humans would simply now be calling the two planets Rihanna and Jay-Z.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Finn

    Finn Vice Admiral Admiral

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    :cardie:

    Wow....must be hell of a backstory...especially if the Human parent is starfleet...
     
  16. Nakita Akita

    Nakita Akita Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Nope she is just Human and Yridian.
    Two species not three.:nyah:
     
  17. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Kang, now with ridges Premium Member

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    The episode is brimming Roman iconography. The bird of prey hull marking invokes the Roman Eagle, the standard of Roman Legions. The helmets (also used to hide the actors ears and eyebrows) are similar to Roman helmets. The uniforms are designed with elements of Roman togas in mind. Then you have two of the three names/title used by the key Romulan characters: the very Roman "Decius" and "Centurion". It's pretty clear to me that the name "Romulan" like those other words and props were chosen to invoke Space Romans. I doubt the idea of humans naming the Romulans occurred to the writer.
    Beyonce is gonna be pretty mad.
     
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  18. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

    And this all plays into how a major recurring conceit of the show was "parallel planets" that mimicked Earth in some fashion for various in-story reasons.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    As I've already said, humans giving classical names to astronomical bodies has been a commonplace practice for thousands of years, and English speakers giving their own names to other people's nations has been a commonplace practice for centuries too. It's ludicrous to imagine that any educated human being would be somehow unable to imagine something so incredibly routine. And frankly really insulting to Paul Schneider. If his imagination were that astonishingly deficient, there's no way he could've ever become a writer.

    And yes, of course Schneider called them Romulans because they paralleled Romans, but that doesn't require it to be their name for themselves; what matters is that it was his name for them, so he could've perfectly well chosen to have his human characters assign them a name that was appropriate for the impression he wanted to convey to the audience. Indeed, it would not be the only time in Star Trek that a human-assigned name for a world turns out to be coincidentally appropriate. For instance, Cestus III is named after the Latin word for a leather fighting glove used in the Roman arena, even though the founders of the colony in-universe could've had no way of knowing the planet would be involved in a story called "Arena." The humans who named the mythical planet Eden had no way of knowing it would literally turn out to have poisoned fruit that would kill some guy named Adam. Sometimes writers have humans give coincidentally appropriate names to things, because they care more about giving an impression to the audience than nitpicking the in-universe credibility of such names.
     
  20. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

    And sometimes writers themselves give coincidentally appropriate names to things, without giving any thought to whether in-universe humans named them, because they care more about giving an impression to the audience than nitpicking the in-universe credibility of such names.