|Golic Vulcan (Native name)|
Created by – James Doohan,
three currently in use
Official language in
Vulcan (pre-2161), United Federation of Planets (2161 onward)
real world - none; in universe – Vulcan Language Institute
|Codes and Resources|
Golic Vulcan (native t'Golic) is the most common language of the Vulcan people. It is among the more prominent languages in the United Federation of Planets within the original continuity.
- Koon-ut-kal-if-fee! (Marriage or challenge, a contestation of an arranged betrothal)
- - Arlene Martel (T'Pring), Star Trek: The Original Series, “Amok Time”. First instance of Vulcan heard on screen.
Though Vulcan culture was featured prominently in the original series, only a very limited number of spoken words were heard, mostly pronouns. Linguist Dorothy Jones Heydt published various literature with an invented Vulcan language during the 1960's-70's, complete with grammatical rules and syntax; while her work was popular among fans and her language used by other authors, it is unclear if her version of Vulcan gained any traction into the present day.
In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, spoken Vulcan was created by actor James Doohan, who also did the same for Klingon. These were dubbed over the original footage, in which the actors originally spoke in English, based upon their lip movements. This technique was repeated for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this time by professional linguist Marc Okrand; he contributed again for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
The Vulcan language would not be heard again on-screen until Star Trek: Enterprise, spoken primarily by actresses Jolene Blalock (in the role of T'Pol) and Linda Park (as Hoshi Sato). Again Okrand was employed by Paramount to work on the language, though only for one episode.
Vulcan Language InstituteEdit
- Vokau. (Remember)
- - Michael Nouri (Syrran), Star Trek: Enterprise, “The Forge”. This is the first time canonical Vulcan was derived from the work of the Vulcan Language Institute.
In 1980, Mark R. Gardner founded the Vulcan Language Institute for the development of Golic Vulcan. Over the course of 25 years, the VLI compiled a considerable Vulcan lexicon and established authoritative rules of grammar. The site temporarily went defunct in 2008, but has since been reactivated; it is still used today as an authoritative resource. Some later episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise are known to have used words from the Golic lexicon, lending a degree of vindication to the project.
Alternatives to Golic VulcanEdit
Golic Vulcan is not the only Vulcan language currently found in the community, nor does the VLI claim absolute authority on Vulcan linguistics. Marketa and Joel Zvelebil, for instance, developed “Modern Standard Vulcan” separately from Golic, and the VLI linguistic tree indicates non-Golic languages do exist and are still in use.
According to the Vulcan Language Institute, Golic is one of three de jure languages spoken on Vulcan, originating in the Gol region. In turn, three dialects of Golic – Modern, Traditional, and Lowlands – are currently in use. There are many more historic dialects in the Golic language family than can be covered in this article; a fully developed linguistic tree can be found in VLI reference material.
Modern Golic (Lyi-Golik) is the most common dialect, used in everyday speech and writing by those native to the region of Gol. Traditional Golic (Ba-Gol-Vulkhansu) is more formalized, used mainly for ceremonial and academic purposes; all Vulcans are fluent in this official form of Golic, in addition to Modern Standard Vulcan and their own regional language. Lowlands Golic (Nuktru-golik) combines Modern Golic with assimilated pronunciations and loanwords from the now-extinct Planar Golic.
Ancient Golic (Mha'us-Gollhikh) is the language from which all modern dialects of Golic are descended. It is in turn descended from Old High Golic, which according to author Diane Duane is the dialect from which the Romulans artifically mutated their own language.
The information in this section is derived from the Korsaya model. It might or might not conflict with the information provided by the Vulcan Language Institute.
Vulcan phonology consists of 27 consonants, and no less than 19 distinct vowels, amounting to a grand total of 46 individual sounds. The tables below uses the phonemes of the Traditional Golic dialect.
|Romanized Golic Vowels and IPA counterparts|
* Often pronounced /ʌ/ or /ə/ in Modern and Lowlands dialect.
** Pronounced ɛˇʔ (with a stop) at the end of a word.
*** Can also be pronounced /æ/ in Modern or Lowlands dialect.
|Golic Consonants and IPA counterparts|
* Like /t͡ʃ/, but lower, as in English “watch” compared to “chain.”
** Special rules apply to this phoneme; see shaya-ralash below.
Doubled consonants are pronounced slightly differently if they occur at the end of a word; these doubles are relatively rare outside of Ancient Golic, but do sometimes occur. Unless otherwise indicated, the doubles below are aspirated with a slight /ʰ/ sound.
|Doubles||dd, ff, kk, ll (/l͡ʒ/), mm (/mʼ/), nn (/nʼ/), rr (/R/), ss, tt|
The novice should beware of “false doubles,” which are pronounced as they appear:
|False doubles||ssh (/sʃ/), tth (/tθ/), zzh (/zʒ/)|
Golic Vulcan has many combinations of consonants that do not occur in English. Each letter in these combinations is pronounced syllabically, without pause or alteration; for instance, the trigram “psth” is pronounced, letter by letter, /psθ/. While many such combinations may appear at the beginning or middle of a word, only “ks” (English “X”) and “kt” may appear at the end of a word.
The shaya-ralash ( ' ) follows a complex set of grammar rules. When placed after a single letter, as in the prefix t' , it represents a short schwa, as in the 'y' in English “sibyl”; for instance, the name T'Pau is pronunced /təpau/. But if more than one letter precedes it, it is spoken as a full glottal stop, as in di'kizh (/diʔkiʒ/). Yet still, if the shaya-ralash is followed by a vowel, it does not affect speech at all, as in d'ohan (/doh.an/).
Writing systems – the Zukitan Edit
Vulcan writing systems have varied widely both on-screen and in fan continuity. One script seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture was blocky and resembled a left-to-right alphabet; these symbols were never assigned any meaning on screen and have mostly fallen out of use, only making one other appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The Motion Picture also introduced a second script, seen embroidered on the Vulcan attire worn by Leonard Nimoy (Spock). These symbols, three in all, were written vertically in non-uniform characters. They recurred continuously in the films and were seen again in Star Trek: Enterprise, and were ultimately assigned the logographic meaning “Rata-Tafar-Tapan” (concept, discipline, process).
The most recognized and possibly most popular Vulcan writing system is the ornate “spiral” calligraphy, dating to at least 1994 on the set of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Continuity states this script dates to ancient Vulcan society, and is compared to musical notation on Earth. This script has since become a distinctive part of Vulcan culture, and was seen frequently on Enterprise.
The Vulcan Language Institute is the first organization known to further develop the second script, which it named Tsuri-Zukitan (Common Script). 25 consonantal symbols were published, three of them reserved for Traditional and Lowlands Golic. However, since the Tsuri symbol for “S” is now “rata” in canon, this may or may not render the alphabet obsolete.
The VLI also developed a “media script,” or Hitra-Zukitan, designed to be computer-friendly. This variant uses Greek letters and other existing symbols common to TrueType fonts, requiring no special software to use. The spiral calligraphy was named Vanu-Zukitan (Ceremonial Script), but no orthography is known to have been developed by the VLI.
While the Vanu calligraphy was primarily artistic and never assigned meanings on screen, a logogram-rooted alphabet was derived from its design by Britton Watkins of the Korsaya group (active since 2010), which he called Tanaf-Kitaun. Watkins also expanded on the second script, renaming it Gotavlu-Zukitan (Standard Script); Gotavlu And Tsuri are not identical, using both different symbols and a different orthography. Korsaya introduced an additional system for everyday handwriting, never seen on screen, called El'ru-Kitaun.
The Korsaya system has become extremely popular with fans, and is featured as Golic Vulcan on the language website Omniglot. The Sato Institute's orthography for Romulan is partly based on this system.