A Beginner's Guide to Speaking Tamarian

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Phrubub, when he knows the cheese

"Sheen! His wang extended. His purchases approaching!" ~ Dathon

Have you been rejected by the Über-nerds at Star Trek Conventions? Don't worry!

Too stupid to learn Klingon? Relax!

Why? Because absolutely anyone can learn Tamarian!

In fact, the less intellectual and more pop-culture obsessed you are, the easier it is!

Tamarian is the language spoken by Dathon of the Children of Tamar, and first heard in the episode "Darmok"[1] from the fifth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Unlike traditional earth speech, it relies on metaphor and allegory to communicate meaning.

This confounded Starfleet for years, despite the long existence of the Universal Translator, which can somehow resolve all sorts of obscure clicks and bloobs into recognizable English speech, yet was somehow unable to cross-reference the completely obvious proper nouns with the names stored in its own cultural databases.

Now, for the first time, you too can learn to speak an alien tongue by expressing earth allegories using Tamarian syntax. Just review the Tamarian phrases given as examples, then create your own phrases using Earth references.


Cultural Reference Meaning
Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. Friendship as a result of a fight against a common enemy.
Shaka, when the walls fell. Failure.
Sokath, his eyes uncovered (or, his eyes open). An understanding or realization has been achieved.
Kailash, when it rises. An accident or unavoidable loss (e.g. natural disaster).

North American English[edit]

Cultural Reference Meaning
Pam and Tommy on Lake Mead. An act of stupidity or impulsiveness, especially one with wide repercussions.
Janet, her nipple uncovered. A futile cry for help or attention, usually from a desperate person.
Martha, on home detention. An injustice whose penalty is a joke or farce.
Shatner, his toupee unfurled. (May substitute Shatner with Marv Albert, Sam Donaldson, Elton John or Burt Reynolds) A flimsy lie, an embarrassment, or some other uncomfortable truth that people know about but don't talk about.
Hugh, when the beans flew. A ridiculous, almost comical attack.
Spears, when the hair fell. A clear sign of free-fall breakdown.
Paris, her legs open. A venture into certain danger.
Sheen, winning. A state of willful delusion.

Examples in Everyday Conversation[edit]

"Stefani, her wardrobe for sale!" — Even in English, the ominous warning is clear.
Hi Garth! How's it going?
Stefani, her clothes at Target! Gifford at Wal-Mart!
Bad business venture, huh? Are the losses big?
Rowling... her Warner Bracelet.
A million dollars? That's awful!
Garfunkel! Oates! Ridgeley! And ¾ of Destiny's Child!
Two-thirds, actually, but I know what you mean. Such a disappointing failure... How are you coping with it?
Silverman, her funny cigarette.
Awww, c'mon. Drugs are not the answer, my friend.

Tips for Success[edit]

"Norris, his roundhouse extended!" — Hell, no. Unless you're begging for a kick to the face, of course.

Tamarian is a thriving language. While Klingon is crawling at a Gagh's pace, and normal English is adding a few bits of slang per year, Anglicized Tamarian vocabulary is growing as fast as the media can report it. To stay abreast:

  • Stay immersed in the current literature (People, OK!), television journalism (TMZ, E!), and online resources (Stupid Celebrities, etc.) to keep your cultural knowledge current.
  • Take at a Tamarian language course at a respected uni- ... at a university that offers a course in the subject.
  • And remember, Tamarians love classic methaphors, but even they hate used-up memes. For best results, make reference to well-known celebrities and their notable behaviours and activities, but avoid overutilized references like O.J. Simpson, 'Michael Jackson or (most importantly) Chuck Norris. Failure to do so may result in the listener breaking off the conversation and leaving ("Kiteo, his eyes closed.") or attacking you unexpectedly ("Uzani, his army at Lashmir."}


See Also[edit]