Dedicated fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation probably know that Lieutenant Commander Data is a Soong-type android with a positronic brain, as well as the only android of this type to ever enter into Starfleet. What they probably don’t know is that the decision to pronounce Data’s name as Day-Ta rather than Dah-ta was due to a fluke incident. A fluke incident attributed to none other than Patrick Stewart.
In a video clip from a panel discussion featuring Brent Spiner, which comes via Gizmodo, the actor who played Data tells the tale of how Patrick Stewart — Jean-Luc Picard if you’d rather stay in universe at all times — gave the robotic character’s name its official pronunciation. And in true P. Stew fashion, the pronunciation wasn’t a conscious decision; it just happened to be how he pronounces Data, and Gene Roddenberry decided to stick with it.
According to Spiner, Stewart first pronounced the name the Picard way during a table read of the pilot episode. Right off the bat Stewart pronounced the name as Day-ta, and on the spot Roddenberry made a new rule. Anybody who says a unique name (like an alien name) first is responsible for how everyone else has to say it throughout the series. Which sounds like a lot of pressure — thank Q nobody pronounced the Borg with a soft “g.”
Spiner even goes as far as to say that Stewart could even be responsible for getting this pronunciation of data into the mainstream. Although that claim seems a bit dubious considering the two pronunciations seem to have always existed side by side. But who knows? We’re all aware that the full glory of Patrick Stewart’s impact on society will never be truly understood.
What do you think of this tale of how Data’s name came to be pronounced as Day-ta? Do you want Patrick Stewart to decide how to pronounce your own name? Give us your thoughts in the comments!
Images: Paramount Pictures