It's time to play Guess The Human!
Here's a list of characters mentioned in The Uplift War

Athaclena, Ma'chutallil, Mathicluanna, Oshoyoythuna, Oth'thushutn, Prathachulthorn, Thlufallthreela, Uthacalthing

Seven are Tymbrimi and one is human. I doubt you can tell which is the human unless you have read the book. (Pick one before spoiling yourself.)

Answer: It's Prathachulthorn

All the names are four or five syllables and all contain the sound th.

Furthermore, the character in question's name is not typically

South Asian

as described (although I guess the first syllable or two are not terribly unusual for that culture).

Is there an explanation for this choice of name in- or out-of-universe?

  • Being one of the first extra-terrestrial races met by Humanity, and with the Tymbrimi being an ally of Humanity, I can see names moving from one species to another with prolonged interaction. Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 18:41
  • @Thaddeus: Plausible, but needs evidence. Is there any? Brin usually makes offhand remarks in the text about things like this that he intends but doesn't want to go into. Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 19:56
  • Not enough time left in my day to do the research for a question like this one. Good luck. I hope you can find a satisfying answer... Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 20:09
  • I always thought Prathaculthorn was meant to be from India or therebouts. To Americans, "South Asian" tends to mean Cambodia, Vietnam, etc., while to the Brits I think it means India and surrounding countries.
    – Joe L.
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 23:14
  • @JoeL. I don't know this canon but Prathaculthorn sounds nothing like any existant South Asian or South East Asian name, to my knowledge.
    – Shisa
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 4:30

1 Answer 1


While chatting with my very good friend David Brin, I found a moment to ask your question. The short answer is that Prathaculthorn's name is not Tymbrimi, in fact it's a traditionally Thai name, or at least a Westernised version thereof.

@Answerguesser - Quick Uplift question:
Why does Prathachulthorn have such an obviously Tymbrimi name?

@DavidBrin - Heh! Well, in fact, Tymbrimi names are kinda like those in Thailand.... ;-)

  • Wow! It's great that you know him and asked. But I don't know what to make of that answer. It kind of seems like his answer was flip or a joke, especially with the smiley. So I don't really know if this is a real answer or not. Commented May 13, 2015 at 14:49
  • @Thepopmachine - I think it was intended seriously. The name sounds a bit Thai.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 15:08
  • Hmmm. I didn't buy it until I read this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… "There are no common Thai surnames. Surnames were largely introduced to Thai culture only by the 1913 Surname Act.[18] The law is not allow to create any surname that duplicated with any existing surnames.[19] Under Thai law, only one family can create any given surname: any two people of the same surname must be related, and it is very rare for two people to share the same full name. In one sample of 45,665 names, 81% of family names were unique.[20]" Commented May 13, 2015 at 15:15
  • And see cpp.edu/~pronunciation/thai.html Commented May 13, 2015 at 15:15
  • ....So the bottom line is, he seems to be saying it is a coincidence that Thai and Tymbrimi names are similar. Commented May 13, 2015 at 15:16

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