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Flyer 04-02-2016 10:34 AM

Alien names in Star Trek
 
Does anyone know whether the Star Trek writers had any main theme or source of inspiration for the names of the various individual aliens?

I've thought for some time that some alien names in Star Trek--particularly Cardassian names--bear a striking resemblance to real-life Turkish names.

I'm linking to this article, not because of the subject of it, but because this is one of the best examples I've seen.
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...bles-on-refug/

These are names of actual Turkish people mentioned in the article--Can Dundar; Erdem Gul; Burak Bekdil. Don't those sound just like Cardassian names?

toast pakora 04-02-2016 01:09 PM

As a race, the Ferengi must be from Batu Ferringhi on Penang, Malaysia.

Mangetout 04-02-2016 01:11 PM

Dunno. Looking at this list of Bajoran, Cardassian, Ferengi and Klingon names, i'd be hard pressed to sort them back into groups by race if the were mixed up except probably some of the Klingon ones that have apostrophes in them)

Seems like they just went for names composed of syllables that were alien/uncommon to English. Maybe that just coincidentally aligned with Turkish or other name sounds.

Walken After Midnight 04-02-2016 01:48 PM

The word firangi is used in both the Persian and the Hindi/Urdu languages to describe a European/Western/white foreigner.

Persian:

Quote:

فرنگی • ‎(Farangi) ‎(plural فرنگیها ‎(Farangi-hâ))
1. (dated) French
2. (dated) Christian
3. European, westerner
Hindi/Urdu:

Quote:

firangi ‎(plural firangis or firangi)
(India, Britain, Pakistan) A foreigner, especially a British or a white person.
According to an internet answer (which doesn't allow itself to be linked to from an external site, for some reason), the term "seems to have emerged in Arabic during the Crusades. It was specifically used to represent the Roman Catholic world originating from the word Frankish, meaning French". It also mentions associated words in other languages: frangos in Greek and al-Faranj in Arabic.

Then, of course, there's Khan and khan:

Quote:

khan

1. (in the Altaic group of languages) a title held by hereditary rulers or tribal chiefs.

2. the supreme ruler of the Tatar tribes, as well as emperor of China, during the Middle Ages: a descendant of Genghis Khan.

3. a title of respect used in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and other countries of Asia.

Miller 04-02-2016 01:53 PM

"Khan" doesn't need any more explanation than "Jim" does. It's a pretty common, real-world name, albeit usually a surname.

Walken After Midnight 04-02-2016 02:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Miller (Post 19229144)
"Khan" doesn't need any more explanation than "Jim" does. It's a pretty common, real-world name, albeit usually a surname.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Jim. :D

Miller 04-02-2016 02:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Walken After Midnight (Post 19229157)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Jim. :D

Arguably the more accurate title!

JRDelirious 04-02-2016 02:23 PM

TOS established a few conventions that TNG and later mostly gve up -- Vulcan male names all starting with S, Klingon male names all with K; Vulcan female names starting with T' did stick around longer.

ekedolphin 04-02-2016 03:42 PM

Anyone else find it interesting that aside from humans, Star Trek race names are all capitalized? Cardassians, Bajorans, Klingons, Romulans. But in, say, the Mass Effect universe and Dungeons and Dragons, they're all lower-case. There's asari, turians, krogan, quarians, elves, dwarves, et cetera.

Miller 04-02-2016 04:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ekedolphin (Post 19229323)
Anyone else find it interesting that aside from humans, Star Trek race names are all capitalized? Cardassians, Bajorans, Klingons, Romulans. But in, say, the Mass Effect universe and Dungeons and Dragons, they're all lower-case. There's asari, turians, krogan, quarians, elves, dwarves, et cetera.

That's because all the races in Star Trek have the same name as their home planet - Cardassians come from Cardassia, Vulcans come from Vulcan, Bajorans come from Bajor, etc. Klingons are the only exception I can think of. Well, and humans, of course.

The aliens in Mass Effect don't follow that naming convention - turians are from Palaven, asari are from Thessia, and so on. Same with elves and dwarves in most better quality D&D settings - their homelands are usually something with a bunch of extra "y"s and extraneous apostrophes, not "Elfland" and "Dwarfland."

Walken After Midnight 04-02-2016 04:07 PM

Also, the Ferengi are ruled by a "Grand Nagus", which may or may not have been inspired by the Ethiopian Semitic royal title negus. According to wiki:
Quote:

It denotes a monarch such as the Bahri Negus of the Medri Bahri in pre-1890 Eritrea and the Negus in pre-1974 Ethiopia. The title has subsequently been used to translate the words "king" or "emperor" in Biblical and other literature.

RealityChuck 04-02-2016 04:42 PM

The original series -- no. They weren't very good with names, anyway: Uhura was based on the Swahili word for freedom, and was chosen primarily because there was a best seller "Urhuru" that came out a year or two. The guy from Scotland was called "Scott," the guy from Ireland was "Riley" (close to "O'Reilly," the vaudeville name for any generic Irishman), the guy from Russia was named after one of Russia's greatest writers. There couldn't have been a lot of thought put into it and there are many examples of lazy names throughout the show -- Khan, Elaan of Troius (for God's sake).

The "Romulans" clearly came from "Romulus," the founder of Rome. I've also heard stories that the name was chosen because they meant Klingons, but forgot what they had called the Klingons (or vice versa).

The Other Waldo Pepper 04-02-2016 04:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flyer (Post 19228756)
Turkish people mentioned in the article--Can Dundar; Erdem Gul; Burak Bekdil. Don't those sound just like Cardassian names?

It feels like someone should mention Kim Kardashian.

cochrane 04-02-2016 05:19 PM

I've noticed the Ferengi in Deep Space Nine all have names that sound like common English words. Quark, Rom, Nog, Brunt. Well except for the Grand Nagus, Zek.

Broomstick 04-02-2016 06:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Miller (Post 19229359)
That's because all the races in Star Trek have the same name as their home planet - Cardassians come from Cardassia, Vulcans come from Vulcan, Bajorans come from Bajor, etc. Klingons are the only exception I can think of. Well, and humans, of course.

There were a few instances of, if I recall, Klingons calling humans "Earthers".

Frankly, given the times I'm surprised the Old Series did as well as it did with names and races. Later series have less excuse.

Chronos 04-02-2016 06:12 PM

Babylon 5 also used "Earthers" for humans. Well, at least some nonhuman characters did-- I can't remember if it was a general convention. And some works use "Terrans" (which means the same thing) in the same way.

cochrane 04-02-2016 08:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Broomstick (Post 19229575)
There were a few instances of, if I recall, Klingons calling humans "Earthers".

Frankly, given the times I'm surprised the Old Series did as well as it did with names and races. Later series have less excuse.

Also, when Spock was a child on Vulcan, the Vulcan children called him "Earther." Not in the actual series, but in TAS episode "Yesteryear" and in the first Abrams movie, I believe.

terentii 04-02-2016 08:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RealityChuck (Post 19229427)
The original series -- no. They weren't very good with names, anyway: Uhura was based on the Swahili word for freedom, and was chosen primarily because there was a best seller "Urhuru" that came out a year or two. The guy from Scotland was called "Scott," the guy from Ireland was "Riley" (close to "O'Reilly," the vaudeville name for any generic Irishman), the guy from Russia was named after one of Russia's greatest writers. There couldn't have been a lot of thought put into it and there are many examples of lazy names throughout the show -- Khan, Elaan of Troius (for God's sake).

The "Romulans" clearly came from "Romulus," the founder of Rome. I've also heard stories that the name was chosen because they meant Klingons, but forgot what they had called the Klingons (or vice versa).

Scott and Riley are common surnames in Scotland and Ireland, respectively. They actually ordered some Scott tartan (from Scotland) for Scotty's dress uniform.

They misspelled Chekov's surname. The author's is Chekhov. In more than 40 years of dealing with the Russian language, I have yet to encounter any native speaker who spells it with a k instead of a kh.

Romulus and Remus formed the double planet system first mentioned in "Balance of Terror," early in the first season. We didn't get to see any Remans until one of the TNG movies. IIRC, they evolved somewhat differently from the Romulans, who were an offshoot of the Vulcan race. In one of James Blish's books, it was mentioned that no one in the Federation was sure what their own name for themselves was.

I believe the Klingons were created by Gene Coon, late in the first season. They first appeared in "Errand of Mercy." IIRC, it was noted in Star Trek Creator that the name came from Robert Klingon, an officer who served with Gene Roddenberry in the LAPD.

In "Charlie X," McCoy refers to own race as "Earthlings," rather than "Earthers" or "Terrans."

terentii 04-02-2016 09:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terentii (Post 19229906)
Romulus and Remus formed the double planet system first mentioned in "Balance of Terror," early in the first season. We didn't get to see any Remans until one of the TNG movies. IIRC, they evolved somewhat differently from the Romulans, who were an offshoot of the Vulcan race. In one of James Blish's books, it was mentioned that no one in the Federation was sure what their own name for themselves was.

It was also indicated in The Making of Star Trek that the names Romulus and Remus were bestowed on them because their culture bore similarities to that of Ancient Rome. (How this was determined in an era when no human or ally had ever seen a Romulan either up close or ship-to-ship was not explained.)

terentii 04-02-2016 09:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terentii (Post 19229906)
I believe the Klingons were created by Gene Coon, late in the first season. They first appeared in "Errand of Mercy."

According to David Gerrold, the makeup used for the Klingons was inconsistent the second time they appeared (in "The Trouble with Tribbles"). Ruth Berman explained this in one of her short stories by saying they obviously belonged to different races of the same species, which is entirely logical.

The cranial ridges used in and after TNG could likewise have easily been explained by the Empire being made up of many different species, all of whom are considered Klingons.

terentii 04-02-2016 09:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terentii (Post 19229982)
According to David Gerrold, the makeup used for the Klingons was inconsistent the second time they appeared (in "The Trouble with Tribbles"). Ruth Berman explained this in one of her short stories by saying they obviously belonged to different races of the same species, which is entirely logical.

Actually, I need to check this. The first piece of information may have been in Berman's short story as well, rather than in one of Gerrold's books. (After thinking about it, I'm pretty sure it was.)

cochrane 04-03-2016 01:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terentii (Post 19229982)
According to David Gerrold, the makeup used for the Klingons was inconsistent the second time they appeared (in "The Trouble with Tribbles"). Ruth Berman explained this in one of her short stories by saying they obviously belonged to different races of the same species, which is entirely logical.

The cranial ridges used in and after TNG could likewise have easily been explained by the Empire being made up of many different species, all of whom are considered Klingons.

Wasn't the first appearance of Klingons with brow ridges in Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, right at the beginning when their ship is destroyed by V'Ger? One of them was played by Mark Lenard, who also played Spock's father and was the Romulan commander in Balance of Terror.

psychonaut 04-03-2016 09:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cochrane (Post 19229493)
I've noticed the Ferengi in Deep Space Nine all have names that sound like common English words. Quark, Rom, Nog, Brunt. Well except for the Grand Nagus, Zek.

FWIW, I wouldn't consider any of the first four words to be particularly common. "Zek", while even less common, is also an English word, at least according to the OED. It defines it as a person confined in a Soviet prison or gulag.

Steve MB 04-03-2016 09:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terentii (Post 19229982)
The cranial ridges used in and after TNG could likewise have easily been explained by the Empire being made up of many different species, all of whom are considered Klingons.

The problem with that theory is that several Klingon characters who had appeared in ST:TOS (no ridges) appeared in ST:DS9 (with ridges).

After eliminating all the obvious straightforward explanations, they kludged together something about a genetic retrovirus in ST:E.

smiling bandit 04-03-2016 10:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by psychonaut (Post 19230722)
FWIW, I wouldn't consider any of the first four words to be particularly common. "Zek", while even less common, is also an English word, at least according to the OED. It defines it as a person confined in a Soviet prison or gulag.

Loanword, anyway. I doubt you'll ever see it outside of Solzhenitsyn.

psychonaut 04-03-2016 10:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smiling bandit (Post 19230754)
Loanword, anyway.

So is "Rom", not to mention two thirds of all other words in the English language.
Quote:

I doubt you'll ever see it outside of Solzhenitsyn.
That's where you're most likely to see it, though the OED also cites uses in The Guardian Weekly and in the works of crime novelist T. J. Binyon.

Walken After Midnight 04-03-2016 10:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Other Waldo Pepper (Post 19229442)
It feels like someone should mention Kim Kardashian.

While the Cardassians appeared in Star Trek three years before Kim's father, the lawyer Robert Kardashian, gained wider prominence with the O.J. Simpson trial, it seems such a distinctive name that I wouldn't be surprised if there was a link - Kardashian was from California. Or, Kardashian being an Armenian surname, it could have come from some other non-famous Armenian or Armenian-American.

The name of the Cardassians also reminds me of the Circassians, a people from the Black Sea region, not too far from Armenia, who were mostly expelled from their homeland by the Russians in the 19th century and who subsequently took refuge in the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

terentii 04-03-2016 02:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cochrane (Post 19230323)
Wasn't the first appearance of Klingons with brow ridges in Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, right at the beginning when their ship is destroyed by V'Ger? One of them was played by Mark Lenard, who also played Spock's father and was the Romulan commander in Balance of Terror.

You may be right. I remember the makeup was heavier, but I don't recall cranial ridges specifically. I need to see the movie again.

terentii 04-03-2016 02:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve MB (Post 19230743)
The problem with that theory is that several Klingon characters who had appeared in ST:TOS (no ridges) appeared in ST:DS9 (with ridges).

After eliminating all the obvious straightforward explanations, they kludged together something about a genetic retrovirus in ST:E.

"Kludge" is a very apt term.

RealityChuck 04-03-2016 03:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terentii (Post 19229906)
Scott and Riley are common surnames in Scotland and Ireland, respectively.

My point exactly. They chose common surnames because they didn't go to the trouble to use an uncommon one.

Quote:

They misspelled Chekov's surname. The author's is Chekhov. In more than 40 years of dealing with the Russian language, I have yet to encounter any native speaker who spells it with a k instead of a kh.
So not only are they unoriginal, they can't spell either.

Quote:

Romulus and Remus formed the double planet system first mentioned in "Balance of Terror," early in the first season.
So? The planets were named that way. Still unoriginal. Why not, say Chaing and Eng? Viola and Sebastian? Again, they put the least amount of thought possible when coining the names.

Quote:

I believe the Klingons were created by Gene Coon, late in the first season. They first appeared in "Errand of Mercy." IIRC, it was noted in Star Trek Creator that the name came from Robert Klingon, an officer who served with Gene Roddenberry in the LAPD.
Maybe, but can you confirm or deny the story that they named one group of aliens and planned to use them again, but chose a different name?

And they used "earthling" for "Charlie X"? The term was horribly dated in science fiction at that point; no one in the literature used it.

mbh 04-03-2016 04:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RealityChuck (Post 19231250)
And they used "earthling" for "Charlie X"? The term was horribly dated in science fiction at that point; no one in the literature used it.

Yeah, but science fiction movies are often a decade or two behind the literature, and TV shows even further behind. We are lucky that they used "communicators" instead of "spaceographs". :)

In the literature for the Star Trek role-playing game (or maybe the Starfleet Battles wargame [I don't remember--I browsed through a rulebook once, and never played either game.]), it was claimed that the Romulan names for their homeworlds were difficult for English-speakers to pronounce, and "Romulus" and "Remus" were approximations.

Tim R. Mortiss 04-03-2016 05:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chronos (Post 19229584)
Babylon 5 also used "Earthers" for humans. Well, at least some nonhuman characters did-- I can't remember if it was a general convention. And some works use "Terrans" (which means the same thing) in the same way.

There was one blue-skinned alien (an Andorian maybe?) on Enterprise who liked to call the humans "pink-skins." It was a recurring character played by Jeffery Combs.

Broomstick 04-03-2016 05:49 PM

Yep, that was an Andorrian.

It works great if most or all of the Humans such an alien interacts with are Caucasians, but sort of falls apart when said alien meets Humans of African descent. Then again, most Star Trek aliens, particularly Old Series, were remarkably uniform in appearance. It wasn't until much later we saw racial variations in the major races. The one time in TOS we saw "racial variations" it was a plot anvil ("Let That Be Your Last Battlefield")

cochrane 04-03-2016 05:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by psychonaut (Post 19230722)
FWIW, I wouldn't consider any of the first four words to be particularly common. "Zek", while even less common, is also an English word, at least according to the OED. It defines it as a person confined in a Soviet prison or gulag.

YMMV. I feel the average person knows the meaning of quark and brunt. There's also nog, as in the popular holiday drink. And most people who are familiar with computers can define Rom as read-only memory.

cochrane 04-03-2016 06:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve MB (Post 19230743)
The problem with that theory is that several Klingon characters who had appeared in ST:TOS (no ridges) appeared in ST:DS9 (with ridges).

After eliminating all the obvious straightforward explanations, they kludged together something about a genetic retrovirus in ST:E.

I liked Worf's answer in Trials and Tribble-ations: "We do not speak of it with outsiders."

Peremensoe 04-03-2016 06:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cochrane (Post 19231640)
I liked Worf's answer in Trials and Tribble-ations: "We do not speak of it with outsiders."

Yes. A joke by the writers, of course. The only non-absurd actual answer is that Klingons always had ridges.

cochrane 04-03-2016 06:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terentii (Post 19231159)
You may be right. I remember the makeup was heavier, but I don't recall cranial ridges specifically. I need to see the movie again.

Here's the opening scene from the motion picture. The brow ridges are quite prominent on the Klingon characters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbG3N51MEjM&app=desktop

Also, Kruge and the other Klingons had brow ridges in 1984's The Search for Spock, which also predates TNG.

terentii 04-03-2016 11:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RealityChuck (Post 19231250)
Maybe, but can you confirm or deny the story that they named one group of aliens and planned to use them again, but chose a different name?

Nope. Never heard of this at all.

Quote:

And they used "earthling" for "Charlie X"? The term was horribly dated in science fiction at that point; no one in the literature used it.
Watch the episode. McCoy uses it when he rejects the possibility of Charlie being an alien masquerading as a human. To the best of my recollection: "Not unless they're exactly like Earthlings. The development of his digits exactly matches that of Man on Earth."

Trinopus 04-03-2016 11:05 PM

Re Chekhov / Chekov, you might want to ask Tschaikovskii about that.

terentii 04-03-2016 11:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Trinopus (Post 19232270)
Re Chekhov / Chekov, you might want to ask Tschaikovskii about that.

Chaikovskii is cognate with Chekhov? :dubious:

CalMeacham 04-04-2016 09:57 AM

Two of the things I came in to observe, the Ferengi and their Grand Negus, have already been mentioned.


It's pretty clear to me that in The Original Series they left writers to pretty much make up their own names. Aside from a discussion about what Vulcan names should be (mostly "beginning with Sp- and ending with -k", leading to a hilarious interchange of memos that's reproduced in the book The Making of Star Trek*), I don't recall reading anything dictating alien names. The aforementioned "Elaan of Troyius" shows what can happen.

Another example is "Mr. Atoz" the librarian in "All Our Yesterdays". It took me years to realize that his name is simply "Mr. A to Z", rendered simply as "Atoz".


















*They didn't stick with the "p", but kept the "S' at the beginning and "k" at the end, witness Sarek, Saavik, etc.

Totenfeier 04-05-2016 08:17 AM

Has anyone else noticed that, if an alien race is friendly to us, they will usually pronounce the name of our species as we do, "Hyoo-m(schwa)n," but if they are more on the hostile side, it will be more like "Hoo-mon"?

(I suppose that, if they were addressing Scotty, it would be "Hoot Mon!"):D

psychonaut 04-05-2016 08:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Totenfeier (Post 19235383)
Has anyone else noticed that, if an alien race is friendly to us, they will usually pronounce the name of our species as we do, "Hyoo-m(schwa)n," but if they are more on the hostile side, it will be more like "Hoo-mon"?

I thought the "hoo-mon" pronunciation was specific to the Ferengi. Have you noticed this with any other races?

Totenfeier 04-05-2016 09:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by psychonaut (Post 19235425)
I thought the "hoo-mon" pronunciation was specific to the Ferengi. Have you noticed this with any other races?

The Nausicaan who stabs Picard through the heart in TNG ("Tapestry") calls him that - or at least something very similar.

terentii 04-05-2016 03:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by psychonaut (Post 19235425)
I thought the "hoo-mon" pronunciation was specific to the Ferengi. Have you noticed this with any other races?

Doesn't Saavik (half Vulcan, half Romulan) say "hoo-mon" when talking to Spock about Kirk in Wrath of Khan?

Grestarian 04-06-2016 03:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CalMeacham (Post 19232871)
Aside from a discussion about what Vulcan names should be ... I don't recall reading anything dictating alien names. The aforementioned "Elaan of Troyius" shows what can happen.

This keeps getting mentioned as an example of lay name-creation. It always seemed to me that, if you're trying to write a SciFi future homage to ancient Greek classics (and stick your slut-of-a-ship-captain in the middle of it) you need to somehow reference the original tales so viewers who aren't schooled in The Classics can get some kind of a clue--if they bother to look for it.

IOW: I don't think that was a lazy mistake; it was a hint.


--G!

CalMeacham 04-06-2016 03:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Grestarian (Post 19239248)
This keeps getting mentioned as an example of lay name-creation. It always seemed to me that, if you're trying to write a SciFi future homage to ancient Greek classics (and stick your slut-of-a-ship-captain in the middle of it) you need to somehow reference the original tales so viewers who aren't schooled in The Classics can get some kind of a clue--if they bother to look for it.

IOW: I don't think that was a lazy mistake; it was a hint.


--G!

It's not a hint. It's a sledgehammer.

Tim R. Mortiss 04-06-2016 06:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Totenfeier (Post 19235519)
The Nausicaan who stabs Picard through the heart in TNG ("Tapestry") calls him that - or at least something very similar.

Just saw that episode last night, DVRed from BBC America. It sounded to me like the Nausicaan said "Hyoo-Monn."

Totenfeier 04-07-2016 07:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tim R. Mortiss (Post 19239829)
Just saw that episode last night, DVRed from BBC America. It sounded to me like the Nausicaan said "Hyoo-Monn."

I cede the rightness of your answer; it was a hybrid. It's been several centuries since I last saw the episode, myself...

:D

JRDelirious 04-07-2016 08:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CalMeacham (Post 19239298)
It's not a hint. It's a sledgehammer.

In the best Trek tradition, they communicate a message by wrapping the note around a wrecking ball.


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