Thursday, 15 January 2015

Languages and Names



Hey all,

A warning, I am super tired, and so this post might not quite be up to my normal quality levels. I’ve tried editing it a bit, but, words hard—talk good next time.

So I wrote a post earlier tonight… and when I was done I realized that I couldn’t post it. I ended up talking all about the languages used in the new book, and how the words stemmed from different roots in various cultures and this and that. When I was finished, I had ended up with most definitely one giant spoiler of a pretty central focus of Dreamstate II. I tried a couple times over to remove the spoiler bits, but just wound up with a page of me saying “I can’t tell you this/that but…” It sucked. After about forty-five minutes of not getting it to work, I gave up. I’ll probably just post the first version once the book comes out, but until then I think I’m giving away more than I’d like. I’ve toiled away in secret for too long to not have the fun of getting back reader reactions when they hit the new stuff.

So let’s talk more about names. I think, a long time ago I wrote a bit on the names of my characters, but it wasn’t too much. I believe I talked a bit about the cultural connotations of names like Daniel, and how some of the names of creatures in the new book were tied to real world places and events. The mounts commonly ridden in the new dreamstate are called buhen, which is a site where the first (or at least very early) example of horse adoption (use) happened in Egypt. I think it was Egypt… maybe.

Most of the time however, at least for me, names are chosen due to the mouthfeel of the word. I’ve talked about mouthfeel before, where a word has a sound that is like what it means. For instance, the swee’flit is fast and lithe, and their name feels the same way when I say it. I very well might be a bit of a crazy person and no one else thinks the same, but at least it my mind it all lines up. Most of the Fal are named in the same way. I know what the person is going to be like, and I want a name that sounds the way they are. I also want readers to accept the fact that it’s a name, so generally I start with something real world and work from there, messing with letters until it’s distinct enough to be mine, but still recognizable. J’anex, for instance, is clearly alien and makes use of the Fal apostrophes and x’s, but still sits right as a name. I came up with the name years ago, so I’m not quite sure what the initial root was, but at one point it was an Earth name until I got my hands on it.

This might just be the worst explanation of how I make up names ever, but I had to cut out all the stuff about languages (which was most of my post). Really, though, most of the time I just like the way things sound. If it happens to line up with something real world, awesome, if not, that’s just as fine. As long as I’m happy with it, I think that’s the most important part.

-Trevor

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