1. Project-Exodus
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    Project-Exodus New Member

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    Sword Terminology in Fantasy

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Project-Exodus, Dec 28, 2009.

    Alright, my question to all you writers out there, is what exactly are the rules behind using sword names in fantasy? What I mean to say is, in my story, I'm having trouble with repetition, especially when referring to my character's armaments as great sword, short sword, great axe etc. The reason why I'm so broad about the names, is because, when I look at actual sword names, such as a Rapier, Claymore or Flamberge, the root of the name comes from known countries from our world...in fantasy, is it okay to list weapons as such? Because I know it would sound weird calling a sword a Katana in an alternate reality where Japanese people or the dialect doesn't exist.

    Please Help!
     
  2. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well if it helps in the Forgotten Realms series they use the actual weapons names. Like Drizzt's Scimitars. Then in the Inheritance Cycle, they also mention the weapons by names. I believe there is mention of a Flamberg. I am pretty sure there are better examples.

    For the most part if a weapon has such a name, then I would use it.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It really depends on your world but I understand the concern.

    Instead of saying a gladius, I refer to it as a broad-bladed short sword. Once the reader gets the idea, you can simply say 'short sword' or 'sword' for that character. I sort of stick to general terms for weapons, instead of regionally or historically specific ones, where possible.

    It might also depend on how you name other 'things' in your world such as clothing or even types of vessels.

    Good luck.

    Terry
     
  4. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    It’s is up to you. I’ve read good fantasy that uses Japanese medieval names for weapons and everything else. If you want the fantasy world to be completely separate from history, then use general descriptions -- if and when it matters:

    Example: Jay and Kay crossed swords. Kay’s sword was broad, nearly the length of a man, and kept Jay well out of striking distance.
     
  5. Project-Exodus
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    Project-Exodus New Member

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    Thanks for your responses!
     
  6. Destin
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    Destin Senior Member

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    A person could reinvent the wheel but why bother? If your readers know what a claymore and flamberge is, there doesn't seem to be a very good reason to rename them...

    Think about it, what kind of cynical reader is going to be like :

    "Psh, the flamberge was named after the 15th century french swordsman... this writer is lame, his world doesnt even have a france OR a 15th century."

    No need to cater to that kind of ridiculous behaviour. :)
     
  7. Cosmos
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    Cosmos Contributing Member

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    There's a certain suspension of disbelief in fantasy writing so that we can accept it as "real". In the case of naming items which originate from actual earth when it shouldn't (it's another planet for example) I generally go ahead since certain things are a given anyways. However I still tend to avoid going into too much detail about items (such as naming really obscure sword types) since most people generally don't know what it is and are better off with the short description that someone made a few posts up.
     
  8. taylor.kuykendall
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    taylor.kuykendall Member

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    It is fantasy...

    You writing in an Earth language, correct? I mean in your fantasy world, what would be the likelihood of a shirt being called a shirt? Or food as food? I think avoiding these terms would equally as ridiculous as avoiding specific terms for swords.

    In my opinion, your job as a writer is to describe a fantastical world to Earth-bound readers. Why not take full advantage of Earthly language?

    Some swords that are called katanas have never been in Japan... It's a style. It's like saying that you would have to come up for another name for "steak" because the meat cuts in your fantasy world would not resemble those we have on Earth.

    If you used an adjective such a "Japanese katana" that may be a problem. If you say a japanese-style katana, however, you are just explaining the sword in a way that the reader understands. Fortunately you can get away with leaving "japanese-style" off the term.
     
  9. Mr What
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    Mr What Member

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    I'm not really a fantasy reader so feel free to disregard, but why not just called a sword a sword and unless it's of marked significance, leave it at that?

    I don't really think hyper-technicalities interest many people...
     

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