1. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    Naming Non-human Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Pink-Angel-1992, Oct 27, 2011.

    I don't know if anyone has asked this question or something similar, but I was researching into Elves, the different races, history and suff, when I came across this website; it stated:

    "Elves prefer names that flow off the tongue like wind through the trees. One of the most common problems GMs and players alike have when playing non-human characters is naming them. Most non-human characters can’t be named from a list of historic names, forcing DMs to make up totally new names."

    In a story that I'm slowly planning, I have this main character who's an Elf, currently with a Japanese name. I like the name I gave him, but this website got me wondering if it would be better to create a name for him. Currently I'm rather inclind to, because I'm creating my own world for the story and I don't know how many important non-characters there are going to be. I've I give this main non-human character a name I create then I would feel I had to for the rest of the non-human characters I have in the story, so I was wondering what others think to help me decided.
     
  2. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    I would say that depends on the current name of the character. Some Japanese words have a way of also sounding like they apply well to other languages (even if you disregard the loanwords). Frankly, a lot of us just make up names that sound good, without regard to linguistics. To get an elvish name to flow, use lots of vowels. start and end with a vowel, if you can.

    Another approach is to use an existing elvish language, and translate something meaningful into it -- Tolkien's Quenya and Sindarin are quite good for this (which one you use depends on the exact feel you want -- Quenya is more flowing, Sindarin still sounds elvish, but it a little rougher, and more down to earth).

    One final suggestion is to use names or words from real-world languages that emulate some of the characteristics of Elvish. While Japanese sometimes has the same sounds, something like Finnish is much closer. In fact, Tolkien's elvish languages are modeled after the general sound of Finnish -- he loved the way it flowed so much that he wanted to incorporate it into his world.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    That web site you are referencing is game-related (probably D&D or something similar). So those are the rules for elves in that game world. In your fictional world you can have elves with any sort of name you like. They can all be in Japanese, Arabic, or Swahili, if that's what you like.
     
  4. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    In my sci-fi/fantasy novel with Elf main characters, I made up names based on the language Mijhian I invented for the novel.



    Shima

    Alliuma

    Amiusha
     
  5. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    I figured that the website was game-related due to it mentioning GMs and players, however, something like that I thought could also apply to fictional stories too.

    In my ficitional World, there are several Kingdoms and each Kingdoms' culture and stuff are (at least at the moment) going to be based one or more real-world cultures. The Elf that I mentioned is currently named Mitsuko Hikari Fujarun. Fujarun I made up, but Mitsuko and Hikari are both Female Japanese names, according to the website I found them on. It's the meaning I was most interested in with this character. I'm thinking about having another Elf character from a different place and different culture, plus, the world will have other non-human characters in, like fairies, mermaids, Werewolves etc. So would the same or a similar things apply to them I wonder?

    At the moment I think I'll keep the character's name as it is till I have the World all planned out and stuff and see before I finalise his profile and any other non-human characters that maybe in the story.
     
  6. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Yes, they are both very common Japanese names, though Fujarun, while it could technically be a Japanese word, sounds decidedly un-Japanese, especially for a name (or, to be more accurate, sounds decidedly like made-up Japanese). Also, someone Japanese enough to have a Japanese first and last name would not have a middle name.

    If you're going to use names from a culture as different (in this sense) as Japan, I very strongly suggest you do some more research on the naming conventions. *Especially* if she ever interacts with family members, unless they are quite westernized (which would be a tough sell, given her name), what they actually call her might be something very different from what you, as a Western author, would naturally expect. How she signs her name, casually, or on official documents, might also be different.

    A safer approach might be to give her a traditional Japanese first name, and a Western middle and last name -- then you can get away with throwing in a Mitsuko or a Hikari without worrying much about the cultural implications of it. At this point, she could even have no idea how to write her name in Japanese, and I would find it believable.
     
  7. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    Thanks for the tip; I need to do some really research, but where the character is from may only be based on Japanese culture. Currently where he's from is going to be like a mixture of Japanese and Chinese. I'm going to use different cultures and stuff from the really world as a base for the Kingdom on my fictional planet. I'm going to make the cultures as different as I can, but I want some base just for help. In addition, I'll be developing different languages/alphabets so signitures would be different anyways. I'm still in the early stage of planning, so I have a lot to do!

    Fujarun I actually based of the surname of a character from an Anime I like, so I could try and make his full name 'match' if you like. I'll have to have a good think and do my reseach and change/alter the character's name for I finalise his profile!
     
  8. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Hmm... what do you mean "based on the surname"? It really does sound kind of made up to me, though I suppose it could be a more unusual-sounding, but perfectly real name.

    Wait... is this a male character?
    I'm the first to be all for taking a look outside of traditional gender roles, but at best, giving him a female Japanese name makes it look like a really bad research mistake on your part. In Western cultures, especially America, it's unusual, but not unheard of, a boy to have a traditionally female name, or a name that resembles one that's traditionally female. In Japan, naming is generally done much more strictly, and giving a male character a traditionally female name doesn't look like being unusual, it just looks like a mistake...
     
  9. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    The sounding is similar with the surname I made up and the surname in the Anime. The beginning maybe spelt the same too...

    Yes and no to the character being male... Confused?
    The character is going to appear feminine (and with a feminine fashion sense), which gets people calling the character female, but if they looked under the clothing they'd think he's male. Hikari doesn't care which people refer to him as the is fact he's going to be a Hermaphrodite, a fact which will be rarely known among others. I'm just refering to the character as male to make it easier for myself, so call him a she if you like! :D
     
  10. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I agree with all of this. Do what you want. It is your story.
     
  11. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    Thanksl I definatly will, because we are writing our stories for our selves first, right? At least that they way I see it and that the way I think it should be! I'm still in the middle of my planning, haven't done much yet, so the name I have for the character will be staying the same. The website, dispite being game-releated got me woundering if I shoul think about a different, non-existant name for non-human characters... Though I think the only one's I'd really do that with would be Elves, Fairies and Mermaids (of the top of my head). Werewolves and Vampires I wouldn't!
     
  12. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just wondered - How do they know what names elves prefer?

    It is your story. It is up to you to decide what your elves like or don't like. That is the way I see it.
     
  13. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    I asked myself that same question. I don't know, but maybe it has to do with mythology or something, like the names they were given. Just a thought.

    If your character takes a life of it's own, then it's not up to you, but up to them to tell you :D though I know what you mean. I'll definally give it some real thought and decided on my own, or let my character if he wants an imput into his name :D
     
  14. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    I asked myself that same question. I don't know, but maybe it has to do with mythology or something, like the names they were given. Just a thought.

    If your character takes a life of it's own, then it's not up to you, but up to them to tell you :D though I know what you mean. I'll definally give it some real thought and decided on my own, or let my character if he wants an imput into his name :D


    Edit: Don't know why this posted twice!
     
  15. MRice
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    MRice Member

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  16. TheWritingWriter
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    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

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    Agreed. Don't worry about another universe's rules. Make your own. This is your story. Embrace it and do whatever you want with it.
     
  17. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    I've got my character's name now - it's change since I asked my question - but thanks for the input. I'll have a look at those websites another time MRice when I come to another none-human character.
     

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