You don’t have to be a Star Trek fan to know what the Vulcan salute looks like—that raised hand with the palm forward and thumb extended while the fingers are parted between middle and ring finger is an instantly recognizable gesture. It’s become so famous that it has broken free of TV and film and entered the real world, even being included as a part of the Unicode Standard (U+1F596). It’s also a common sign of respect for those who have passed away, as demonstrated by this touching moment of remembrance by NASA astronaut Terry W. Virts, who performed the salute while onboard the International Space Station in tribute to late Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.
While many people may be familiar with the Vulcan salute, it’s less well-known that there are other greetings in the Federation’s primary language, Vulcan. In fact, there are quite a few ways to say hello on the planet of Vulcan, and some of them are more formal than others.
One way to greet someone in vulcan is wa’na’shau, which can be translated as “Sincere welcome.” This is used only between friends, family members, and close acquaintances, as it implies an established relationship. It is never used to greet someone you meet for the first time or anyone with whom you do not have a close relationship.
In addition to wa’na’shau, there is another common Vulcan greeting: pontal na’sochya, which can be translated as “Well-earned congratulations.” This is more formal than simply saying, “Hello,” and it is typically reserved for special occasions or significant milestones, such as an anniversary. It is also used as a congratulations to children who have reached certain age milestones.
There is even a Vulcan word for happiness, b’elak paar, which can be pronounced as bleh-kah-par-ay. This was heard in ENT: “Breaking the Ice” and was used when Hoshi Sato sent a communication through Enterprise’s universal translator to her former boyfriend, Spock, who was being held captive by the Dominion in the episode “Journey to Babel.” While this greeting is not considered canon for the show, it has seen some fan fiction use, including in the book, Mene sakkhet ur-seveh by Diane Duane.