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The Federation encountered the Tamarians seven times prior to 2368, but were never able to break the language barrier. In that year, Tamarian Captain Dathon beamed himself and Starfleet Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise-D to the surface of planet El-Adrel IV, in hopes that a shared conflict would lead to mutual understanding and friendship. During this encounter, it was determined that the Tamarians communicated exclusively through cultural metaphors. Though Dathon was killed on the planet, the contact marked the opening of communication between the two cultures. (TNG episode: "Darmok")
The progress made in relations with the Tamarians following this breakthrough was considered one of the noteworthy accomplishments of Federation President Jaresh-Inyo and his administration. (ST novel: Articles of the Federation)
It was later learned that the Tamarians have a second language, used for conveying precise engineering concepts such as numbers, equations and instructions, thus explaining how Tamarians can effectively operate starships. This second language is very musical and sounds almost like singing. (TNG short story: "Friends With the Sparrows")
- While the Script, Star Trek.com and Memory Alpha use the term "Children of Tama," the SCE story and Articles of the Federation uses "Children of Tamar."