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Old 04-02-2016, 09:34 AM
Flyer Flyer is offline
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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?
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:09 PM
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As a race, the Ferengi must be from Batu Ferringhi on Penang, Malaysia.
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:11 PM
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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.
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:48 PM
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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:

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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.
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:53 PM
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"Khan" doesn't need any more explanation than "Jim" does. It's a pretty common, real-world name, albeit usually a surname.
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:00 PM
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"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.
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:02 PM
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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Jim.
Arguably the more accurate title!
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:23 PM
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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.
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Old 04-02-2016, 02:42 PM
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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.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by ekedolphin View Post
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."
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:07 PM
Walken After Midnight Walken After Midnight is offline
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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:
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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.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:42 PM
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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).
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:50 PM
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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."

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Old 04-02-2016, 08:04 PM
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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.)

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Old 04-02-2016, 08:22 PM
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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.
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Old 04-02-2016, 08:32 PM
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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.)
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Old 04-03-2016, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by terentii View Post
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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 01:15 PM
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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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 08:57 AM
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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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 01:16 PM
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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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 05:02 PM
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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."
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:10 AM
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After eliminating all the obvious straightforward explanations, they kludged together something about a genetic retrovirus in ST:E.
Fan-fic.
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Old 04-08-2016, 12:50 PM
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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.
Picard: What makes you think she's a doctor?
Worf: Well, she turned me into a Klingon
Picard: A Klingon?
Worf: {meekly, after a long pause} ... I got better.
Crew: {shouts} Burn her anyway!
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Old 04-03-2016, 02:09 PM
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 03:39 PM
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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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 10:02 PM
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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.

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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."
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Old 04-03-2016, 10:05 PM
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Re Chekhov / Chekov, you might want to ask Tschaikovskii about that.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:50 PM
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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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 09:23 AM
Walken After Midnight Walken After Midnight is offline
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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.
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Old 04-02-2016, 04:19 PM
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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.
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:05 PM
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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.
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:07 PM
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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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 08:38 AM
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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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 09:01 AM
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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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 09:17 AM
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Loanword, anyway.
So is "Rom", not to mention two thirds of all other words in the English language.
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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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 04:56 PM
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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.
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:12 PM
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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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 04:40 PM
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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.
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Old 04-03-2016, 04:49 PM
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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")
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Old 04-03-2016, 05:07 PM
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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.
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Old 04-11-2016, 01:03 PM
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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.
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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.
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Originally Posted by Steve MB View Post
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.
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Originally Posted by terentii View Post
"Kludge" is a very apt term.
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I liked Worf's answer in Trials and Tribble-ations: "We do not speak of it with outsiders."
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Yes. A joke by the writers, of course. The only non-absurd actual answer is that Klingons always had ridges.
My (very non-canon) take on it was that the scheming Klingons of TOS were soft, civilized city Klingons. I can only presume that they were violently supplanted by a fiercer Klingon race of the steppes or mountains, with manly brow ridges to go with their notions of directness, war, and honor. I imagine that the "civilized" Klingons are kept on a short leash, working hard in the engine rooms, dry-docks, laboratories, and mines. (Yes, I know that this view contradicts rare sightings of Klingon engineers on TNG, who seem to have brow ridges. Maybe he was a "boss" engineer whose main job was to watch the shifty guys doing the real work?)
  #42  
Old 04-11-2016, 01:19 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is online now
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Originally Posted by Blue Blistering Barnacle View Post
My (very non-canon) take on it was that the scheming Klingons of TOS were soft, civilized city Klingons. I can only presume that they were violently supplanted by a fiercer Klingon race of the steppes or mountains, with manly brow ridges to go with their notions of directness, war, and honor.
That still does not explain Kang having a smooth forehead in TOS and ridges in DS9.
  #43  
Old 04-11-2016, 01:35 PM
Blue Blistering Barnacle Blue Blistering Barnacle is offline
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That still does not explain Kang having a smooth forehead in TOS and ridges in DS9.
Yeah, I know, I saw that comment. Myself, I'm not up on the fine details.

FWIW, any explanation for this mess is going to have holes. I'll just once again point out that the Klingons show significantly different behaviors going from TOS to later iterations. I suppose that could also be explained by a "retrovirus" (a "retcon virus", if you will), but frankly, IMHO they seem to have morphed into something very much like a nomadic pre-industrial tribe in command of starships.
  #44  
Old 04-11-2016, 02:34 PM
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I did not like the fan fic episode of Enterprise that wasted time explaining it.
The program was improving and just hit it's stride when it was canceled from the loser episodes.
  #45  
Old 04-09-2016, 09:21 AM
Haldurson Haldurson is offline
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One thing that has always bothered me (and this is not isolated to Star Trek, or even science fiction) is the use of the word 'race' instead of 'species'. Traditionally, 'race' is a semi-arbitrary designation for someone of the same species to designate a difference either in appearance or heritage (a lot of it is arbitrary because genetically, things are a lot more complicated than common usage would lead you to believe, but that's beyond this discussion). In any case, outside of science fiction and fantasy, we do not even use the term 'race' when talking about non-human species (we don't say that poodles are a different race from Irish setters).

So why is it in fantasy and science fiction that we call unrelated intelligent species as being of a separate 'race'?

And even more troubling (at least to me), why is it that we accept that humanity is extremely diverse, with many cultures, and yet in so much science fiction and fantasy, these 'races' seem to be characterized in such simplistic terms (war-like Klingons, evil Romulans/Orcs, good dwarves/elves, etc.)

I find it to be quite troubling. Either it illustrates a theme, whether intentional or not, of racism or prejudice, or it shows a distinct laziness.

Last edited by Haldurson; 04-09-2016 at 09:23 AM.
  #46  
Old 04-09-2016, 01:19 PM
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One thing that has always bothered me (and this is not isolated to Star Trek, or even science fiction) is the use of the word 'race' instead of 'species'.
Perhaps it is futuristic PC.
  #47  
Old 04-09-2016, 03:16 PM
terentii terentii is offline
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Is not the term "the human race" in common parlance?

Homo sapiens is the species.
  #48  
Old 04-09-2016, 03:18 PM
terentii terentii is offline
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I find it to be quite troubling. Either it illustrates a theme, whether intentional or not, of racism or prejudice, or it shows a distinct laziness.
You obviously have a lot of free time on your hands....
  #49  
Old 04-09-2016, 04:41 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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After the end of the second season (TOS), the Romulans supposedly entered into an alliance with the Klingons against the Federation. This meant they were armed with Klingon ships and materiel, which was a vast improvement over their impulse-driven warships (the original birds of prey).
Was this ever stated in the show, or just used as a post-hoc explanation?

Quote:
In reality, it probably had more to do with saving money on ship models and opticals. So far as I know, nothing much ever happened with the alliance (at least, outside of the many ST novels, which I've made a point of not reading for the last thirty-odd years).
Yes, saving money, which is why nothing ever happened with it beyond the TV episodes using one ship for both groups.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Haldurson View Post
And even more troubling (at least to me), why is it that we accept that humanity is extremely diverse, with many cultures, and yet in so much science fiction and fantasy, these 'races' seem to be characterized in such simplistic terms (war-like Klingons, evil Romulans/Orcs, good dwarves/elves, etc.)
From a story-telling standpoint, SF is typically using different aliens to examine human issues. As such, simplifying one culture to an entire species is really just filling in for one nation or one culture on Earth. Thus the monocultures of all aliens, versus the diversity of hoo-mons.

There is more diversity in some written SF, where those themes are examined in greater detail.
  #50  
Old 04-09-2016, 05:03 PM
terentii terentii is offline
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Was this ever stated in the show, or just used as a post-hoc explanation?
It was noted specifically in The Making of Star Trek, which predated the start of the third season. It was referenced obliquely in "The Enterprise Incident."

SPOCK: Intelligence reports Romulans now using Klingon design.
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