1. Kohaneye
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    Kohaneye New Member

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    Requesting Assistance Naming a Race

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Kohaneye, Apr 20, 2016.

    Hello everyone,

    I have been writing a novel for quite sometime and every now and then this one problem keeps coming around and each time I keep shoving it under a rug. Essentially my dilemma is that I have a world with many races in it and all of the other races have names except this one race in particular. This race has been shifted to my back burner for many reasons but essentially I have not felt it was needed to name them quite yet but every now and then with the continued expansion of the story and the world I keep running into the same question, who is this race?

    In short I'm creating a fish folk race. Think humanoid in features which in some regard have fin features much like the Betta fish. I have ran across some various pieces of art that have given me some inspiration but I would be lying if I didn't state that my primary inspiration surrounded the Zora from out of the Zelda lore. Now I want very much to steer clear of any name that even resembles Zora or even begins with a Z.

    I did complete some research and found that many letters of the alphabet have already been used in naming fish folk but there were a few that stood out to me as possible starters. If the name we discover together could start with B, J, K, L, or N that would be neat but not required.

    Here is a link to snippet of the area where in my world these people will live:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/juasp6dc7ua0ozt/Shifting%20Sea.jpg?dl=0

    The idea I have for this region is that these folk control a powerful magical artifact which causes the coral within this region to constantly shift and destroy any who would attempt to sail through it. These folk are essentially guardians of the land mass to the left in the image. They maintain the balance of the seas in an effort to constantly repel invaders from the north or top of the image.

    Below are some images that I have used for inspiration as to how I imagine the fish folk will appear. As a mention please be aware that these are not my drawings. If I could draw this good I doubt I would be writing. :)

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/8002rt6ilcbqq4y/Fish%20Folk%20Insp%201.jpg?dl=0

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/z67mc5rs7fxwmik/Fish%20Folk%20Insp%203.jpg?dl=0

    If you need any additional information or have questions please let me know. I will try to peek back at this every day for a little while.

    Thank you everyone in advance for the help.

    Koh*
     
  2. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    Ask yourself this: What do these people call themselves?

    While we don't think about it (and nor should we what with the present lack of aliens) the only way that a race can get a name is because they tell us (or someone) what to call them. Today we call ourselves 'humans' but in a sci fi context an outsider race would be more likely to call us 'Earthlings' or something similar; the people off planet x. The way we got to 'human' is a story over a thousand years in the making, deriving out of latin and french. In essence we've called our species 'humans' because the Romans did so too and the word also included flattering connotations of being learned, kind and polite. In short, we like it as a word because it flatters us or at least it represents the best of us.

    How would some fish people talk about themselves? Well, in their history they were probably limited to one body of water as their home so 'The (fish) people of the blank sea' would be a natural fit which would contract down to '[sea name] + [noun]' and that likely sticks for the rest of time for them just as it has for us. I kinda like the idea that for them 'Betta' is their equivalent of 'Man'; as they grew up the only 'people' were 'betta people' so that seems to work too. If you live under water you won't name seas by the land around them; the land isn't even a place to a fish; so you'd name them based off the relevent bits of climate. So, a deep sea or warm sea or sea full of giant fucking sharks would work but you know their language better than me. That'll get you to a two word or two syllable form that you might consider as their version of 'human being' or 'human race'.
     
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  3. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    To build upon @LostThePlot 's work...

    Most groups on Earth call themselves "The people", and everybody else "The foreigners".

    If you translate Cymraeg and Saesneg in GoogleTranslate, it will tell you that these mean Welsh and English respectively; but it really means The People and The Foreigners respectively.

    It's only when you've travelled widely enough to realize that Saesnegs come in different varieties, and you need to distinguish between - e.g. the Saxons and the Normans - that you start categorizing. Also, following that thread, in times gone by you would have categorized peoples by their cultural history (the North Welsh fought on foot with spears, the South Welsh on foot with bows, the Saxons on foot with axes, the Normans on horse with swords).

    If you look at the term Eskimo, it comes from Montagnais 'ayas̆kimew' meaning "a person who laces a snowshoe", and is a name applied by an explorer who "discovered" them; it is now regarded by the people in question as offensive (as in, it was a term applied to them by a people who oppressed them) and prefer the term Inuit - which is their own name for themselves.

    So, are you going to call your fish people Eskimo, or Inuit?
     
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  4. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    That's a really good point too. As I understand it a lot of the remaining aboriginal cultures use exactly that model. Definitely there's a few native American tribes who's word for themselves is just 'The People' in their language. Apache is (as I recall) supposed to mean 'Enemy', something they were called by other people but was something taken up by them as a point of pride. In the world of an aboriginal person there is no such thing as a country with borders there's just land and it's only when you begin to encounter more developed nations that you even begin to need proper systematic labels. As a Welshman you suddenly need to know the difference between a Norman, a Saxon and a Viking because there are treaties and alliances involved. You use the words because you have to not because it's something you came up with (in my experience the Welsh give the choice would refer to all such non-Welsh people as 'bastards' and leave it at that) and that's something kinda different.
     
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  5. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Hopi means "people" and Navajo means "enemy." Chipiwa, Sioux, Comanche, Cheerokee, these are all various racial epithets in other languages.
     
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  6. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Are you writing this from their POV or some other race's? As others have mentioned, they may be referred to with another name by your POV characters while they themselves may have a different name that's derived from their own language. It could mean "the people" as others have suggested, or perhaps something like "of the sea" or "coral guardians" or some such. On the other hand, some people name origins may go so far back in time, the name can appear totally random, meaning, you can actually just throw together random syllables and voilà, unless you'll be discussing that proto-language in detail in your story...

    Their name can also be similar to a people (or race) living nearby. As an example, in my country, two groups of people share the same land called Suomi: the indigenous minority of Laplanders called the Sámi, and the Siberian people who migrated here called Suomalainen. However, these three words are related, and as far as I know, Sámi is used by the indigenous people as well. So if you've already come up with other race names, you could derive the name of the fish folk from them.
     
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  7. Mike Hill
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    Mike Hill Natural born citizen of republic of Finland.

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    Common misunderstanding. Some of those who are called Eskimo are Inuit but some of them are Yupik. Calling Yupik Inuit is like calling Polish Russian. Both are slavs. Both Inuit and Yupik are Eskimo. That's why it is very reasonable to call them Eskimo.
    You can call them aboriginal people of the antarctic or something like that but Eskimo is shorter.
     
  8. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why not call them Guardians or Seafolk, called *glub gargle* in their own language. Even if you're writing from the fish people's POV, unless your made up word for this race was just perfect, personally would not care if they were called something really simple.
     
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  9. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're going to be pedantic, I'd point out that there are no aboriginal people of the Antarctic, just penguins!
     
  10. Kohaneye
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    Kohaneye New Member

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    Hello everyone and thank you for all of the responses. After having read through each one I certainly had a lot to chew on. The theme I seemed to take away from everyone's responses had a lot to do with perspective and from which perspective will the story that unfolds be written. This was actually something I had not considered up until now and likely why I have struggled with naming them for the most part. To answer a few of the questions posed I guess I will start by addressing by whom our story will be perceived?


    The answer here in short will be by both the inhabitants as well as the foreigners. In this case I like the idea of having their name be something different depending on who is currently reviewing the fish folk. I will likely come up with a name they choose to call themselves as well as a name everyone else just uses when they speak about them. The personality that these folk will have at least as it stands now will be very reclusive and uncommon. To see one in person means you are likely somewhere you shouldn't be. Perhaps instead I will have various tribes of these folk who act differently depending on their geographical location and history within the region where they live. I'm still not entirely sure but what I am certain about is that the race in of itself desires more of my attention and just as much passion and input as I have given my protagonist race.


    LostThePlot mentioned a point I had considered but perhaps dismissed all too quickly as well. When you stated,
    It immediately drew me to think of the word "Wro" which I split from "Wroserah" in the name of the sea where these people will dwell. If I took the second part of the seas name "serah" and gave it some form of meaning or symbolism in the context of the story that could play nicely together and certainly warrant further attention.


    An additional mention was with regards to the sea's geography and its global location. I can say these fish folk will not be arctic dwelling fish or at least my initial intention was not to have their natural dwelling be that far to the north or south in the world. I would say that these waters border a tropical region and a temperate region if I have laid out my geology correctly which I really hopes that I have. Granted, the world itself may be fictional but I tried to keep my regions fairly similar to earth-like patterns. So these waters will likely be warmer than cold. This however does incline me to think about these people's resistance to the colder waters especially given how I imagine their fins and features to be.


    Thank you everyone for the help and please if you have additional thoughts based on my response I would be glad to read more. For the moment I believe I have some homework with working out the details surrounding how the world perceives these people versus how they perceive themselves. I will post more here when I have an update on what I have come up with for further review.


    Koh*
     

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