March 21, 2019, 08:07:43 AM

Author Topic: Fantasy names  (Read 1521 times)

Online ScarletBea

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Fantasy names
« on: June 08, 2018, 05:33:05 PM »
I'm curious.
How do you create your names? People, places or things, how do you go about inventing names?
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Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2018, 07:17:33 PM »
I waffle endlessly.

Offline Yora

Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2018, 07:17:47 PM »
I always start with picking a language that has interesting sounding names, look up lists of common names in that language, and write down any that I like. These serve as my references for common syllables, length of names, and male and female endings. To create my own names, I simply make up new ones that somewhat follow those patterns.

It gets you names that sound like they could be actual names, and even more importantly help with making up numerous names that all sound like they come from the same culture. (Because they do.)

In addition, apostrophes are cheesy, but hyphens are classy.  :D

Offline JMack

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Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2018, 07:31:13 PM »
Unless I have a strong real-worlds cultural touchpoint (The Fishwife’s Tale, Monsoon Dragon), I default to putting twists on English and English-sounding names. It’s actually quite unsatisfactory to me as a writer \, but for the most part my brief stories don’t require more.

I think there’s a general, unspoken agreement among readers to accept whatever the writer throws out there as names. But, if the writer really invests in making it all seem logical and culturally relevant/interesting, then the reader grants brownie points.

Or maybe I just have easy standards.  ;D
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Offline Eli_Freysson

Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2018, 07:58:28 PM »
Honestly, for mostly characters I just make up words until I arrive at something that is pronounceable and not too silly. I'm enjoying a bit of luxury right now with my Victorian London-expy fantasy/horror, as I can just use English names.

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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2018, 04:01:56 AM »
This will sound weird, but I have several major approaches. The most complex involves using suffixes we are sort of familiar with, but adjusting them. I am prone to following / varying linguistic rules that most actual languages follow much/most of the time. I try to vary them with making them too hard to pronounce. The goal with names is to be distinct one from another, subtly suggest things, and hint at "more" in the worldbuilding context.
I play with names - it's a chance to dance with sounds and structures that appeal to my ear and eye. So far as I know, no one else enjoys words this way. If I can use/twist actual usage, all the better. My time in Germany gave me a love for hard Hs, and I lean toward them whenever I am not paying attention: Strachtus (abuse of the Russian word for 'fear'), Richtus (suggestive of rictus) are some examples. But most of the time, I prefer words that have Greek or Latin features (or features of languages that are closely related to these, like Russian, in their patterns and derivations), although I dabble with Arabic and Persian.

My world is Ardialtis, which is an interesting bucket of inconsistent linguistic ideas: Ard (earth) + I (connective vowel as in many languages) + altis (variation of Latin alter ‘other.’) So "Other-Earth", although Altis is desperately close to Alt, German for "old".

I have a region called Aedasti, filled with Aedastians, and these terms adhere to some languages speakers of English are subtly exposed to, but varies (butchers) some linguistic principles along the way.

I love mixing specific sounds, such as in the word "Corinthian" a word I've always loved the feel and sound of. My protag's name Kelithren features one of my favorite mixings th + r.

Russian is a great language to use as a model, as it is "middle aged", whereas English is very young, despite the age of its roots. Arabic, the other language I've studied is old, meaning it remains very closely tied to its origins, which makes for awkward constructions and redundancies. Russian is closer to its roots than English, and less diverse in its origins, so one can use those roots reliably. Unlike in English, one can guess quite accurately what a derivation would be in Russian without falling off track. In English, a speaker works - one who speaks. But a teller? Not someone who tells - it's someone who works at a bank.

The great beings in my world's antiquity are the Velikai, an abuse of Russian "great" in its superlative "most great" form. As analogs to the Valar, I like near-spelling but alien sounds.

Anyway, I suppose the short answer is I make names by playing.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 04:16:42 AM by The Gem Cutter »
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Online ScarletBea

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Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2018, 08:45:34 AM »
I'm loving these replies!

@Henry Dale, please come share your language - Ashorvaed requests of you :D
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Offline Peat

Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2018, 10:58:27 AM »
There's a number of ways I do it, from adapting other languages, to half-inventing, to mangling the nearest name in eye's range, to recording interesting typos I make at work (one day I'll find a use for veiokat), to doing a lot of homages. Depends what I'm doing and the mood I'm in really.
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Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2018, 12:02:47 PM »

For major figures (and to add some symbolism) I've used history and myth to name my characters. I was sort of counting on the casual reader not noticing, if it's obvious it might take people out of the story when they notice the parallel unless I can come up with some story explanation.... But "the Cardinal" or "Cardinal Richelos" is one of the bad guys just like Cardinal Richelieu, there's references to the Leviathan which is meant to be a symbol for Hobbes, but then I got sloppy with some of the others in which the characters have similar traits but aren't full symbols: Ashtoreth, El'Nafis, Gog and Magog became O'gog and Magog, Tiamat became Tehamat, Belenos is from Beleos etc.

When I initially wrote my book I just made up names at random but now I'm trying to follow some cultural lines: one country is English/Welsh, another Greco-Roman another is Arabic.  But I"m getting super lazy with that too.I just royally suck at the whole thing and find it extremely vexing and sometimes wish someone else would just name everyone for me. :)

Offline Henry Dale

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Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2018, 12:31:21 PM »
Well obviously different cultures have different ways of forming names. Have a culture based on ancient sanskrit (with dragons) or a vietnamese magical culture for example.
In these cases we get terminology like Ekur or Bình.

The language bea is talking about is my Immortal language though which isn't actually based on an existing one.
It uses syllables that represent a semantic field of their own.
Little example of a name:
The Gem Cutter would be Limriari. (stone + change + he + suffix)

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2018, 04:12:38 PM »
The Gem Cutter would be Limriari. (stone + change + he + suffix)
And just how does one pronounce that? LIMriAri? LimRIari? Your approach is interesting and yields a crazily vowel-rich product: 50% vowels is a LOT!
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Offline JMack

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Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2018, 05:41:24 PM »
The Gem Cutter would be Limriari. (stone + change + he + suffix)
And just how does one pronounce that? LIMriAri? LimRIari? Your approach is interesting and yields a crazily vowel-rich product: 50% vowels is a LOT!

It’s obviously “lim-ree-AR-ee”.
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Offline Henry Dale

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Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2018, 05:57:18 PM »
Jmack has the right approach.
Pronunciation of longer words builds up towards a single stressed point (up to the third syllable and never the last) and slides down from there (similar to Greek). The meaningless suffix - i is often used if it would be the last one. (just like this case)
Have been considering adding accents for pronunciation but not sure it's needed.

(inb4 "it's leviOsa" btw)  ;D
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 06:00:03 PM by Henry Dale »

Offline Neveesandeh

Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2018, 09:39:18 PM »
The series I just finished drafting is set in a world where the main culture is a mix of German and Iranian influences. The names I used are just mixtures of Iranic and Germanic names. Sometimes they fit together and create great names. Sometimes they don't, and a few characters need renaming. There's a minor character who got the name 'Khaflip'. Part of that comes from Dutch, the other I think from Ossetian. He's first on the renaming list.

The idea was that they started as separate cultures and blended together. I'm not sure how realistic it is for the two cultures to mix names like that (not very, I imagine), but so long as the names sound good, I'll be happy with them.

Offline SugoiMe

Re: Fantasy names
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2018, 10:58:33 PM »
I use my knowledge of jibberish, which I was fluent in between the ages of 0 and 4, to come up with new words and names. I try a bunch of different sounds and see how they go together. I also have been creating a language and I use words from that to create names for one of the cultures.
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