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Tev'Meckian (Galaxy Quest)


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Tev'Meckian (Galaxy Quest)   Advanced
Galaxy Quest insignia image © 2000 DreamWorks LLC All Rights Reserved I've been a Questarian (not a Questoid! only stupid reporters call us that) since seeing the show's first episode back in 1979. I was ten years old when Galaxy Quest premiered, and I loved the optimistic view of the future the show had, such a welcome relief after seeing the Moon ripped away in Space: 1999 and seeing Starbuck stranded in Battlestar Galactica. So I'm a diehard Quest fan, not a newbie "Questerian" (as the folks at DreamWorks SKG keep misspelling it) brought in by the new movie (its about time! thanks DreamWorks, even if you don't know how to spell you had the good sense to buy the rights from the Network That Can't Be Named Because They Canceled The Best Science-Fiction Show Ever).

My favorite character was always Dr. Lazarus of Tev'Meck. In fact, in junior high, one of my nicknames was "Dr.Dr. Lazarus image © 2000 DreamWorks LLC All Rights Reserved Lazarus" (my other nickname was "Feff", when the stupid yearbook community misspelled my first name -- now you know why I'm haunted by misspellings). I know, most people think I'm the Tech Sergeant Chen type, being a programmer and all but Sergeant Chen was good at hardware; I'm no good at hardware (I'm always confused by the difference between the digital conveyor and the molecular conveyor belt, for instance). And Dr. Lazarus was a Mak'tar, last of that wise, reptilian race: cold-blooded warriors when they needed to be, asleep-in-the-sun peacemakers when they could be. Our warrior-diplomat doesn't pinch people in the neck and have them swoon; when roused from his placid nature, he attacks them with the war hammer of Grabthar. The Mak'tar, as you should know, have ridged reptilian foreheads -- this look was so successful that Star Trek stole this idea for its motion pictures: all of a sudden the Klingons have these bumpy foreheads, when they were just swarthy humans in the original show. The Star Trek movies were always stealing ideas from Galaxy Quest; don't get me started.

OK, you got me started. This whole Klingon phenomenon was a patent ripoff of Tev'Meckian. The NSEA Bulletin, one of the best fanzines of the early 1980s, was the first to start documenting Tev'Meckian in detail. By the third season, any Questarian knew at least a couple dozen words of Tev'Meckian. But, no, that Mork Okra fellow invents this whole goofy Klingon language (they don't have a verb for "to be"! what kind of faked-up language is that?!). I mean, in the original Trek series, it was called Klingonese. As in, "We like the Enterprise; we really do. That sagging old rust bucket is designed like a garbage scow. Half the quadrant knows it. That's why they're learning to speak Klingonese." This "Klingon" language they have now had nothing to do with the show; they just made it up.

Where's the consistency that we see with Tev'Meckian? Where are all the Klingon sayings in Star Trek? There weren't any. It was only after Galaxy Quest showed the Trek copycats how a rugged, guttural and warlike alien language could give an alien race verisimilitude that they started making up Klingon and Vulcan languages for all their silly movies.

Tev'Meckian In The Series
There's a ton of Tev'Meckian in Galaxy Quest. Here are some highlights. All quotes are from Dr. Lazarus unless otherwise indicated.

"These catacombs are surprisingly modern. But why are they full of feline fur?" La brarnep av sebnak muv. jod von av trut dros pog tud. ["The Cthulian Craft"]

"Verily, the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing." Pock trun mek jud pan hen nuv mek av jal. ["Split Decision"]

"Half a Taggart was better than two." Truz Taggar-ke av brut drex thub. ["Parallax Premonition"]

"He's dead, Peter." Trut av khep Peter-ke. [Episode 31]

"Crewman number six, we hardly knew ye. The vision of your death as the lava monster wobbled towards us will light our hearts..." Fet nul lep wak buz pan paf. jack paf khep rad jux shag zef hot wak fros ses wak vod . [Episode 31]

"Kep-Mok Bloodticks are part of this nutritious breakfast." Kep mok frutwux av rox for frutzox shev. ["The Scithyan Syndrome"]

"By the hammer of Grabthar, they would have nailed me." Pef trom grabthar trut hom poj shod wak. ["The Bivrakium Element"]

"He who saves the life of a Mak'Tar saves the life of a friend." Trut dre fen dan mak'tar fen dan tas. ["The Bivrakium Element"]

"Never give up, never surrender!" Khax za thack khax gru'tock. ["The Bivrakium Element"]

"Yes, I am my brother's keeper." Bag wak av wak rovmeck tazmoj. ["Friends Never Forget"]

"On the one hand, a sister might have meant the Mak'Tar race could continue. On the other hand, the volvac sac would have made me look bloated." Sheck vuk mek pebmeck sek poj has mak'tar wan brev woj. sheck bax mek dof wur hom poj bok wak thuv wej. ["Friends Never Forget"]

"The furrowed forehead of a Mak'Tar is not easily forged." Shaz sheg mak'tar av khax khal trak. ["The Shape Shifter of Textorian 3"]

"He who has looked on his death and lived has fallen through a wormhole in time." Trut dre poj thuv sheck trut khep kux phock poj frer guck sag sa brul. ["Wormhole In Time"]

"If we only had the catacombs of planet Cthulaj..." Tug wak sok on brarnep mam Cthulaj-ke . ["The Hair Shirt"]

"By the hammer of Grabthar, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged." Pef trom Grabthar pef nof warvan paf mal av phum. ["Escape From Tev'Meck"]

"Revenge is a dish best served with Kep-Mok Bloodticks." Mok av freb pob fev roj kep mok frutwux. ["Escape From Tev'Meck"]

"If all aliens would learn to speak the logical language of Tev'Meckian, then such unfortunate misunderstandings would cease. We would have peace in our time continuum." Tug hos dred hom buj bug beck kuj mat tev'meckmat jog shoj fujshum jevrut hom drod. wak hom poj zos sa wak brul brusdrov. ["Escape From Tev'Meck"]

"The last of our disciples will not last much longer. With all our people preyed upon, it is you who must pray to us for his recovery." Zar wak hovshef fros khax zar trot ped. roj hos wak pot wab thack khet av paf dre ban wab bug wak khav trut lox.- one of the gods of Tev'Meck, speaking through Dr. Lazarus ["Return To Planet Amexon"]

"Only you can prevent Lazarus' fire. His fever will consume him. You must wash him in the spring of Adirolf on the planet Amexon. Rinse and repeat." Sok paf gub zog lazzarrus voz. trut drar fros grum trut. paf ban gun trut sa bog Adirolf-ke sheck mam Amexon-ke. nug kux sol.- one of the Tev'Meck elders, speaking to Lt. Tawny Madison in a dream ["Return To Planet Amexon"]

While the Amexon quotes are so different from the rest of Tev'Meckian that they have long perplexed Questarians. Many have argued that they were not in fact phrased in the language of Tev'Meck at all, but were part of the Rulfian ruse. Yet, as I convincingly wrote in "Tawny: Brainy and Brawny," in Issue 43 of the NSEA Bulletin, Lt. Madison had full access to the computer, so she would have had the computer translate the quotes.

The Babel Text 
It seems the modern proof that any science-fiction language is fully functional is to prepare a Babel Text written in it.  Here goes:

"And all the earth had one language and one tongue." Kux hos faj on vuk mat kux vuk wom.

"And it came about that in their wandering from the east, they came to a stretch of flat country in the land of Shinar, and there they made their living-place." Kux khet ham eb het sa trut trav hav khef trut ham bug grep zob neck sa fren Shinar-ke kux man trut bok trut phock bruj.

"And they said one to another, Come, let us make bricks, burning them well. And they had bricks for stone, putting them together with sticky earth." Kux trut phaz vuk bug e mun hur wak goj fur nek trut leck. kux trut on fur khav kur suz trut drap roj pham faj.

"And they said, Come, let us make a town, and a tower whose top will go up as high as heaven; and let us make a great name for ourselves, so that we may not be wanderers over the face of the earth." Kux trut phaz mun hur wak goj rev kux map brock frep fros kes thack rad lul rad bet . kux hur wak goj graz voj khav wak trem het wak tad khax av travmoj phuj wus faj.

"And the Lord came down to see the town and the tower which the children of men were building." Kux fez ham pab bug pex rev kux map jut vuz fef av grur.

"And the Lord said, See, they are all one people and have all one language; and this is only the start of what they may do; and now it will not be possible to keep them from any purpose of theirs." Kux fez phaz pex trut av hos vuk pot kux poj hos vuk mat . kux for av sok sal hen trut tad shom . kux hap khet fros khax av khad bug taz trut hav shun khock trut.

"Come, let us go down and take away the sense of their language, so that they will not be able to make themselves clear to one another." Mun hur wak kes pab kux lex leb ruck trut mat trem het trut fros khax av zom bug goj trut jen bug vuk e.

"So the Lord God sent them away into every part of the earth; and they gave up building their town." Trem fez nad un trut leb sa kock rox faj . kux trut za thack grur trut rev.

"So it was named Babel, because there the Lord took away the sense of all languages; and from there the Lord sent them away over all the face of the earth." Trem khet av voj Babel-ke rem man fez lol leb ruck hos mat . kux hav man fez un trut leb phuj hos wus faj.

The Sounds of Tev'Meckian
Tev'Meckian root syllables take one of the following two forms:
Initial + Vowel + Final: Tev, Meck, Mak, Tar, Kep, Mok
Cluster + Vowel + Final:  Grab, Thar

Here are the sounds indicated by these placeholders:
Initial = B, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, R, S, T, V, W, Z
Cluster = BR, DR, FR, GR, KH, PH, SH, TR, TH
Vowel = A, E, O, U
Final = B, CK, D, F, G, J, K, L, M, N, P, R, S, T, V, X, Z

If the word ends in a vowel, emphasis is on the next to last syllable, otherwise emphasis is on the final syllable.

Every word is pronounced as it is spelt.  Surprisingly for an alien language, Tev'Meckian sounds are almost exactly the same as English sounds.  Some differences are the distinctions between CK and K and KH, which sound identical to English speakers.  Perhaps speakers of other Earth languages can tell the difference, especially those people who spit when they talk: speakers of Scottish or Hebrew maybe.  The /k/ sounds distinguish words like meck ("sibling") and mek ("hand"), and kep ("devouring") and khep ("death").  Anyway, next time you are watching an episode of Galaxy Quest keep an ear out for the differences between these sounds and let me know what it is.

Little known and apparently complex rules govern whether or not to join root words with no punctuation, an apostrophe or a dash;  e.g., Grabthar ("war+god"), Tev'Meck ("world+sibling"), Kep-Mok ("devouring+mother"; not only are Kep-Mok blood ticks consumed alive, they are considered to be most delicious when eaten while devouring their own young). We have followed established convention in compiling our lexicon.

The Six-And-A-Half Rules of Tev'Meckian Grammar
Tev'Meckian grammar is so straightforward and logical that it is almost identical to English grammar.  It can be summarized in just six-and-a-half rules.

1. Nouns - Any word that does not end in a vowel is a noun or proper noun.  Unlike English, there are no definite or indefinite articles (the; a, an), nor are there different cases (e.g., he vs. him).

2. Adjectives - Adjectives typically proceed the noun they qualify.  The superlative is formed by the word bev, the comparative by brom; "than" is rendered by drex.

3. Personal Pronouns - The personal pronouns are wak ("I, me, we, us"), paf ("you"), trut ("he, him, they, them"), los ("she, her, they, them"), khet ("it, they, them"), bot ("oneself"). Possessive pronouns have the same forms: wak ("my, our"), paf ("your"), trut ("their, theirs"), etc.

4. Numbers - The basic cardinal numerals are vuk (1), thub (2), zem (3), shan (4), phej (5), lep (6), rug (7), khaz (8), bras (9), haj (10), drap (100), grez (1000).  Tens and hundreds are formed by simple junctions of the numerals, e.g. 473 is shandrap rughaj zem.  Ordinals are syntatically adjectives and have the same form as the basic numbers (e.g. phej, "five, fifth"). Multiples are formed by the use of the suffix -frez (phejfrez, "five times"), fractions by -jef (phejjer, "one fifth"), collectives by -noz (phejnoz, "quintuple"), and distributives using the preposition ox.

5. Verbs - The copula is av.

6. Adverbs - Comparison as for adjectives.

6.5. Names - Foreign names require the suffix -ke.  Peter-ke, "Peter".  Only foreign names are capitalized;  native names are not.  (Only the first word in the first sentence of a paragraph is capitalized.)

A Note On The Name Lazarus
I don't want to hear from any more rabid Trek fans about the inappropriateness of the name "Dr. Lazarus".  I mean, all the Klingons had K- names (Kor, Koloth, Kras, Kang, et al), and all the Vulcan men had S- names, like Spock, Sarek, Surak, et al.  Man, those Trek writers didn't know anything about real languages.  

It is not true that Lazarus is not a standard Tev'Meckian word.  In fact, it is simply an English simplification of Lazzarrus (both /z/ and /r/ were pronounced long), which was the Tev'Meckian name of Dr. Lazarus, meaning "very last offspring", the prophetic name given him by his mother, foretelling that he would be the sole survivor from the planet Mak'Tar.

The similarity to the name Lazarus from the Gospels is just a coincidence.  Trekkies should note that Spock -- Spock! -- quoted Christ in the episode The Trouble With Tribbles.

Trek fans need to get a life, acknowledge that Taggart is better than Picard and stop spending all their time e-mailing me and writing anti-Galaxy Quest web sites. Freaks.

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