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In Star Trek: Picard episode 2, "Maps and Legends", we met Commodore Oh who appears to be very high in (the head of?) Starfleet Security or Section 31.

Commodore Oh

Objects on her desk and her position indicate she is

posing as (or is) Vulcan and events of the episode demonstrate she is a Romulan (Zhat Vash) operative.

Now, what's unusual here is that her name is a typical Earth Korean name. (The actor's name, Tamlyn Tomita, appears to be of Japanese origin.)

So, how to we reconcile this?

  • "Asian" Vulcans have Earth Asian names? (Any precedent for this very un-Vulcan name at all or qualitatively different names in different Vulcan ethnicities?)

  • The character was named before it was decided to make her appearance Vulcan/Romulan, perhaps because two Romulans posing as humans would be repetitive?

  • The character is posing as part-Human / part-Vulcan and her name is Human?

  • ????


For what it's worth, here's a list of known named Vulcans. Their names are typically two syllables and start with S, T, or V. This is nothing like the consonant-free single-syllable Oh.

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  • That's a good question. O or Oh is a well-known surname in Korea. Cordwainer Smith, who had personal experience in China and many other countries, had a character named Dolores Oh in "The Burning of the Brain" in the distant future; he mentioned that the name was "Japonical." Feb 5, 2020 at 17:13
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    "Oh" is not exactly a complicated, unlikely phoneme, so coincidence is on the table (though I'm not sure how similar it is to typical Vulcan names). She could have been adopted, and taken the name of her adoptive parents. She could have taken an Earth-ish name in the belief that it would help her career, which happens often enough in real life. And writers, regardless of overall skill and effort, can be lazy or make mistakes. There's no shortage of ways to reconcile this, are you looking for a list of plausible options or looking specifically for an official explanation?
    – Upper_Case
    Feb 5, 2020 at 17:19
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    @Upper_Case: Guessing plausible explanations would be fairly opinion-based. We should find behind-the-scenes explanations, in-universe explanation, or precedent (for example other Vulcans whose names are similar in some plausible way) Feb 5, 2020 at 17:21
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    "You're a Commodore? Oh.".
    – Valorum
    Feb 5, 2020 at 23:15
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    It's possible the name is Osttshvatall(unpronounceable)talluiakekikekshvroniskok. However Vulcans with such names come up with an anglicization that is pronounceable to humans... Traditionally the two syllable thing, but even the first two syllables were a mess for the commodore's name, so just did the first letter. Around here, south Asians do that all the time. Feb 6, 2020 at 0:27

1 Answer 1

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+50

Michael Chabon (Picard showrunner) posted a video on Instagram answering some fan questions. Nothing about Oh's name origin in the video, but people asked many more questions in the comments section.

One question was directly related to the origin of Oh's name and race.

instagram question

And this was Mr Chabon's response.

instagram answer

So we can glean several things from this.

The name Oh is of Vulcan etymology, in particular its relation to the Vulcan word for eight, and there is a tale behind this name. Whether this is a tale of why her parents chose the name or why she chose it is still undisclosed at time of posting. But why someone would name themselves after a number is beyond me.....oh wait.... ummm.....

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seven of nine

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    Later episodes reveal why the number 8 would have such significance for her.
    – David K
    Apr 23, 2020 at 13:54

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