Author Topic: Introduction to the Vulcan Languages  (Read 1371 times)


  • The Vulcan
  • Administrator
  • Ensign
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Shiyau thol'es k'thorai ri k'ahm.
    • View Profile
Introduction to the Vulcan Languages
« on: January 13, 2011, 02:22:15 AM »
While the main purpose of this board is to provide SIMmers with the more common phrases and words of the modern Vulcan language - be it to impress a charming pointy ear or translate what sounded suspiciously like a joke (they’d never!) - it may be you would actually like to construct a sentence of your own; or simply learn a little about the dazzling and –yes, fascinating – variety fellow Star Trek fans have made of the oh so few tidbits the movies and series have given us.

To that end, this introduction shall provide some basic guidelines and a brief glimpse at the Vulcan mindset which has – logically – influenced their language and its evolution.

Please note that the following are almost exclusively excerpts from the Vulcan Language Institute to which I owe a debt of gratitude for restoring and preserving what I long presumed lost to the endless depths of cyberspace.  Sanu — nar-tor’voh neruk klem t’nash-veh.

Traditional and Modern Golic

Traditional Golic Vulcan (TGV), also known incorrectly to offworlders as "Old Vulcan", "High Vulcan", "Ceremonial Vulcan", "Liturgical Vulcan", etc., dates from the time of Surak and his original followers, and is descended from "Ancient Golic Vulcan", the language spoken at least 25,000 years ago on the Plains of Gol and surrounding regions. Its directly-descended modern form is called Modern Golic Vulcan (MGV).
Traditional Golic continues to be spoken in ceremonial usage, at schools of various disciplines (such as those at the religious centers of Gol and Mount Seleya), by poets and writers of certain styles of literature, by devout followers of Surak's teachings, and by members of many old clans affiliated with Surak. It is one of three "official" languages of the planet Vulcan and all educated Vulcans speak the language in addition to their own regional dialects and Modern Standard Vulcan, somewhat like the status Latin had for something like 1,500 years on Earth. Modern Golic is the dialect spoken in day-to-day use by most people who live in the Gol region.

Philologists and linguists from outside Vulcan often use the incorrect term "Old High Vulcan" in Federation Standard English (FSE) to describe the traditional form of the Golic Vulcan language, although this has lead to much confusion. The linguistic experts from T'Khasi itself call this language >Ba-Golik< (Traditional Golic) or more formally, >Ba-Gol-Vuhlkansu< (Traditional Golic Vulcan).
The modern form is often incorrectly called "High Vulcan" by offworlders but >Iyi-Golik< (Modern Golic) or >Iyi-Gol-Vuhlkansu< (Modern Golic Vulcan) by the Vulcans. This is roughly similar to the difference between the King's English and American English on Earth -- the first lead to the second and, although they have their differences, they are still, for the most part, the same language. "GV" is used if the information covers all of the Golic Vulcan languages.


The alphabetic system used in Traditional Golic Vulcan (and Lowlands Golic Vulcan) is made up of 30 symbols in all. The Traditional Golic Vulcan order of their letters is:
S T P K R L A D O E V U H G Ch I N Z M Y F W B Sh Th Kh Zh Ts Dzh Ks

The alphabetic system used in Modern Golic Vulcan is made up of 27 symbols in all. The Modern Golic Vulcan order of their letters is:

S T P K R L A Sh O U D V Kh E H G Ch I N Zh M Y F Z Th W B

Ceremonial Script
The "Ceremonial Script" (Vanu-Zukitan) is the most ornate style, preserving a certain amount of the ancient pictographic nature of Vulcan languages. This script is used for most inscriptions, official legal and family documents, and all major literary works. This is the style that Surak and his contemporaries used throughout their writings.

Common Script
The "Common Script" (Tsuk-Zukitan) is that used in day-to-day life for writing notes, work, journals, correspondence, etc., and for any use that the "Ceremonial" is not appropriate. It is not as intricate as the "Ceremonial" and is much easier to write.

Media SCript
The "Media Script" (Hitra-Zukitan) is a simplified form used for mass-produced printings and computer displays, for example. After contact with Earth and the formation of the Federation, the Media Script was simplified further to allow it to be displayed on FSE-based systems

The Ceremonial Script is nearly always written top to bottom. The Common Script is written either top to bottom or left to right, depending on the writer and style. The Media Script always appears left to right.

Sentence Order

As a syntactic language, sentence order is very important in TGV and MGV. The verb is almost always placed first in the sentence, although it may move for emphasis. Subjects are placed before objects in the sentence. The language tends to be "contextual" in that understood or previously mentioned things are seldom repeated, unless needed for emphasis.
Non-Vulcans sometimes have a tough time understanding a conversation when pronouns, subjects and objects are dropped out. Vulcans usually find it wasteful to use more words than are truly necessary to get a point across. Normally full word usage is only done in teaching situations or formal literature.


The position of stress varies in GV words, although purists often put the stress on the second part of a compound. There is much variation due to the language reforms that were left incomplete after the death of Surak.
Remember not to count prefixes and suffixes when determining stress. The root word, whether compound or not, is often what stress is based on.


Although many Federation languages have interrogative symbols, Golic Vulcan does not -- there is no question mark. "Yes or No" questions are formed by using the word >ha< at the very end of the sentence. Other questions are formed by using a questioning word like >wilat< (where) at the end of the sentence. To aid offworlders with the language, though, a question mark is often used in transliterated Vulcan (but never with true written Vulcan).

Modes of Speech

In Modern Golic Vulcan there is only one mode of speech, whereas there are three modes of speech in Traditional Golic: Superior, Normal and Inferior. (The Modern Golic Vulcan mode is based almost entirely on the Normal Mode of Traditional Golic Vulcan).
One who is superior in standing to or much older than another person often uses the "Superior Mode" form of many words in speech. These words tend to be more ancient forms of words. In addition to using the older forms of words, superiors also tend to be more formal in their use of the language, not dropping out as much as the normal speaker does. An example of this is that in "Superior Mode" one tends to use indefinite articles and full word usage most of the time, where in "Normal Mode" they are more often dropped.
Throughout our material, we will mostly concentrate on "Normal Mode", as that is the mode perhaps 90% of Vulcans use. "Inferior Mode" is mostly a leftover from the days before Surak. It is a very simplified form of the language that was previously used by slaves, common servants, those with low intelligence, and young children before entering school. Most Vulcans find this mode distasteful and it is now thought of mostly as an artifact. Since this is an introductory grammar and not a comprehensive guide, we will not go into this subject any further at this time.

For more detailed Information please refer to the VLI or the equally informative 'Korsaya'