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In Star Trek, originally, there was a rule about Vulcan names. Male Vulcan names were 5 letters (in English, not Vulcan) and started with an "S" and ended with a "K" (like Spock, Sarek, or Surak). Female Vulcan names started with "T'P", such as T'Pring and T'Pau. I read a few memos discussing this in Stephen E. Whitfield's The Making of Star Trek.

Obviously, this allows for a limited number of male names (but the number of female names is almost unlimited). As best I can find, all the Vulcan names from The Original Series follow these naming rules. But, also obviously, names like Tuvok do not.

I doubt there's any in-universe logic to this, but at some point Trek writers must have felt the need to drop the original concept of specific spelling (or phonetic) rules for Vulcan names.

Was this ever discussed in any interviews or brought up? When did this change happen and is there any information on who made this change?

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I don't think the naming convention was ever as strict as you're suggesting. Almost from the beginning, there are exceptions - for example Stonn, from 'Amok Time', does not have a name ending in 'k', and Saavik more closely meets the male naming convention than the female one.

Some suggested explanations from extended canon are:

  • that the T' prefix merely means 'of' in the vulcan language, and many women have descriptive names of this type. T'Sai, for example, could mean "Of the cloth".

  • that Vulcans who follow the teachings of Surak adopt the S-K naming convention in his honor

  • that naming conventions are largely familial - Sarek, Spock, and Sybock are all related to each other, whereas the TOS-era vulcans who do not meet that convention, such as Stonn and Soren, are not.

As far as non-universe explanations, I have not come across anything other than the joke memo you mention from Whitfield's book.

Source: Comments on Vulcan Names

  • I don't recall a Vulcan named Soren. – Keith Thompson Nov 4 '17 at 0:30
  • @KeithThompson The only character named Soren on any show is a J'naii, rather than a Vulcan. I couldn't find a Vulcan by that name in the EU; just a fanfiction novella. I'm having a hard time finding a list of TOS-era Vulcans, but it's possible that it was a typo. – Thunderforge Jan 19 '18 at 2:31
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I asked about this in 1968 and received an answer from Ruth Berman. She said male names start with S, or an S prefix, and female names with T, and that these served the same function as Mr. or Mrs., or Miss (or Ms. today).

Ruth Berman ran the official fan newsletter Inside Star Trek and was working with the creators/producers at that time. (It was in IST that the IDIC was first announced and offered for sale, for instance.) So I took what she said as gospel and still do.

D.C. Fontana in the script for "Yesteryear", had Spock calling himself Selek and saying he was related to "T'Pel and Sasak". Alan Dean Foster, writing the novelizations, called the three boys who teased Spock "Sofek," "Sepek" and "Stark". So they seemed to be following the S-K convention mentioned earlier. (Fontana also proposed "Shariel" as Spock's grandfather, so she obviously felt there was some leeway there. Also, as in some earth cultures, maybe Vulcan names change with age or occupation.)

Naming conventions, of course, change over time, and it might also depend on which Vulcan society or culture you come from. On earth today, some names are shared by both men and women, or change genders -- "Shirley" used to be masculine. So I take names like 'Tuvok' in that kind of spirit.

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    Awesome. Can you provide some links or copies, even screenshots of any correspondence to back this all up? – Möoz Jul 21 '17 at 0:26
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From https://web.archive.org/web/20130924121511/http://www.stogeek.com/wiki/Vulcan_names (original link above leading to a page deleted several years ago):

Vulcan names have been a subject of much curiosity and debate amongst the members of the Federation. While staunch allies, the Vulcans closely guard many aspects of their culture and history from other worlds. The numerous male names that begin with a "S" and the frequent female names that begin with "T'P" has brought up many theories. However, the apparently simple Vulcan names have a rather complex tradition dating back before the Reformation. For the name doesn't just identify an individual, but informs any other Vulcan of that person's status in their family and the conditions of their birth.

MALE NAMES

The first letter in a male Vulcan's name the status in his family. "S"-names identify a male child as the first-born. In most cases, the first-born male child will be responsible for most of the family estate with the death of his parents. Most first-born males tend have great status, responsibilties, and advantages. Any other male children will get some kind of inheritance in decreasing percentages. Second-born males are identified with a name starting with a "T", third-born with a "V", and so forth.

Many males have a hard "k" sound at the end of their name. Ancient times, this sound was to make the name masculine. However, since the reformation, the "k"-sound has come to mean that the boy was conceived during Pon Farr. The Vulcans traditionally tend to hold children born as a result of Pon Farr with high regard as most children are indeed a result from this. The "k"-sound is often at the end, but not always, such as the name "Solkar".

FEMALE NAMES

Similarly, the names of females show the order of their birth and whether they were conceived during Pon Farr. However, it is the second letter such the "P"-sound the signifies the first-born. The frequently used "T'"-sound signifies whether she was conceived during Pon Farr. Such names are T'Pau, T'Pol, etc. Those conceived outside of Pon Farr are have a non-"T'" name such as Asil.

Again, first-born women are born with a great degree of status, responsibility, prestige, and often with a much larger dowry than any younger sisters. Second-born females are signified by an "M"-name, Third-born with a "V"-name, fourth-born with an "A"-name, etc.

FAMILY CIRCUMSTANCES

If a spouse should die, and the survivor remarry, then rules would apply to their children as well with addition of another constonant added after the signifying letter. For example, names like Skon, Spock, Stonn, etc. for males. For females, names like T'Pring, T'Planna, etc. are used.

In the case of adoption, the adopted name of the child is often changed to represent the parent of the opposite gender. When Sarek brought into his family a half-Vulcan/half-Romulan girl, her name was changed into the masculine sounding Saavik. A male child would take a name that is somewhat feminine sounding to the Vulcans, such as T'Klass.

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    This details Vulcan naming convention, but how does it answer the question of when did the convention change? – amflare Feb 28 '18 at 18:22
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    There doesn't appear to be anything on the page you've linked that actually backs up these assertions or answers the question asked – Valorum Feb 28 '18 at 18:29
  • Yes, as was said in both comments, this discusses naming convention, but does not answer the specific question I asked. – Tango May 2 '18 at 2:50

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