1. Slade Lucas
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    Slade Lucas Member

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    Naming Fanatasy Creatures

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Slade Lucas, Jul 18, 2014.

    I have started to write a story based on a different planet and I have called this planet Unnamed. Don't ask why, it's a long story. Naming, however, is really the dilemma that I have - I am struggling to decide how to name the creatures that reside on this world.

    I'll give you a few of examples. There is a creature that is essentially a pterodactyl except it has a round, hard head with a single eye and it can breath fire. Originally I called this creature a Trakee. Just a totally random word, really. I also tried this with a tree-like creature, which I called a Pelaka, and a reptilian creature called the Rabor.

    Eventually, though, I decided to go for a different method of naming. The Trakee was changed to the Dakee, hopefully making it sound more like a pterodactyl. The Rabor became the Rabile, keeping the first syllable (to try and suggest its rage) but changing the last part to sound more like reptile than boar. The Pelaka had the most drastic name change, becoming the Branik (sort of trying to sound like a branch, maybe even having a sound like dry wood). The only worry I have is that making them sound like real, human words will make it sound a little less convincing, or something like that. The thing I want to know is - does it? Were my original names or new names better? I've also done something similar with the names of the characters.
     
  2. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    i like the new names myself.

    a little advice from here, if they are entirely new races, it doesnt really matter if they sound human, becasue well, they arent! i have an elf/Orc/Wraith hybrid called an Ěeouc, obviously there was some element of using the parent races that swayed the decision name wise, but the name should suggest that this thing isnt human
     
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  3. Slade Lucas
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    Slade Lucas Member

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    Thanks. I suppose that the reason I decided to give them names with human words in them was because there are humans in this story. Of course, they are very different from the humans of Earth (except the main character, who is from Earth) but they still speak the same language. But I suppose if the new names are better then there's nothing to worry about.
     
  4. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    The names sound fine, but I find books that are overdone with 'foreign' words to be an arduous read. Obviously races are important in fantasy, but otherwise peppered in is just right.
     
  5. Chaos Inc.
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    Chaos Inc. Active Member

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    Do some research on etymology if you so desire. This will help you think of how words come into being and evolve into what they are now. Most words aren't random, they sometimes are derived from the sounds they make in action. Remember, most of our words were originated by people a long time ago.
     
  6. benmetcalfe8
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    benmetcalfe8 Member

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    If you really need to, you can just give them names that a particular race nicknames them. Though I imagine you're trying to craft a larger world rather than one consisting of nicknames?

    But your current names are good.
     
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  7. Slade Lucas
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    Slade Lucas Member

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    Some creatures have nicknames - there are a race of humans called the Human X which everyone just calls the X. There are the floating, crystalline creatures which are called the Orbs because no one, not even the Orbs themselves, know exactly what they are. And there are the creatures made of dark matter which one of the characters decides to call Shadowssassins. Other than that the rest of the creatures just take their real names.
     
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  8. NanashiNoProfile
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    NanashiNoProfile Member

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    Nicknames are good! I spent ages trying to think up names for my antagonistic characters. There are two types: a very tall one and a very small one. They are known by several names colloquially throughout the part of the world that the story takes place in, as the setting takes place in a time after these creatures have decimated the population. Being relatively unknown, people weren't able to spend enough time together to create or know their real name. My main character simply refers to them as Spindles (the tall ones) and Stumps (the small ones). When he learns their real names, he retains his own naming conventions to spite them. Other people pick up on this and their fear of them is tempered by calling them such things.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Maybe you could find some kind of naming convention, say names from the Cambrian as the base words (just for the starting place) but then alter them to make new words.
     
  10. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    Your readers are real humans who use real human words, so why would a word they can pronounce and identify with make your story less convincing? Just because it's off-planet doesn't mean you can't relate to your readers like humans. Alien worlds become alien through the dynamics of the planet which may mirror our own in some respects with a few radical changes and twists. If the whole thing, every aspect is completely alien it's hard for a reader to identify with it and imagine it.
     
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  11. J.W.Exeter
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    J.W.Exeter Member

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    I get a lot of nicknames flying around at my work. A couple things I've found to be very consistent is such :

    Nicknames between friends will almost always be something friendly, satirical, or completely obvious about the other person.

    Nicknames between enemies will almost always say something obnoxious about the other person, usually something obvious or particularly distasteful for the other.

    Nicknames between mutual rivals are the only ones that sometimes might contain a bit of respect, but otherwise they usually are more like Nicknames between enemies.

    I remember this one specific steel worker whom nobody in our crew liked. We called him Grimace on account of his perpetually-sour face.

    background will also generate plenty of Nicknames. I've often been called Brazilian Connection, Brazilian Sensation, the Brazilian and just plain Brazil by a good number of my friends just cause I'm pretty much one of the only authentic Brazilians they've ever met.

    When I was in high school, this obnoxious boy whom I very much considered my Enemy, used to call me Mexican to piss me off. An annoyingly-effective nickname, to my disdain.
     
  12. sunsplash
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    sunsplash Bona fide beach bum

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    Your first set and your new set both sound fine to me because they are easily to pronounce. I've found that when reading anything with created words, be it creatures, places, names, whatever, if they are too obscure just for the sake of looking alien or foreign and make me stumble and struggle repeatedly, I will get annoyed and stop reading. I think you've managed creative without being kr8tyv and I appreciate that. :)
     
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  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel that I need more background on this planet. Was it colonized by people from Earth, speaking English? Or is Earth not part of the background, and you're just using English because creating a new language would be far too much trouble? (I agree that it would be far too much trouble; I'm not criticizing you there.)

    If it was colonized by people from Earth speaking English, I would expect the new creatures to be named using Earth conventions. And, really, some of those conventions would make sense even without a colonization background. If I think of various names, they seem to be formed in various ways:

    Cat: An old word, borrowed and changed and borrowed and changed, so it doesn't have any obvious origin in another word.
    Wildcat: An adjective added to an old word.
    Siamese cat: An old word, plus a place of origin.
    German Shepherd: A place of origin, plus a function.
    Goldfish: Again, an adjective added to an old word.
    Catfish: Two old words.
    Terrier: If you dig back, this translates as "earth dog". But we've forgotten that origin in everyday use.
    Scottish Terrier, "Scottie": A place name attached to a word composed of two old words, and then we nicknamed with the place name.

    So if I were you, I'd compose names using English words that describe various elements of the creature's nature. If the fire-breathing creature snuffles along the ground, I might call it a ground dragon or dragon terrier, for example. If it eats grass, I might call it a fire cow. If it pulls a wagon, a sparkmule or a fire ox. And so on.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014
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  14. CastleEra
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    CastleEra Member

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    An interesting thing about names for characters and races is that if your story and writing are strong people will remember the strange names regardless. I wonder if Tolkien ever thought that names like Frodo, Legolas, or even the Nasgul were too strange sounding to ever be taken seriously. But here we are today saying them like they were always meant to be. Don't be too hung up if you think a work sounds too silly to you.
     
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  15. Slade Lucas
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    Slade Lucas Member

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    This planet is not Earth and neither was it colonised by people from Earth - it is, however, similar to it. Long story short, it's in another universe, a twin universe to our universe, and this means that the two planets (Earth and this other planet, which doesn't have a name other than the one the main character comes up with - Unnamed) are similar in many ways, even having evolved intelligent life forms which look like humans, although with a few differences. I suppose this is why I thought that maybe I could create names using real words because they were very similar to us.

    I think that I wanted to sort of go in the same direction as Shakespeare with my names. For example, in Romeo and Juliet his names had a direct reason for them, so Romeo means romantic and so on.
     

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