1. Sywo
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    Sywo Member

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    Worldbuilding - Naming..... Species?!?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Sywo, May 30, 2008.

    I'm currently building the world for my fantasy story and it was going fine until.....

    I had to name my main species of people. I've thrown some names about, but they don't really have the right ring to them. So my question to you is:
    How do you name things?

    Is there any particular reasoin why you name in such a way? Is it based on the language, culture or does it just sound cool. I'm trying to think of fantasy-ish sounding words that make the reader have a particular emotion or feeling. Infact I've woven it into my world as the method of naming places, but thats for another time.

    Thanks in advance;)
     
  2. TheFedoraPirate
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    TheFedoraPirate Contributing Member

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    I typically have a language that the people speak and if the word is their own word for themselves I usually name them something meaning "The People" which is a common meaning for what many of the people around the world call themselves (other options include naming themselves after an important ruler or a god).

    If it is the word that another group of people are calling an outside group I name them in their language something that reflects the two peoples relationship; "barbarians" or something similar if the relationship is bad and something more neutral "lives-in-woods", "island-dwellers" if it is good. Most people are arrogant and would never name another species/people anything overtly positive or that makes them sound more important than themselves no matter how good relations are (unless perhaps the species is recognized as divine).
     
  3. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    I usually plunder mythology and history for inspiration, it's a massive source of ideas. An example of that would be when I had to come up with a name for the sound detection system employed on underwater vessels in one of my stories. I used the name of the mythological character Persephone for two reasons, first, she was one of the queens of the underworld, which suited the idea of the thing I was naming, second, the name had the word 'phon' in it, which relates to sound.

    Al
     
  4. Sywo
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    Sywo Member

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    Thanks for the ideas people. I think I'll call my race Angai, which translates to almost angels, due to the belief that they become Angii, (Angels) when they die.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    That’s not a bad bit of derivative linguistics. I like that one word is a form of the other which reflects a change in state. This is a common grammatical form used in languages that have case structure.
     
  6. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    As Al said, mythology and folklore are great places to search for names.
    If the language spoken in your world is derived from Greek or Latin or something of the sort, look up the (ex) Latin meaning of 'people' or 'race' and tweak the word/s a little. If your language is completely of your own creation, just use the word they use for 'people' or 'race' or the like.
     
  7. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    P.S. You could also name the race after the (ex) Latin meaning of one of the most striking features/traits of the people within the race.
     
  8. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Use language translators and then, when you get a word use it as a base. Slightly change it until it rings good for you. This method always helps me :)
     
  9. edens garden
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    edens garden Senior Member

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    Native American names are usually pretty interesting too. Just looking at a list of county names could help too (i live in idaho so few are plain)
     
  10. BlueR
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    BlueR Member

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    I don't know, I look up the etymology of words and put them together...
     
  11. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    The main trick with names is to keep the world consistent. A world populated by the Devulin, the Samoi and the Arelan is consistent (three syllables, big easy vowels, short words). A world populated by the Devulin, the Spr'tziakal and the Badgers- where the differences between the races isn't obvious- will take much more work.

    In any case, the word should have three major properties- it must be Memorable (think Human or Dwarf), Speakable (no-one wants to stumble through Spr'tziakal every three lines; Elf, on the other hand, will never be mispronounced) and Real- a name that makes sense within your narrative. Elf and Orc, for example, are beautiful opposite names- Elf is simple, quick and easy, flowing from the tongue like a breath; Orc has a tough little bastard of a consonant at the end and requires you to bite down on the word to pronounce it. Tolkien is a great source for name references. Try for something with that level of simplicity and you'll be well on your way.
     
  12. WingedHermes
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    WingedHermes New Member

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    For species, I combine syllables together until I get something that sounds pronounceable. (Kind of like how if you don't speak japanese? The words sound like random syllables combined.) Or sometimes I just go ahead and name them after the region they live in. (Ashlanders, Highlanders, Plainsmen) When out of ideas, there are name generators, and of course, Latin! (or Greek. Depending on your preferences)
     
  13. asitaarka
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    asitaarka Member

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    What I do is go to baby name sites and do meaning search, I've found loads of names that fit my stories and what I need them for.
     
  14. BrinkofDawn
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    BrinkofDawn Contributing Member

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    Most of my inspiration comes from mythology. I think someone said that already but it really is a great source of inspiration. Yeah sure some mythological names are sometimes weird and rediculous but when you do enough research you'll find something you'll like and stick to.

    A good place to look for names of certain myths, gods, demons, or words in general is behindthename.com

    I found this place very helpful because it gives you definitions of certain names of male or female origin in anything. I hope that helps^^
     

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