1. eclectic1993
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    eclectic1993 Member

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    Making up names of characters and places?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by eclectic1993, Nov 16, 2012.

    Hi,
    I've decided to use some ancient Hebrew names and words (English spellings) for some characters and a few places in a novel. However, I would like the freedom to simply make up stuff. There will be various provinces, cities, gods, uncles, animals, rivers, goods, etc. that will require naming.

    For example, if I have a 'T-Rex (Tyrannosaurus Rex)' in my story of ancient earth, the characters certainly wouldn't call it a 'T-Rex'. I could uses terms such as monster, beast, leviathan, dragon, etc. If I have a dozen different types then the word monster might become a bit overused.

    Or another example, creating a pedigree for several characters, royal members, etc. would require dozens of 'made up' names.

    For those of you that have written fantasy-type stories, how did you manage this? I could write a random name generator using phonetic sounds (phonemes) or find a detailed ancient Hebrew lexicon.

    Thanks for your input.

    Regards,
    Chuck
     
  2. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    Heh, I don't really put much thought into it. I figure each region has its own distinct sounding names (but I avoid making them too similar), and then I just think of names for a character until I find one that sounds right. At the very most, finding a name will take me around ten minutes.
    I wouldn't worry too much about the naming of things. I believe that you should only name something in the world if it is somehow part of the story. However, going crazy with all of the terminology and whatnot can be rather entertaining - just know that you won't be getting much actual story in.
     
  3. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    Sometimes I use movie credits to cull names from.
     
  4. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    Oh, haha, I've done this too!

    In terms of the question posed, the beauty of fiction is that you don't have to follow ethnocentric naming traditions like we might do in the 'real world' or have your names, places, etc, follow any particular pattern. If you want all names to begin with 'F' then that's fine. You can use old Hebrew names or make up names. You don't need to justify your name choices in the context of the 'real world.' You may have to justify them in terms of your created world but that's something that should come out as the story unfolds. The only thing you should probably avoid is creating names that have 26 letters and are so difficult to pronounce that the reader is constantly jarred by it.

    Whatever comes natural.
     
  5. eclectic1993
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    eclectic1993 Member

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    Hi,
    You're right about the potential of getting bogged down and not getting any writing completed. I've got nine days off from work now, and instead of writing I'm wrestling with naming style and a basic lexicon.

    Movie credits, and I suppose any listing of names on the internet could work. I'm a programmer so I could easily waste a week building a random name generator. I must admit that sounds more interesting that writing my first chapter. =)

    Last night I found my old Strong's concordance. It contains gazillions of English words and their referenced Strong's number correlating to the ancient Hebrew word. I think what I can do is to cull names, adjectives, places into a list. As ithestargazer suggests, I could then create words that fit the real words.

    Thank you
     
  6. eclectic1993
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    eclectic1993 Member

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    Hi,
    I needed an ancient name for a creature similar to a velocirapor. I found two ancient Hebrew words: taphar (claw) and koach (small reptile). NOTE: I may have these switched. I asked my wife for help and she suggested Tapharcoa (s) and Tapharcoim (pl). I gave them a whirl today and they seemed to work.

    I then needed a derogatory word used by giant (8-10 feet tall) people against normal sized people. The Hebrew word for grasshopper was 'Chasil'. So I created 'Chasilites'. That seemed to work too.

    Regards,
    Chuck
     
  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Interesting! I always thought the names had to have some kind of background, or meaning.

    In my fantasy, some of my characters have names that can be found from Slavic Russia, India, Japan (Ikipu, for instance), and I even have names that come from old Celtic/Norse societies. I suppose that's OK, as long as the names can be pronounced.

    But still, assuming the setting isn't a 'breadbasket country', wouldn't characters have their own naming style for their own countries? Like a German parent generally won't give their kid an English-sounding name, but rather a German one as, well, they're from Germany.

    My problem is that I like to just make up names, and if they fit and can be spoken without trouble, that's all good for me. But then I read that names have to be carefully chosen, and they have to sound like they all came from the same place. For example, one of my characters has a Slavic-like name, but the names of her parents sound like they're from India and Japan, when they're all supposd to be from one fictional country. Should I instead change the parents name to a more Slavic/Russian name instead?

    @ Eclectic1993- Well, I agree with your wife. Tapharcoa sounds like a perfect name for your creature. xD
     
  8. eclectic1993
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    eclectic1993 Member

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    Hi,
    I imagine an American or British author could create all sorts of names that do not sound 'western' that has the phonemes and cadence in pronunciation that sounds appealing. If the novel is published into another language I believe these proper names of fictional people and places might be 'preserved' while the rest of the script is translated as required for the target native reader.

    I suppose such names when read might be offensive and vulgar in that language, or have another connotation. For example, if the hero's name is "Krank" and it is published in German the author might want to create another name since it means "sick", or a whimsical creature named "Fek" that is read by a young Irish child. =)

    Regards,
    Chuck
     
  9. aljosa
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    aljosa New Member

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    I replied to a similar topic yesterday and I think it applies to this situation as well: http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=57825&p=963199&viewfull=1#post963199

    In your case, I'd make the phonetic system of the second language identical to Ancient Hebrew and just make up insane amounts of rules detailing language change from English to that phonetic system until the original English words are unrecognizable. Then I'd throw out or modify anything not conforming to Ancient Hebrew syllable structure and that would be it.

    Or you could just use a random word generator.

    Still, I didn't like this complete randomness as much as my limited expedition into conlanging. :)
     
  10. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    When I was thinking of names for my second novel, in the main I wanted them to have a distinctly English sound, so I did a few things:

    1. Take a known English word or name, and change, add or delete one or two letters. So take the word 'reaction' - by removing the 'e' I get 'raction'. Or a name like 'John', change the 'o' to 'e', get 'Jehn'.

    2. Spoonerisms - that is, take two words and swap one or more letters at the beginning (or end) to give different words. In my second novel I took 'London Bridge' and 'Cannon Street' (both railway stations in London, UK) and they became 'Brondon Lidge' and 'Stannon Creet'. I then modified the letters a bit more and swapped the words around and got 'Brundun Creet' and 'Stannon Lidge'.

    3. Combine words - I took 'Mel' and 'Jo' and got 'Meljo'.

    I dare say the same could be done with any language, not just English.
     
  11. normalzebra
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    normalzebra New Member

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    I use some of the same techniques as Ian J. as well as basically changing the names of real places and using little accented tones and some letter changes to suit the environment, for example I have written about a place called Ibn-Zedad based on Baghdad and just took it from there!

    Oh and also you can try to find some names they used in morrowind (the game) cause I remember they had oodles of names for their NPC's...

    :p I hope this helps..
     
  12. SGTGerman
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    SGTGerman Member

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    This is what have started and I ccan't begin to describe how much it has helped embolden the different cultures that make up the piece I'm writing currently.
     

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