I like to read the various series wikias and guides as I go through a series I'd seen before, to pick up on stuff I may have missed. I ran across this on The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5 for A Voice in the Wilderness, Part 1:

I tried to develop a basic language structure for each of the races on B5. There are certain commonalities to the structure of names. I came up with some prefixes and suffixes, and assigned meanings to them, the same as real names. For instance, Rathenn (referred to by Delenn in "Voices") and Delenn have the same suffix, which has a specific meaning. You can break it down; Ner-oon (Legacies), Del-enn, Rath-enn, Der-onn, and so forth. The various parts do have specific meanings, but I generally keep that to myself, just for amusement.

Narn names follow a similar pattern, which I suspect has something to do with which Narn religion they/their parents followed. I remember thinking the G' in G'Kar's name may be because he's a follower of G'Quan, but it would also fit with G'Lan, so I'm no longer sure. (And if that were so, why would G'Quan and G'Lan's names follow the same pattern as modern Narn, anyway..?)

Has J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5 and who the quote above is from, ever revealed the meanings of all these prefixes/suffixes?

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    Nothing I've read about it indicates that he has revealed the meaning behind the names; I'm sure he (and others) are holding out hope that something happens with Babylon 5 in the future, so he may not be willing to let up some "trade secrets" of the show until everything is sufficiently off the table. As a note however, that might be helpful to understanding Narn names, they name themselves after maturity, and it is stated that G'Kar chose that name to indicate that he was a follower of G'Quan, though I can't recall it being revealed as to what aspect of his name shows his religious affinity.
    – NominSim
    Dec 24, 2012 at 20:08
  • @NominSim Ah, right - I completely forgot about them choosing their own name. That's probably the same scene that made me think religious affiliation is how Narn names work in general.
    – Izkata
    Dec 24, 2012 at 20:52
  • Good news! You might ask him. Mar 20, 2014 at 19:55
  • @ElliottFrisch I have now! I'm not normally a Slashdot user, would've completely missed this if you didn't find it - thanks!
    – Izkata
    Mar 21, 2014 at 0:08

1 Answer 1


In a word, and as of the date of writing of this, no.

When JMS published his script books, he included the original draft of The Gathering in the first volume, which shows how everything changed from his original notes (G'kar was originally written as Jeckarr, for instance) and in comments he makes mention that the naming convention and meanings were still evolving at that point. He does not, however, go into detail on each character or what the sounds actually mean.

There are several Q&A books he put out that I do not have access to, but it looks like they are mainly reprints of questions he was asked during the run of the show. Also, this is quite an old question, so I may be missing something. However, it is a very basic and straightforward question, and I think answers would have made their way online by now.

As he is still producing Babylon 5 material, and with his continuing successes even announced intentions to use that to start another movie in the universe (possibly a reboot), it's possible he may come back around and produce an answer to this.


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