‘Dif-tor heh smusma’. If you’re a fan of Star Trek then you’d be familiar with this very popular Vulcan phrase. Translated in English to mean ‘Live long and prosper’, this popular phrase is well known to be spoken by Mr Spock and has been around for quite a few decades. You could say this phrase coupled with the famous hand salute that goes with it has seamlessly been associated with the Star Trek Universe.
With this in mind, did you know that the popularly known Klingon language isn’t the only one spoken in the Star Trek Universe? In fact, in this blog post, we’ll explore a few of the other languages you may or may not know about that exist within the Star Trek Universe.
Before we get into it here’s a fun fact, there are actually 27 languages that we’ve counted and the ‘Federation Standard’ (English) is a part of it. So let’s not waste any more time and dive right in!
Also known as the ‘Children of Tama’, their species first appeared in Season 5 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Tamarian was first spoken by Dathon, their captain. The Tamarian language is constructed in a very unconventional way and in order for it to be translated to ‘earthly speech’, the use of metaphors and allegory are necessary to give meaning to what is being said.
It’s important to note that imagery above all else is what the Tamarian language is built on. The Children of Tama communicate based on their own history and legends to create a narrative. This narrative is then used to formulate an image within the minds of those they are communicating with.
A brilliant example that we can refer to is the use of memes. Memes have taken over the internet today. These days, everyone uses memes to communicate a point without having to explain too much and there’s usually a joke behind it as well. The catch here lies in the other person involved in the line of communication to know the background story behind the meme. If they don’t know the back story, they may have to do a little research to grasp a full understanding and catch up to speed.
Here’s a popular breakdown of Tamarian that’s translated to English:
- Tamarian: Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.
- English reference: A Friendship is developed as a result of a fight against a common enemy.
- Overall meaning: Cooperation or collaboration
The back story: Two Tamarians Darmok and Jalad were brought together while fighting a common enemy on an island called Tanagra.
Romulan, also called Rihannsu, is spoken by the people of the Romulan Star Empire. The Romulan language or Rihan and that of the Vulcan language (which we’ll get to next), are said to sound very similar in the ears of anyone who doesn’t know the languages well enough. The closeness between the two languages is because the Romulans are descendants of the Vulcans.
Romulan words are formed by putting two or three words together to make a new word. For example, ‘Jolan Tru’ is the Rihannsu phrase for a salutation or saying goodbye. If you see the written version of the Romulan language it will look like something inspired by old Led displays.
The Romulan language also uses a number of affixes (whether it be a prefix, suffix or infix) to create new meanings from words that already exist. The language was developed as a result of the Romulans’ exodus from Planet Vulcan. It is taken from ‘Old High Vulcan’ following another evolution of the language.
Spoken by the Vulcans, the Vulcan language is best described as being close to Chinese. This language has both a simplified version but also comes with more formal written scripts.
For example, the written form of the Vulcan language has several versions. One such version looks like terrestrial musical notes and is written in columns which are read from top to bottom and left to right.
The Vulcan language was written to be logical above all else. Here are some example of English translations of Vulcan phrases (other than what we used earlier in our post):
- ‘Sochya eh Dif’ is translated to mean ‘Peace and long life’ in English.
- ‘Chaya t’not’, an expression of gratitude which is translated to English to mean ‘Thank you’.
- ‘Pash tah’ in English, this phrase means ‘Good night’.
Easily recognized for their big heads, the Ferengi come from the easily despised planet of Ferenginar that is both wet from all the rain they have and the humidity that it is coupled with. You could almost compare the complexity of their language with the state of their planet. For example, rain may be interchanged with 178 different words in Ferengi. If that’s not enough, snow has about 50 variations. Fun fact, because the atmosphere was always damp, there is no word for ‘crisp’ in Ferengi because it is simply unknown to them.
Ferengi, when written, looks like a flowchart branching out in several directions . The symbols used to represent words resemble 60 degree angles with other text looking like hexagons. Ferengi pronounce humans as ‘hew-mons’.
One of the many variations for the word rain is ‘choritzing’. This variation means ‘Heavy Rain’.
You’ve just gotten an in-depth look at 4 languages other than Klingon that exist with the Star Trek Universe. Although there’s a lot of information available on these languages, Klingon is the only language of them all that has a complete vocabulary.
We mentioned earlier that within the Star Trek Universe, English is referred to as Federation Standard. It’s the language used by the United Federation of Planets. Throughout the galaxy, it is commonly referred to as ‘Standard’ or the ‘Standard Tongue’.
As we stated before, in all there are approximately 27 languages that exist within the Star Trek Universe. Can you identify other languages in the Star Trek universe? Tell us in the comments.