Apparently, Spock's true name cannot be pronounced by humans (humanoids?). The same has been said of the Traveler's name.

Since Data is artificial, I wonder if he wouldn't be so limited. Though he was built by a human, and he's not even supposed to be able to speak contractions, so perhaps not.

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    Not able to speak contractions, or just not willing or habitually doesn't? When Lore was pretending to be Data and a contraction or two slipped out, they didn't immediately realise he was Lore.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Dec 11, 2015 at 1:54
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    @randal'thor Data does occasionally use contractions; I recall he mentions at some point though that he's never mastered them, which is why he doesn't normally use them ;) Dec 11, 2015 at 1:59
  • @N_Soong That would be a great question Dr Soong. Name instances when Mr Data said he never mastered contractions. Dec 11, 2015 at 2:14
  • Humanoids? What would be the point in giving your son a name his own people couldn't pronounce lol Aug 5, 2016 at 21:23
  • Obviously I meant non-Vulcan humanoids. Aug 6, 2016 at 3:02

2 Answers 2


The exact quote in question is the following:

LEILA: And this is for my good? Do you mind if I say I still love you? You never told me if you had another name, Mister Spock.

SPOCK: (wiping away her tears) You couldn't pronounce it.

From 'This Side of Paradise' (TOS)

The Memory Alpha page for Spock indicates his full name is generally unpronounceable to humans. I would postulate that it's probably a Vulcan name which humans (or at least English speakers) cannot pronounce because they don't know how to pronounce that particular phoneme. We see this occurring in different languages with sensitive/critical periods required to learn how to pronounce a certain phoneme and, if that period passes without learning it, one will never pronounce that phoneme properly (I can't find a reference or think of an example off the top of my head, but I'm sure I read that in some authoritative source; if you can think of one, please let me know in the comments!)

Looking at the question, we need to establish some of Data's known limitations. We know he has difficulty whistling (established in TNG 'Brothers). I refer you this answer and this answer which indicates that Data has a speech box, allowing him to speak whilst his head was detached from his body.

Having such a unit, it suggests to me (and I should know ;P) that, if the speech box were programmed to produce the necessary phonemes, then it should certainly be possible for Data to pronounce Spock's other name, as well as the Traveler's name.

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    I don't think language works than way. AFAIK, if you learn sounds or words passed the primary language acquisition age, then your brain "stores" them differently, and they can be more difficult to use or remember than your "natural" tongue, but practice can eliminate that. But, in a scenario of brief time, teaching someone a new phoneme or long, complicated word is probably difficult enough to say that they can't pronounce it (at that time, without practice).
    – user31178
    Jan 18, 2016 at 5:52
  • @WebHead - Maybe. But maybe not. Physiology can play a part too; if you grew up not using glottal stops or rolled 'R's you may find it physically hard, if not impossible to use them; you simply never learned the physical 'trick' to making the noise. Think of the stereotype issue of some asians and the letter 'l'. Now, add to that the possibility of minor physical differences (different hearing range, etc.) and it's quite possible that a human couldn't pronounce the name anymore than you could 'pronounce' bethoveen's fifth correctly (sounding like the instruments.)
    – K-H-W
    Sep 10, 2018 at 19:25

Data was able to speak fluent in Vulcan so I am pretty sure he has the ability to pronounce Mr.Spocks first name. Also the romulans would probably be able to seeing that they are the same as the Vulcan except they welcome their emotions.

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    Welcome to the site! This is a good start, but would be a great answer if you could back it up with some references, other than just an "I think" kind of thing.
    – JohnP
    Mar 27, 2018 at 14:48
  • The Romulus are descended from Vulcans, but their language is distinct. IDR where I read it, but it is a constructed language to distance themselves from the old Vulcan, which like any ancient language, is not entirely logical. Modern Vulcan dialect differs, of course, but it is not the same as Romulan. Sorry, comment only as I have no sources ATM.
    – Dúthomhas
    Sep 10, 2018 at 22:16

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