The title of this fine gentleman with the majestic earlobes is "The Grand Nagus" (note the spelling):

enter image description here

Until recently, I always assumed his title was "The Grand Negus", in order to match the English spelling and human definition of Negus:

Wikipedia: Negus - Negus is a royal title in the Ethiopian Semitic languages. 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.

Is there a reason for this difference in spelling, or is the similarity to the word to Negus just a coincidence?

  • 5
    “Is there a reason for this difference in spelling” — yes. They’re Ferengi. They spell differently to Ethiopians. – Paul D. Waite Sep 4 '15 at 9:01
  • 1
    @PaulD.Waite Both Ferengian and Ehtiopian spelling is irrelevant due to the universal translators. Nagus is neither the Ferengian spelling nor the pronunciation, it's the English translation as performed by the Universal Translators. – IQAndreas Sep 4 '15 at 16:15
  • 1
    They probably changed the spelling because the Ferengi are already seen by some as politically incorrect Jewish caricatures and they didn't want to make the connection between them and any "Semitic" peoples any more obvious. – ApproachingDarknessFish Oct 30 '16 at 21:42
  • @ApproachingDarknessFish - They don’t seem to particularly resemble standard anti-Semitic caricatures to me. Well, I suppose they’re obsessed with commerce, which is certainly a feature of stereotypes about Jews, but besides that, is there anything else? No kippot, no beards, no payot, no long nose…they definitely seem to lack the common ones. – Adamant Oct 31 '16 at 0:54
  • 1
    @Adamant No, not in terms of the character design. Mostly seems that way to me because the majority of Ferengi actors are Jewish in real life, combined the obsession with commerce you mentioned. Not caricatures, I suppose, just... a line can be drawn. – ApproachingDarknessFish Oct 31 '16 at 1:49

No confirmed evidence

There does not appear to be an official statement from any of the DS9 creative staff confirming that "Grand Nagus" comes from "Grand Negus".

It does, however, stand to reason that they would be connected.

Spelling vs. transliteration

Since the question is focused on spelling, it should be pointed out that "negus" is a transliteration of an Ethiopian word, and so "negus" is simply a preferred English spelling.

Nickname of Star Trek director David Livingston

Finally, it is interesting to note that "Nagus" was the nickname of David Livingston, the director of the DS9 episode "The Nagus", according to The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Whether he was nicknamed before or after directing the episode is not stated. It is known that DS9 director of photography Marvin Rush used to call Livingston "the Nagus", which is fitting as Livingston is Star Trek's most prolific director, having directed over 60 Star Trek episodes in the TNG era. It could be that his nickname (and its spelling) influenced the title of the character (or vice-versa).

| improve this answer | |
  • Feel free to add in parts from my answer if you wish to - mine wasn't enough to stand up as an answer on its own :-) – Often Right Sep 4 '15 at 7:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.