Star Trek’s Tamarians In TNG & Lower Decks Explained

  • The Tamarians, a fascinating species introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Darmok," speak almost entirely in metaphors that rely on cultural knowledge and mythology.
  • In the episode, Captain Picard and the Tamarian captain Dathon struggle to understand each other until Picard realizes the Tamarian language is metaphorical.
  • In Star Trek: Lower Decks, Lt. Kayshon becomes the first Tamarian to serve in Starfleet, wearing his ceremonial dagger and occasionally slipping Tamarian metaphors through the universal translator.
Introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Tamarians are a fascinating Star Trek species that returned to the franchise in Star Trek: Lower Decks. In TNG season 5, episode 2, "Darmok," Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the USS Enterprise-D rendevous with a Tamarian ship. When both species fail to understand one another, both Captain Picard and the Tamarian captain named Dathon (Paul Winfield) are beamed down to the planet below and must learn how to communicate. Prior to this encounter, the Federation had established first contact with the Tamarians, but a language barrier prevented any further formal relationship.
While the Universal Translator used by Starfleet ships can translate the individual words the Tamarians use, they speak almost entirely in metaphors that rely on extensive knowledge of their culture and mythology. Aside from their complicated language, the Tamarians also have several unique rituals and ways of communicating with other species. After Picard's encounter with Dathon and his crew, no other Tamarians appeared in Star Trek until Lt. Kayshon (Carl Tart) joined the cast of Star Trek: Lower Decks in season 2. Although Starfleet and the Federation have learned more about the Tamarians since TNG, they remain a somewhat mysterious species.


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