1. jack_of_hearts_06
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    jack_of_hearts_06 New Member

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    Foreign names in fantasy?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by jack_of_hearts_06, Jul 19, 2008.

    I've been working on a story for a while. The story is set in a fictional world that strongly resembles a medieval Arabia/Persia. The story also has characters that come from an eastern kingdom modeled after ancient Japan. The problem that I was running across is the names of the characters.

    I could easily look up common Arabic and Japanese names. But since the land isn't actually Arabia/Japan, the characters wouldn't actually speak these languages that the names are from. Also, I'd hate to make a mistake and use a name for a character that refers to an actual event/person/place that wouldn't exist in the story. My second option would be to just make up names that sound like something from those areas, but I normally find making up names to be an easy and sloppy way out (I'm a stickler for researching before I write). Third, I could just give them English names, but then I would feel that the names are out of place from the setting, even though the setting is completely fictional.

    If anyone has any thoughts or comments or has come across this problem themselves, I would love some advice/help.
     
  2. Asuran
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    Asuran Member

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    I would make names up, but try to set rules for yourself on each culture's language. For example, an Arabic name sounds a whole lot different than a Chinese name. And, one can usually tell if a name is Chinese or Arabic without seeing the person. Perhaps one culture's language uses mostly hard consonants (k, t, d, etc.), maybe one language is made up of many, many root words, and so each name sounds alike in that they all use these root words.
     
  3. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I too think making them up would be the only way to go, if you want to strive for a sort of "fictional authenticity." You say you like to research, so perhaps researching the language and names of these cultures can help you pick suitable names? And/or you can create syllables that sound similar to existing names and place them together in different orders to create nonsense names that still sound vaguely authentic.

    When all else fails, you can try an online random fantasy name generator, though I imagine you'd really have to sift through the results to find names that sound appropriate!
     
  4. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I believe that you should make it up yourself using your own criteria. You could give them english names but spelled backwards ex:
    Thomas
    Samoht

    Jasmine
    Enimsaj

    The names look foreign enough to fit into a setting like you describe and you could use real life languages for some trickeier names. Basicaly with something like Enimsaj pronounce the "j" like an "h" and there you go.
     
  5. Harmire
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    Harmire Member

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    Well, first you have to imagine what the language would sound like. Have the "Japanese" sound like this, "Xij huji jinhux nunix"(You are the strongest warrior). After that, the names would sound like this, "Xi'nuj, Hunj'ix, Nunjix". Most of the names would have an apostrophe put in so as to separate names from normal language. Notice how the last one doesn't though, this is because it is derived from the word "ninux", which means warrior. So, that person's name loosely means warrior.

    Then, the "Arabs" would sound like this, "Shnak duvi lanok dun"(The horizon darkens). Notice how this language has more variety to it, its because they were more exposed to the world, rather than the more isolated "Japanese". Then we make the names, "Tush'in, Van'adu, Danok". As with the "Japanese" names, most of them have apostrophes. This is because the languages have a distant root that connects them. Also, the last one, "Danok", is a loose version of "Lanok", which means horizon.

    All of this is just made up though, but you can see how with practice, you can easily develop an ethnic group's language and names for your fantasy world.
     
  6. Klee
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    Klee Contributing Member

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    That's not Japanese Harmire. The Japanese language is structured by syllables (ka, ke, ki, never 'k' alone, only the 'n' is ever alone and only featured at the end of words).
     
  7. Harmire
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    Harmire Member

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    I thought the OP wanted something fake.
     
  8. spiritwriter
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    spiritwriter New Member

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    I would look up the common names that fit into the Arabic and Japanese Cultures we have now. Then, play off of those and make your own. Pretty much like everyone has already said, I would take a look at how their languages work, once you have a pretty good understanding of that see if you can develop your own.
     

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