Live Long and Prosper (Vulcan salute)

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Celia Lovsky as T'Pau raises her hand in the first Vulcan salute ever seen, in "Amok Time", from Star Trek: The Original Series, September 15, 1967.
unidentified fans at Starcon '77 in Dallas, Texas

Live Long and Prosper is a now famous salute performed when two Vulcan characters either greet one another or take their leave. The phrase "Live long and prosper" is accompanied by a formal hand gesture. The (lesser known) response is "Peace and long life."

Vulcan Pronunciation

There are at least two different versions of the Vulcan pronunciation of this phrase in common use:

  • Dif-tor heh smusma is the version seen on most "official" Star Trek sources such as Memory Alpha; it was first used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).[1]
  • Mehe nakkhet ur-seveh is often seen in fanfic, but is not canon for the TV show or films; it has a later origin in Diane Duane's novel Spock's World (1989).

The Hand Gesture in Canon

The Vulcan salute was performed in canon for the first time in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Amok Time." Celia Lovsky as T'Pau is the first person viewers saw raising her left hand in the now-familiar gesture.

Leonard Nimoy writes in "I Am Not Spock" that he based the hand gesture on the "Priestly Blessing" performed by Jewish Kohanim, the priests of the Hebrew Tribes, with both hands. It represents the Hebrew letter Shin (ש), which has three upward strokes similar to the position of the thumb and fingers in the salute. The letter Shin stands for Shaddai, meaning "Almighty (God)". The words of the blessing are from Numbers 6:24-26: "May the Lord bless you and keep you," and so on. Nimoy says he was also told that the Shin invokes the Shekinah, the female aspect of God, and it is she who enters the temple and blesses the people.

President Barack Obama and Nichelle Nichols give the Vulcan salute from the Oval Office, February 29, 2012.

Live Long and Prosper: Valediction Used by Fans

"Live Long and Prosper" (commonly: "L.L.& P.") is used by some Trek fans as a closing to letters and messages to each other. For example: "See you at the next con! L.L.& P., MPH." Leonard Nimoy signed all of his Twitters with LLAP.

The Hand Gesture in Fanon

The gesture was named the Ta'al by Margaret Wander Bonanno in Dwellers in the Crucible, and many fans have adopted this name. Diane Duane refers to it as "the parted hand".

Jacqueline Lichtenberg incorporates the gesture in the philosophies expressed in her Kraith series. Here, it is an expression of devotion to Surak's Construct. The thumb held apart from the other fingers represents reverence for privacy: the small finger, IDIC; the third finger, Nome, meaning All; the middle finger, reverence for life; and the index finger, the doctrine of the Domination of Logic. [2]

The Hand Gesture Portrayed in Fanworks

External Links

References

  1. Vulcan Language on Memory Alpha; the pronunciation was coined by James Doohan (Scotty) as a phrase that could be lip-synced to the spoken words "live long and prosper" in English.
  2. Surak's Construct at simegen.com.