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?

3 Answers 3


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

  • 1
    I don't recall a Vulcan named Soren. Nov 4, 2017 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. Jan 19, 2018 at 2:31
  • Named (male) Vulcan on TV and film, pre-ST:ENT, that didn't follow the S***K pattern: Stonn, Sitar, (TOS); Skon (ST III); Kiri-kin-tha (ST VI); Pola, Sakkath, Savar, Satelk, Taurik (TNG); Chu'lak, Delvok, Lojal, Syvar, (DS9); Falor, Kinis, Lorot(?), Sek, Soral, Tuvok, Vorik, (VOY). I could do a similar list for female Vulcans that don't follow T'(whatever), but the point is made. If I included "ST: ENT) where Vulcans played a far more prominent role, the list would be longer. Mar 10, 2020 at 21:10

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.

  • 2
    Awesome. Can you provide some links or copies, even screenshots of any correspondence to back this all up?
    – Möoz
    Jul 21, 2017 at 0:26

If the names are less following strict rules, it could be just because as time goes on, there are more Vulcan characters, and the writers are running out of names that follow the rules.

An in-story explanation could be the names that follow the previous strict rules were from some elite ruling class, and the only Vulcans humans originally would likely come across. Later, as time goes on, humans were more likely to run across "average" Vulcans. This could also explain why Tuvok is the first black Vulcan we see.

  • 1
    I've removed the unnecessary parts to focus on an answer; please read How to Answer. In any case, do you have evidence to back up this theory, which you could edit in to improve your post?
    – Jenayah
    Mar 10, 2020 at 5:08

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