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

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    Would they even notice?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by KhalieLa, Mar 9, 2016.

    I've got a WIP set in 600 BCE and I'm being as true to names and places as possible, but have been banging my head against the wall lately. When I originally started working on the piece there was going to be discord between petty chieftains, likely of the same tribe. Since I planned on using the archaeological sites of Hallstatt and Durrnberg, the tribe would obviously be Nori, which works for a play on ash, with my petty chieftain being Dur for the play on oak.

    BUT . . .
    I realized that I would have a much more interesting story and more prominent Geo-political issues to work with if I spread them out and included other tribes. The Boii always cause trouble, so I included them, and added the Volkai as well. That meant I needed to move the oak tribe further out. I put them in the Abnoba Mountains in the Schwarz Wald.

    The problem . . . I want to keep the oak reference, but that area was occupied be the Helvetii at the time. And I don't even like the name. I do like Alemanni, which is a Celtic name, but refers to a Germanic tribe that moved into the area about 1000 years later. I like the feel of the phrase, "The line of Dur runs through the Alemanni" more than, "The line of Dur runs through the Helvetii."

    I tell myself, it's just fiction, but there is always someone out there who will catches those little oddities and bring them to the attention to everyone who will listen. The book is complete, so this is just a matter of find and replace. The question is, replace with what? Will anyone aside for me and a couple of other odd ducks notice or care?
     
  2. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    I looked those up, and it sounds like they were completely different civilizations with different languages and cultures. It would be a little jarring to accurately represent one culture while calling it by the name of another culture, like calling the Macedonians the Aztecs or something.

    (Then again, Disney's Mulan got away with consistently referring to the Xiongnu as the Huns . . .)
     
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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    My impression is that you've put a LOT of research and time into making sure your setting is historically accurate. It doesn't seem like a good idea to throw that all away just because you like a certain name.

    That said... I'm honestly not sure what you're getting at with all the oak and ash reference - I mean, I get that they're trees, but I don't understand the "play" you're referring to...

    So most readers aren't going to get your play on words. But they also aren't going to get upset about you moving a tribe somewhere.

    I think both of these points are only going to matter to a very small group of people - so the very people who are likely to appreciate your play on words are also the ones who are likely to be pissed off by your historical liberties.

    How are you going to feel about this? Will you be satisfied with your work if you make a compromise like this?
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think the question is really more of a reflexive one. Will it bother you to know that you have taken some license? I hazard that many, if not most, people would not know or be aware of the license you take. The names you already mention are unknown to me and I'm a pretty well educated fellah. :) And, yes, there is always going to be someone who notices, but do such people really make a crusade of things?

    Example: I'm just about done with Gemma File's utterly excellent Hexlsinger series. She's made extensive use of the mythology of the Maya, Mexica, Olmec, Tolmec and other cultures of Central and South America, but... for all the obvious research she put into her books she got some lousy advice/help as regards the odd bits of Spanish to be found therein. The translations were done by someone who clearly isn't a native speaker. And, come on... Spanish. Not exactly hard to find native speakers. We're a fecund people. :-D

    But... I let it slide because the books are just so awesome otherwise. And this is me, a professional interpreter of Spanish. A man who makes his living, literally, out of being pedantic in several languages. And still, I would not crusade. Why?



    ETA: @BayView beat me to the punch. :)

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

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    Yes - - it does bother me some. And I know Lawhead got dinged in the Fluent in Fantasy guide for the liberties he took in the last book of his Song of Albion series. I mean, who wants to garner snickers from the librarians for deviating from the form and including out of place elements?

    Tribes were generally named after founding members, thus the Alemanni would be founded by Aleman (or Alema if the founder was a woman.) The Helvetii would be founded by Helvet or Helve. And strange names seem to give readers difficulty, which is why I don't want to use Helvetii. The Alemanni existed, it's just that at the time they were hanging out on the Oder River, not in the Schwarz Wald. At 600 BCE, that predates the split between proto-Celtic and proto-Germanic, so they would all speak the same language, or at least similar dialects. The divergence in culture and burial practices between Celtic and Germanic tribes is still pretty subtle at this point.

    I originally hoped to avoid this by just saying "dwarfs and men" and letting it go high fantasy, which would allow me more creative license. But then everyone who read it had a problem with me calling some of the characters dwarfs, most of them accused me of copying Tolkien, and a good number insisted that dwarfs and (wo)men could not have sex. So I put in the actual tribal names and am heading toward Celtic fantasy now, which is basically what it is anyway.
     
  6. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, I think you will get a lot of readers who know that "Helvetii" is associated with the land and people of Switzerland--- nothing strange about it. The country's official name in Latin is "Confoederatio Helvetica." And a heck of a lot of us have heard of or even have used the typeface Helvetica Medium (which thanks to MicroBloat has largely been supplanted by Arial). (See here.) The Helvetians were a seminal people group, and your target audience may be just the category who'd be annoyed at their being pushed out of their historical position.
     
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  7. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes I agree with @Catrin Lewis. Helvetii means more to me than Alemanni.
    Swiss stamps say Helvetia on them.
    In Asterix in Switzerland - they're called Helvetians.
    Helvetii would give me no problems, and I'm not particularly a history buff.
     
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  8. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Thanks--This is why I'm on a European forum. I doubt many Americans would catch this. I will use Helvetii, your arguments make sense and it is the historically accurate group of people.
     
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