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Author Topic: On the Naming of Worlds  (Read 6555 times)

Offline JMack

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Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2015, 12:50:29 PM »
Different people on earth call themselves by different words and expression. Some might call their people "the children of the mother earth" or somesuch.

I think the most crazy example is Native Indian people. Did you know that Mohawk people are not called that at all, but Kanien'kehá - meaning People of the Flint place. They're a tribe of Iroquois. The name Mohawk originated as a sort of insulting name given to them by their Algonquian neighbours. I've heard different versions of the meaning behind Mohawk, but wikipedia says the nickname was meant to call the "People of the Flint Place" the "Bear people" and the dutch phonetically wrote this down as Mohawk.

That kind of stuff is all over the place. Like what Iroquois means in french! We call some indians that, without knowing french men derived it from the algonquian word "snake people".  ;D

I think referring to a world by giving it a name is a bit a geeky commodity, making things easier to have your geeky discussions.
I see no reasons why an author should go the extra way to give a name to his world. If there is a kingdom or a planet name, or a character name that pops out, the geeks will do the rest.

Look at the Enders series, starting with Enders' game. We call it Enders series or saga, right?
Even though it's a sort of space opera, it's called by the MC's name.

I think worrying about that kind of things is pointless. What needs to happen will happen. But naming a planet with a weird meaning local name is probably a trap many Fantasy writers fall in, along with super complicated random over-naming of places you see typically in bad sword and sorcery.

Boulet kind of nails this issue there : http://english.bouletcorp.com/2010/05/21/fantasy/

Absolutely. Makes me want to go back to what i wrote yesterday and replace every name with "Blue Land", "Bright Star" and "Snake Pit". Etc.

Plus, the cartoon nails another irritating Thing. I should do another post:

On the Capitalization of Fantasy Things

It's how I often see things in Catholic and other other Christian writing: If it's Captialized, it must be Important!
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Online ScarletBea

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Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2015, 12:53:10 PM »
They're learning from German, hehe

Actually I have a colleague (English) that does that in his variance analysis, capitalises All the Key Words which is very Annoying ;D
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Offline Raptori

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Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2015, 01:36:38 PM »
It's how I often see things in Catholic and other other Christian writing: If it's Captialized, it must be Important!
I like that catholic and christian are capitalised, like the other totally important fantasy things.  :P
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Offline tebakutis

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Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2015, 04:11:09 PM »
Quote
It's how I often see things in Catholic and other other Christian writing: If it's Captialized, it must be Important!

Haha. I used to be *so* bad about this in my fiction. Capitalizing too many things is one of those habits where you don't realize you're doing it (the Wit! The Gift! The Chantry!) until you read a paragraph about your book's lore and 1/4 of the worlds are capitalized. It's a really tough habit to break because you're so invested in calling out whatever cool idea you've created for the reader, but most of the time, it's not necessary.


Offline Lor

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Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2015, 04:13:54 PM »
I try and limit myself to only capitalising given names, be they to a person, object or concept. Like my pirates often tell the time by what winds or tides are blowing, so those get capitalised, but if they're just talking about the weather in general, I don't bother.

It can be tricky though; you want people to know what is important in your world, but stylistic choices can just as easy throw the eye off the page as something badly written. Oh the struggles we face! :D
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Offline NightWrite

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Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #20 on: July 20, 2015, 04:50:01 PM »
I have a few different worlds I use as settings for stories, so naming each helps me identify them. Even if the characters just call it earth or the land, I have those names for my own reference.

Naming worlds can be helpful in organizing and separating them, but some can get carried away for the sake of uniqueness. Persinally, when I create names uniqueness isn't the highest priority. The highest is doing a quick Google search, to make sure I'm not insulting someone in another language.

On capitalization I try to keep it toned down. At the moment it's just names, places, and a few concepts.

Offline donalddallan

Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #21 on: July 20, 2015, 06:02:28 PM »
As humans going about our daily business we seldom think of the "Earth" unless we are having a conversation about global warming or New Horizons. 500 years ago I would surmise even less so.
In a fantasy setting (and in my humble opinion), the people are rural, simple, living in an England from 500 years ago. In my mind at least it is that kind of setting. Regardless, for fantasy, I think it is natural to discuss your "world" from the POV of your character's view which is likely the country/county/village/town they are currently standing in. Anything else and you might suspend belief.
My two cents.
 
And: the rules on capitalization is pretty solid. <grin>
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Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #22 on: July 20, 2015, 06:11:20 PM »
Donald reminded me of an interesting point: We may not consciously call our planet Earth right now, but what about in the future if we start colonizing other systems? We will be Earthlings. We will call our place Earth.

I guess you could somehow transfer that thinking if you had other planes of existence for a Fantasy novel.

I had some other thoughts on linguistics and translating from "Alien" to reader/English/Your Mother Tongue for the sake of readability, and that it can sometimes be necessary information (not that I've ever named my planet in any of my works) but my mind is a little fried right now so I'll let others fill in the blanks for me. :)
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Offline Lor

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Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2015, 06:14:34 PM »
Donald reminded me of an interesting point: We may not consciously call our planet Earth right now, but what about in the future if we start colonizing other systems? We will be Earthlings. We will call our place Earth.

I guess you could somehow transfer that thinking if you had other planes of existence for a Fantasy novel.

I had some other thoughts on linguistics and translating from "Alien" to reader/English/Your Mother Tongue for the sake of readability, and that it can sometimes be necessary information (not that I've ever named my planet in any of my works) but my mind is a little fried right now so I'll let others fill in the blanks for me. :)

I hadn't thought about it from a translator's PoV (how awful, considering I'm a Japanese translator!), but that brings up an interesting point. An alien culture is going to have different ideas on what is important what is not, and how to show that in speech etc. could cause problems. Capitalisation is a good way of showing where the emphasis lies in a phrase.

There are probably more eloquent ways of putting that, but hey.
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Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2015, 06:17:40 PM »
Donald reminded me of an interesting point: We may not consciously call our planet Earth right now, but what about in the future if we start colonizing other systems? We will be Earthlings. We will call our place Earth.

I guess you could somehow transfer that thinking if you had other planes of existence for a Fantasy novel.

I had some other thoughts on linguistics and translating from "Alien" to reader/English/Your Mother Tongue for the sake of readability, and that it can sometimes be necessary information (not that I've ever named my planet in any of my works) but my mind is a little fried right now so I'll let others fill in the blanks for me. :)

I hadn't thought about it from a translator's PoV (how awful, considering I'm a Japanese translator!), but that brings up an interesting point. An alien culture is going to have different ideas on what is important what is not, and how to show that in speech etc. could cause problems. Capitalisation is a good way of showing where the emphasis lies in a phrase.

There are probably more eloquent ways of putting that, but hey.

Could explain the bastardization of Medieval Europe that was so rampant back in the day, in that all these writers are translating stories in a way that makes sense to us.

I think it would be a good discussion for books such as Kraken.

But as I said, I don't know how you'd approach that from a necessity to relay the world's name, other than to say this is second-world fantasy. From a practical standpoint at least.
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Offline HAnthe

Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2015, 07:47:20 PM »
There's another reason to name a fantasy world: if it's part of a larger realm scheme like, say, the nine realms of Norse cosmology.  In their case, the realm of humans was Midgard, as opposed to all the other realms connected to Yggdrasil.  So for any story where you have multiple realms (like Faerie, some kind of underworld, etc), you have the option of naming the normal-place-you're-in-that's-not-one-of-those-other-places.  That might not be the name of the planet, especially if the society isn't at a technological level to know what a planet is, but it still has a use in the story, to say 'we're here rather than there'.  We're on Earth, not in Faerie!

I have a lot of realms, and they have names.  That being said, people don't much use the name for the baseline realm; if they don't realm-travel, they're not likely to know it.

Offline Roxxsmom

Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #26 on: July 29, 2015, 05:05:34 AM »
It makes sense for a fantasy world to have a fanciful name if it's colonized, or a portal world or something, where the pov character or narrator is an outsiders to said world. But if you look at what various pre-industrial cultures have called our world, to the best of my knowledge, names like "the world," or "dirt" or "the land" seem to be common. And the word Earth to refer to land, dirt, or the world predates our concept of "The Earth" as one planet among many.

If one wants to come up with a plausible name for an entire world that would be used by the members of a fantasy culture, I suppose it might be interesting to research different historical cultures and civilizations and see what word, if any, they used when they discussed the concept of the entire known world, the globe, or the entire thing they thought sat on a turtle's back etc. I'm guessing that a large civilization that does a lot of trading and/or conquering would be more likely to have a word for the whole kit 'n kaboodle than a more isolated culture, but maybe not.

Local lands and countries are often named for their dominant people (and sometimes names for a given people simply mean "the people" as well), or some distinct geographic feature (the land of the red earth)

There are a bunch of books called "Atlas of True Names," which give possible translations for various place names in Europe, the Americas, Asia etc. Warning, some of these are just guesses.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/map_of_the_week/2013/07/map_literal_meanings_of_places_in_the_u_s.html


I decided to go simple with my fantasy world--the almost never mentioned name for the entire place (the place has sea travel between continents and an awareness that the world is round at this point in its history) simply means "the world" in one of the conlanged classic languages.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2015, 05:13:00 AM by Roxxsmom »

Offline K.S. Crooks

Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2015, 12:34:49 AM »
You should clarify whether you mean naming a "world" or "country" because some places you call worlds are only countries in their world. Narnia is a country in a different realm/world. There are other countries, which are mentioned in the stories and shown on the map at the beginning of all the Narnia books.
In my stories I have named countries since people travel to different places in the fantasy world. I would only name an entire world if it's a story where people/beings are travelling through space to different planets.
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Offline ultamentkiller

Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #28 on: August 08, 2015, 07:32:24 AM »
Naming is less important for your characters, and more important for your readers. I think Sanderson handles it very well. If I remember correctly, the only characters that know any of the world's names are ones that are highly educated. There's bound to be references to the Cosmere in all those books they read.

Offline YordanZh

Re: On the Naming of Worlds
« Reply #29 on: August 08, 2015, 11:39:28 AM »
In my native Bulgarian language we don't have a word for Earth. We just call it Land, that's all. And it's the same with many other languages, English is one of the fewer ones that actually have a separate word "Earth". Most of those names for Earth come from different religions, while others' origins are still unclear. But if I were to create a fiction world and name it, I'd put the roots of the name into religion.

That being said, I've created one world so far (one book - one world) and I didn't name it at all. The people that the story is about just have a very specific religion (centric to the plot) that would make any names irrelevant and plain stupid. Once I finish my next book in that world however, I'll have a name for it, because that book will be through another nation's eyes. Even then however it won't be one unified name that all races/nations will share, like in Tolkien so I won't be able to use it to make my world and books "easier to remember" for the reader. Instead I'm thinking of a name similar to "Discworld", that actually won't be used at all by any of the characters (yes, I know Discworld's characters use it), but we'll see how that goes.