Ferengi

From Academic Kids

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Ferengis1.jpg
Ferengi on Star Trek: The Next Generation

In the Star Trek fictional universe, the Ferengi are an alien race notable for their devotion towards capitalist profit and their constant efforts to swindle people into bad deals. They are often shown as being somewhat of a nuisance, and plots involving them are usually comedic ones. Originally, they were meant to replace the Klingons as a threat to the Federation but viewers simply could not see the ridiculous creatures as posing any kind of consistent threat. The Borg designation for the Ferengi is "species 180."

The Ferengi come from the planet Ferenginar, in the center of the Ferengi Alliance located in the Alpha Quadrant. Their name likely is derived from the Arabic word Faranj or Ifranj, "Franks", which the Arabs used to describe the European merchants in the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean and by extension, all westerners. The name may also derive from a colloqial Italian word ferengi, meaning literally "Yankee Trader".

In Encounter at Farpoint the Ferengi are mentioned for the first time. The Bandi leader Groppler Zorn threatens to sell Farpoint Station to the Ferengi, to which Picard said he hoped the Ferengi found the Bandi as tasty as their last associates. The Ferengi were seen for the first time in the episode The Last Outpost. In the Star Trek chronology, the earliest known reference to the race occurs in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Dear Doctor" when an alien mentions the Ferengi in passing, but the Enterprise crew do not know the name.

Contents

Biology

Ferengi are somewhat smaller than humans. They have unusually large ears (more so in males than in females), sharp, crooked teeth, double foreheads, ascending ribs, upper and lower lungs, and a four-lobed brain that cannot be read by the telepathic powers of Betazoids or Vulcans. The ears, at least in males, are erogenous spots; the Ferengi colloquially use the word "lobes" much as the word "balls" is used in modern English (as in, "I didn't think you had the lobes for that").

Culture

Ferengi culture is based entirely on commerce, and the two-hundred eighty-five Rules of Acquisition comprise the sacred code on which all of Ferengi society is based. They were first written down by Gint, the first Grand Nagus. The title "Rules of Acquisition" was chosen as a clever marketing ploy (since the rules are merely guidelines) and Gint numbered his first rule as #162, in order to create a demand for the other 161 Rules that had not yet been created.

In addition to the Rules, the Ferengi also recognize the five Stages of Acquisition: infatuation, justification, appropriation, obsession, and resale. They value similar traits in other species as well - Earth's Wall Street is regarded with near-religious reverence by Ferengi, who routinely visit Earth to make pilgrimages to the "holy site" of commerce and business.

The laws and society of the Ferengi are extremely sexist. Women are forbidden to make profit, wear clothes, talk to strangers, or travel. Selling one's mother for gold-pressed latinum, the principal form of legal tender, is an act that would be looked on with admiration in Ferengi society.

The quest for profit even reaches into Ferengi religion. It is common for Ferengi to pray for financial success. The Ferengi believe in an afterlife which is based on the profit earned in life. There are two possible eternal fates: for the successful, the Divine Treasury lies ahead (provided one can bribe one's way in); the financial failures spend eternity in the Vault of Eternal Destitution.

Ferengi males are neither buried nor cremated when they die. Rather, the dying male puts his body up for auction to the highest bidder and the dead body is carved up into little pieces that are vacuum-desiccated, preserved and packaged for sale as mementos of a worthy life.

A subset of the Ferengi culture is known as the Eliminators, who routinely hire themselves out as assassins to anyone willing to pay for their services. Most Ferengi, however, view Eliminators as eccentric at best (since Eliminators appear to enjoy the sport of killing more than the profits gained thereby), dangerous psychopaths at worst, and avoid them whenever possible.

Ferengi cuisine consists of insects and other small invertebrates, such as "tube grubs," either served alive or jellied or juiced. Ferengi women traditionally soften food for members of their family by chewing it. Despite the comment made by Picard in "Encounter at Farpoint" about Ferengi finding their past associates "tasty" there is no indication that they actually practice cannibalism.

When welcoming guests into his home, a Ferengi will speak a traditional greeting. He will say "Welcome to our home. Please place your thumbprint on the legal waivers and deposit your admission fee in the slot by the door. Remember, my house is my house." The guest replies "As are its contents."

Ferengi personalities vary from cultured (i.e. Quark of Deep Space Nine) to crude (as per the Ferengi first encountered by the Enterprise NCC-1701-D).

Language

In the Star Trek television shows, Ferengi are almost always shown speaking in English, but they are known to have their own language. The Deep Space Nine episode 'Little Green Men' shows Ferengi speaking their own language when their implanted Universal Translators malfunction. Several episodes show examples of the Ferengi written language or script, some of them being animated on computer displays, as if they were a futuristic version of a Ferengi Stock ticker.

There exists an unofficial constructed Ferengi language (http://www.pinette.net/chris/startrek/ferengi.html).

History

According to legend, in ancient times the Ferengi and the Gree vied for control of their planet.

Before uniting under a Nagus, Ferenginar was divided into warring Commerce Zones. This was known as the "Barter Age."

In about the 9th Millennium B.C.E. Gint started writing the Rules of Acquisition laying the basis for Ferengi society.

In 1947, a Ferengi craft from the 2370s (carrying Quark, Rom, Nog and Odo) crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. This was humanity's first contact with the Ferengi, although "officially" the record showed that the crashed alien ship was actually a weather balloon.

At some point between 1947 and 2151, the Ferengi purchased warp drive from the Breen.

In 2151, Ferengi raided the starship Enterprise (NX-01), but were quickly defeated. Their racial identity remained unknown to the humans.

In 2355, the (still unknown) Ferengi fought Jean-Luc Picard at the Battle of Maxia.

In 2364, official first contact was made between the Ferengi Alliance and the United Federation of Planets at the planet Delphi Ardu.

Leadership

The leader of the Ferengi government holds the title "Grand Nagus".

  • Grand Nagus Gint (c. 9th Millennium B.C.E.)
  • Grand Nagus Yost
  • Grand Nagus Drik
  • Grand Nagus Frek (invents the 4th Rule)
  • Grand Nagus Brolok
  • Grand Nagus Oblat
  • Grand Nagus Smeet "the Obvious"
  • DaiMon Vurp (the only military dictator)
  • Grand Nagus Untz
  • Grand Nagus Twim (outlaws time travel)
  • Grand Nagus Zek (?-2375)
  • Grand Nagus Rom (2375-?)

Other notable Ferengi

Trivia

Ferengi characters made occasional appearances in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and frequent appearances in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (because Quark was a regular character, and both Rom and Nog were recurring characters). Despite Star Trek: Voyager being set so far from known space, they made a few appearances in this series as well; one instance was a continuation of a TNG plot in which a pair of Ferengi were stranded on the far side of a wormhole. The Ferengi made one appearance in Star Trek: Enterprise, though the humans in that episode did not know what race they were, in order to preserve the established continuity that humans first met them much later.

The Ferengi were initially intended to replace the Klingon empire as the "enemy" race of the Federation in TNG. However, in their debut in the first-season episode "The Last Outpost", their comic behavior and appearance underwhelmed audiences. As a result, Paramount negated these plans; the Borg took the Ferengi's intended role. The Ferengi were also depicted as very primitive creatures, but would evolve into somewhat more sophisticated characters with the introduction of Quark on DS9.

Several Ferengi became the only beings to ever break into Fort Knox. When they found it held gold and not gold-pressed latinum, they became distraught and were captured.

Redeeming qualities

The Ferengi realize that Humans and other species often look down on them for their ravenous profiteering and lack of independent technological or cultural achievements. However, Ferengi often see other races as self-righteous and, as Ferengi have come into regular contact with Humans, their own self-image has improved by comparison. While their criticism that Humans took well over 6,000 years to develop a central banking system after the beginning of their civilization may seem lacking in moral force, other arguments can be more convincing.

  • The Ferengi are possibly one of the least belligerent races in the galaxy. Although they have fought skirmishes with other races, they have never been involved in an all-out war. Even on Ferenginar, disputes were almost always settled through extending economic hegemony, rather than through military action.
  • Racism is almost unknown among the Ferengi. Indeed, believing that a Ferengi merchant would refuse to serve anyone because of their race is almost unthinkable -- there would be no profit in it. There has never been any indication that the Ferengi engaged in genocide or apartheid. However it must be pointed out that until the very end of the series, the Ferengi were notorious for their sexism.
  • Revenge and crimes of passion are nearly unknown among the Ferengi -- again, they rarely see any profit in either. The Ferengi idea of revenge is more akin to the human concept of Schadenfreude. Causing your enemy to lose profit, or fail to profit, is considered the best revenge.
  • Despite the goal of vast accumulation of wealth, income mobility among the Ferengi seems to be quite high. A poor Ferengi who has the "lobes for business" will almost certainly rise to great heights. Ferengi society seems to be based on strict meritocracy, and aristocracy, nepotism, oligarchy and dictatorship are almost unknown in Ferengi society. In fact, former Grand Nagus Zek rejected his own son as his successor when the son attempted to assassinate acting Grand Nagus Quark after Zek faked his own death.
  • Although the Ferengi appear to have destroyed their own environment through industrialization (it rains almost consistently over the entire planet), even they have their limits. For example, despite the possible profits from nuclear power, the Ferengi never tested nuclear weapons in their atmosphere. In addition, the Ferengi do not often believe in selling products that are inherently dangerous from regular use, as that would reduce their customer base. For example, the Ferengi invented synthehol for use a harmless substitute for grain alcohol, and were astounded that Humans would allow the sale of cigarettes, which are both addictive and unhealthy.
  • The Ferengi have a strong work ethic, and encourage thrift and saving over conspicuous consumption. When a Ferengi makes a major purchase, it is likely to be something very useful for making further profit. Ferengi make excellent administrators as they are well versed in accounting and inventory procedures, and can often apply these skills to other endeavours.
  • The Ferengi do not appear to appreciate class or have a class system. Even though their status is determined entirely by wealth, the Ferengi would consider it foolish to establish an "upmarket" clientele when there would be profit to be made in selling goods to less fortunate people. In fact, the Ferengi belief in the "Great Material Continuum" often drives them to great length to satisfy a potential customer's needs and to find a market for their goods.
  • Even though the Ferengi appreciate making a profit, they appreciate limits that other races appear to ignore. Arms merchants are tolerated, but Ferengi despise war because it is bad for profit. Ferengi prefer to engage in the practice of selling defensive weaponry to weaker species under attack rather than selling to species that are more belligerent. Moreover, the Ferengi have never had slavery, and despite the profits other races such as the Orions have made in the slave trade, having an entire class of people who would be unable to purchase goods makes the practice unsavory in Ferengi society.

Reference

External links

nl:Ferengi

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