1. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Grammar The word I need doesn't exist . . . (or, at least I haven't found it yet!)

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by KhalieLa, Mar 11, 2016.

    I originally wrote what I thought would be high fantasy, but everyone who read it complained about the use of the word "dwarf," which has forced me to engage in a fair bit of find and replace. So, now I've got a Celtic fantasy on my hands.

    A group of people in my work who lived beyond the Elbe River are referred to throughout the book as, Elb/Elbs/Elben, for singular, plural, and collective nouns, respectively. I want to be consistent when renaming the dwarfs.

    In proto-Celtic, Kelto/Kelta are the singular nouns for each gender. (Not man/woman, that's wiro/bena; this is more like Englishman/Englishwoman.) The collective noun in proto-Celtic is Kenetlo. There is no plural noun, or if there is, I haven't found it yet. I was hoping to use Kelto/Kelta (singular), Keltoi (plural), and Kenetlo (collective). But, Keltoi is the Greek word for Celts, so is inconsistent with the Proto-Celtic.

    A. Do you think many people would recognize the linguistic inconsistency?

    I just got back a section where I inserted Kelto/Kenetlo where necessary and asked someone to read it over and see how it felt. She circled all the instances of Kelto and wanted to know what happened to the "n." But said she liked Kenetlo far better than dwarf.

    B. Do you think I should include a 1 page appendix or something in the back along the lines of "Who were the Kenelto," where I could state something like this:

    Kenetlo was the name Continental Celts use to describe themselves during the Iron Age. Celtic culture at that time centered around the area of Hallstatt, Austria. While the homelands of the Celts was the Swiss-Bavarian Basin the area of influence for Celtic culture covered much of continental Europe.

    In their own tongue, Kelto/Kelta were the male/female ethnic identifiers in much the same way as we would say Englishman/Englishwoman today. The Kenetlo did considerable trade with the Greeks who referred to this group of people as Keltoi, which serves as the plural noun in this novel, where as Kenetlo is the collective noun. It may help the reader to think in the following terms:


    Kenetlo = English
    Keltoi = Englishmen
    Kelto = Englishman


    The language of these people, as well as there culture, will be referred to as Keltic for the purposes of this book, knowing that is not a historically accurate representation of the word.

    Also--I've got a jarl from Gotland who I dearly love. He often makes Freyja references and I've got one that specifically mentions Brisingamen (which is why I was using dwarfs!) The passage reads something along the lines of:

    Fingering the bit of lace around her neck, on which Kharn's ring hung, the Jarl said, "I see you've even got your own Keltic necklace, though I expect the price you paid was far more dear."

    C. Do you think this will drive people crazy? Or will they completely miss the kenning, making it irrelevant?

    Thoughts?

    ETA: Keltic should be read as dwarfish in the above passage.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016
  2. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    A: If this ends up becoming a bestseller and more than 3 people ever mention it to you, I would be very surprised.

    B: I don't think there's any harm in it, though if you make sure the meaning of Kelto and Kenetlo is obvious in context the first couple of times you use them, I'd expect most people to work it out for themselves. Certainly if I saw the two terms in a published book, my first thought wouldn't be "she's spelled one of those wrong."

    C: I'm not totally sure what you're referring to even in that tiny passage, so my guess is most people won't notice whatever it is.
     
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  3. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    What's important to realise about this kind of specificity in books is that the number of people capable of spotting these things is miniscule, and these are people who are going to be well used to putting up with stuff that they know is flat out wrong in media.

    So, this is almost certainly going to wash over most of your readers without them thinking hard enough about it for any inconsistencies to stick out to them, and those that notice them are more than likely going to be happy to say "Yeah, fair enough"
     
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  4. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Thanks guys.
    I've just got the critique group from hell.

    I went from happy, "Hey, I'll write a fantasy; that sounds like to fun," to "I'm so tired of your worthless criticism that I'm going to make this novel so damn historically accurate that asinine comments like yours will stick out for pure shit that they are." Probably not the best place to be writing from, but if I hear one more comment about how my characters "aren't real cowboys so they wouldn't sleep outside," I think I will tear my hair out and run naked through the streets!
     
  5. Holden LaPadula
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    Holden LaPadula Member

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    I think that fantasy should be exactly what the name of the genre means; a visionary idea. In other words, whatever you want it to be.

    I'm not the biggest fan of the world of fantasy, but I do know that you create the rules as the author. If you want the dwarves to be called zucchinis, your reader will have to suck it up and accept it. :)
     
  6. PBNJDraftNumbA
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    PBNJDraftNumbA Member

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    Okay, so I like the thought put into it. When I read the original post, I was confused by how the Elb-type talk turned into a question of the K*****-type.
    This is not meant to diffuse the author's passion, but it is an honest take on my experience.
    I am not a fantasy reader, but I like etymology more than most people. I like the words used; I also agree that the reader will benefit from an inserted background on the terms, like in an appendix.
    Should this fantasy world grow, I imagine creating a glossary would be great for the future die-hard fans. It also helps newbies navigate.
     
  7. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    "The worst writing comes from fear."
    ~Stephen King
     
  8. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I can understand that. Fortunately, the book was complete, proofread, and edited before being sent to the critique group. The work I'm doing now is mostly "clean up."

    I've been studying Hallstatt period Celtic culture since 2008, so that's where the story was set in my mind. When I originally wrote I called Celtic tribes, dwarfs; Germanic tribes, Elbs; and the Scythians, men. simply to free me from having to be historically accurate all the bloody time! I'm just nit picking now, putting in the correct tribal name, Helvetii; eliminating references to things that didn't exist, like chimneys.
     
  9. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I was wanting to be consistent so, Elb/Elbs/Elben might lead to Kelt/Kelts/Kelten, but the Proto-Celtic language doesn't work that way, and I can't find a plural noun. Though, in my etymological dictionary there is a note that debate exist as to whether the collective is Kenetlo- or Kenetlon.

    The novel is complete and I'm including a map of Europe and calendar.

    One member routinely complains that they have no idea what time of year it is because I never use "real month names." Instead I say things like, "The nights of the hazel moon were just as hot and uncomfortable as the days. The revelers of Lughnasad had packed up and moved on, so at least the nights would be quiet again, but in the heat, sleep was still impossible."

    It sounds like summer to me, but I never said, "It's August," so the poor man assumed she was in danger of getting hypothermia sleeping outside in the cold in the middle of winter, besides, she's just a woman, and not even a real cowboy, so she wouldn't be sleeping outside anyway. And anyone who has ever slept out side anytime of the year knows you use more than just a blanket! Clearly, I'm a complete idiot for not giving her a sleeping bag and pillow.

    Of course this is the same man who accused me of copying Tolkien several months back. He still hasn't caught on that I bring a different chapter from the same book every time.
     
  10. PBNJDraftNumbA
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    PBNJDraftNumbA Member

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    Phonetics may help, too.
     
  11. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Khaliela, I would go with Keltoi as the plural, as there more people with a least a dab of Greek than Proto-Celtic and let those experts nit-pick you to death, if they like... I doubt even they would notice either.

    As to the time of year, I was able to use month names, because the Romans used the same ones as we do. But sparingly, maybe every couple of chapters to note the seasonal transitions, particularly. Like yours, my characters spent a lot of time camping in the rough, but often in the summer would use two-person tents for privacy, and the ten-person yurt in the winter for comfort. So what season it was important. In your case, let the weather do the talking for you. Also the religious events clustered around planting, harvesting, the equinoxes and solstices, and those can help place your reader in time without using a modern month name. Also spring, summer, fall and winter would be perfectly appropriate.

    I strongly recommend that you NOT include an appendix or a glossary, though you might set one up for yourself if necessary for consitency in spelling and meaning etc. The the various references you mention can be woven into the dialogue when they are talking about themselves.
     
  12. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Wouldn't it just be celtes?

    Proto-Celtic for druid is druwid and plural druwides as far as I could find...
     
  13. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    What you have looks like the Gaulish plural, druides. The plural of druwid would be something along the lines of druwidi, since plurals tend to include an I, ex. Boii, Helvetii, Nori, etc.

    Celtes as you have it, is pretty Latin. The Romans referred to them as Celtae, but the C does not exist in Proto-Celtic and neither does the ae combination. The combinations of oi and ai, do exist.

    The University of Wales has a fair bit of information online, but their work is not complete and they post a disclaimer that it should not be cited. It does work well in conjunction with the dictionary I told you about earlier, which is a good reference and can be cited. The down side is it's Proto-Celtic to English, so you need some idea of how to spell the word you are looking for first, which is where the work from Wales comes in; their spellings will get you close. There are a couple of other dictionaries out there, but at $200 - $300 each, they are an indulgence I have to save for! (I'm hoping to buy another one this summer!)
     
  14. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I wasn't planning on a glossary. The appendix I'm planning would be little more than the italicized information in the OP on the difference between Kenetlo/Keltoi/Kelto. And of course a map, for the curious. Though it would be pretty basic, showing location of tribal territories and trade routes. I thought of including the calendar simply because when I said "it's to hot to sleep," they still didn't realize it was summer. Even the chapter with the passage, "We are now enjoying the oak moon and midsummer always occurs during the oak moon. The sun still marches north, but it will turn soon," didn't clue them in on the fact that it was summer.

    I was thinking something simple, like this, but with Proto-Celtic for the tree names and corresponding months where the Ogam is or vice versa.
    [​IMG]
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Given how little regard you have for your crit group, does it make sense to be making changes to your book based on their opinions/lack of understanding?
     
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  16. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Minor correction on the navigation! The sun begins its northern march on December 21 and ends it on June 21 (approx.) In midsummer it is already heading south.
     
  17. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    That's what it says . . . The sun is STILL marching north, but will turn turn soon; as in it will turn at midsummer. The sentence preceding ask if they will stop for midsummer . . . midsummer still being in the future, hence the sun is still marching north, until midsummer, when it turns.

    So yeah . . . it looks like I need to use actual months.
     
  18. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    So June 21 is midsummer? That might be a cultural thing, like places that have midsummer festivals or something might think of June 21 as midsummer, but somewhere else we'd actually look at it as the middle of summer - like, late July?
     
  19. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    The Celts only had two seasons, summer and winter. The solstices are the midpoints between the equinoxes, thus midsummer and midwinter. The point between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox is marked by the festival of Lughnasad.

    The festivals look something like this (Below). Modern Pagans try to add festivals for the solstices and equinoxes, but historically, there weren't any festivals on quarter-days. The festivals on the quarter-days were more a Germanic tradition, Yule is specifically, Jule, which is clearly Germanic. Somewhere in England, after the fall of Rome, the two calendars got smashed together, producing what is thought of as the modern Celtic calendar, but in 600 BCE, it was a little different. The only four festivals there is evidence for from the Hallstatt and La Tene periods are the cross quarter days, which run closer to the 6th of their respective months, not the 1st. And of course all dates would vary based on placement of the sun, solstices and equinoxes do not always happen on the 21st.



    upload_2016-3-14_10-23-45.png
     
  20. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is simple geometry. On March 21 and September 2 equinoxes, the sun is directly over the equator, and for everywhere on the planet, no matter how far north or south, it rises due east at 090 deg and sets due west at 270, for exactly twelve hours of light and dark. For the northern hemisphere the winter solstice is around December 21. The sun is at 23.5S latitude (tropic of Capricorn), its most southerly declination, and rises in the southwest and sets in the southwest, the exact angle depending on how far north...the more north, the more southerly the heading and the shorter the day. At the summer solstice, the sun is at 23.5N latitude (tropic of Cancer), and rises in the northeast (yes!) and sets in the southwest, and the further north the more easterly/westerly, and hence the longer the day. I have never heard of the solstice being called midsummer as it defines the beginning of summer. Midsummer would be sometime around late July/early August. Days are getting shorter and the sun progressing south, through the entire summer.

    A friend of mine wanted to know the bearing to the sun for the orientation of the windows in the summer on a sun room, so I just recently calculated it for him... for MD it was 060/300 deg summer sunrise/sunset, and 120/240 deg for winter.
     
  21. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    So who's your intended audience? People who care about this stuff (and therefore probably already know the basics) or people who don't care about this stuff (and therefore probably don't want to learn a whole lot of it and will want just the minimum required to understand the story)?

    I'm definitely in the second camp. So if you're writing for an audience like me, you'd simplify. But if you're writing for the first audience, you can probably safely go into more detail without worrying about them not understanding.

    (I guess there may be a middle camp, people who are happy to learn anything and are interested in everything. But I honestly think that's a pretty small market).
     
  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this is where the cultural thing comes into it. You and I are thinking about it scientifically, but it seems like there's a cultural tradition of calling something Midsummer even though it doesn't match the scientific reality. See, for example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midsummer
     
  23. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    It's still accurate according to geometry. If you only have two seasons, summer and winter, and the calendar is divided in half at the equinoxes, then the midpoint of each season is the solstice. Hence midwinter and midsummer.

    I have no idea which group of people came up with the notion of spring and fall, but it's not the ones I'm working with.
     
  24. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    OK, but make clear the distinction, perhaps a celebration for the vernal equinox and the onset of summer. Then what you say will make sense, "midsummer" being the solstice (June 21) and the beginning of the sun's retreat south.
    And good catch there, Bayview!
     
  25. JLT
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    At the risk of repeating what others have said, I should point out that this sort of precision isn't going to be an issue for most readers. As long as you stick to a specific usage and it's clear from the context that you're doing it consistently, the readers will go along. But if you think that you're introducing an element of confusion, you might consider adding a short preface explaining why you were doing what you were doing, as others (Tolkien and Mark Twain come to mind) have done. In fact, the first message in this thread would serve well as such a preface.

    Twain's preface, in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," is so good that it bears quoting:
     
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