1. SoulGalaxyWolf

    SoulGalaxyWolf Active Member

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    Making up names

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by SoulGalaxyWolf, Jul 2, 2018.

    I always try to find names that were unique and uncommon. I kinda started to make my own names because I thought it would be fun, and it will be interesting to name some of my characters in a new way. Is there a better way of doing this to make it sound more natural?
    I remember looking up the "made-up" names that creators made-up. Here's a couple of examples and the link:
    17 Baby Names You Didn't Know Were Totally Made Up

    Wendy. Wendy looks like a nickname, and may have occasionally been used as one. But we know it today entirely via Peter Pan. Author J.M. Barrie named his Wendy after a childhood nickname "fwendy-wendy" ("friend").

    Cedric. Sir Walter Scott created this name in 1820 for the father of Ivanhoe. He was probably thinking of the actual Saxon name Cerdic. Close enough.

    Miranda. Shakespeare took his name-building seriously. The name of The Tempest's heroine tells you she's an object of admiration: Miranda is Latin for admirable, or "to be marvelled at."

    Vanessa. If you want an 18th-century Renesmee, here's the name for you. Jonathan Swift wrote the poem "Cadenus and Vanessa" for a woman named Esther Vanhomrigh, and constructed the heroine's name out of bits of Vanhomrigh's first and last.

    Coraline. Coraline is the title character of Neil Gaiman's creepy 2002 children's novel, which became a creepily beloved animated film. The name's origin was a simple mistake: Gaiman mistyped Caroline and like the result. Hundreds of girls now receive the name every year.

    Evangeline. The poem Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's greatest popular success. If the heroine's name sounds like a saintly French classic, tip your cap to Longfellow.

    Amanda. 17th-century writers took a page from Shakespeare's folios, building this name from the Latin for "lovable" on the model of the Bard's creation Miranda. Playwright Colley Cibber is usually given the credit.

    Some names I came up with:
    • Vonallira- hopeful dreamer
    Origin: Latin for hope: Votum
    Spanish for dreamer: Sonador
    Arabic for dreamer: Halim
    • Rettmon- Goofy world
    Origin: Latin for goofy: Retunsus
    French for world: Monde

    I sorta mixed up the different translations to come up with these names.
     
  2. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I often find myself in conflict when I'm writing something in English yet end up making up names that look like they've been borrowed from another language. At that point I tend to think the story's just written in English for our convenience, but in reality the character speak another language. :p

    I try to come up with names that reflect the naming conventions or grammar of the language the characters speak, but sometimes I just come up with something that sounds good, screw its supposed origins.

    The first name I ever came up with was Mírlin, which was inspired by the Irish word for marble, though I can't remember why. I just changed the accent mark so its pronunciation wouldn't sound too much like Merlin. I guess I could've also typed it Mïrlin, but honestly, I hadn't thought about the accent rules of the language she spoke... I think mash-up names are fine, but there are internal rules to real life languages that make certain spellings impossible in them. So for example the name "Rettmon" could be impossible in a language that doesn't accept three consonants in a row, while it'd be normal in a language that has no such rule.

    A real world example between Finnish and Estonia, very similar languages:

    Kalev = an Estonian name, acceptable because in Estonian it's ok to end a name in "V"
    Kalevi/Kaleva = a Finnish name, acceptable because in Finnish it's not acceptable to end a word in 'V'

    Kadri = an Estonian name, a derivative of Katherine. This is ok because 'D' is an acceptable letter in Estonian
    Katri = a Finnish name, a derivative of Katherine as well. The letter 'D' becomes unvoiced 'T' in Finnish.

    Not that you'd have to go that deep into linguistics, but it might be fun to consider.
     
  3. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Active Member

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    Now, I'm not saying you're wrong, because it's entirely possible that the Romans didn't name their girls Miranda and Amanda. BUT.
    FUN FACT TIME.

    Since we're being all technical, let's all take a look at Latin, because we're all smart enough here to understand what I'm about to say.
    Miranda is *technically* not Latin for 'to be marvelled at'--it's 'she must be admired'. The term is "gerundive of obligation"--it's a command.
    mirare = to admire
    You, and shakespeare, got that much right. But when you decline the verb to -anda, you end up with 'must be': 'she must be admired'.

    Similarly, Amanda is 'she must be loved'.

    Now, those words ('she must be loved', 'she must be admired') may not have existed as names in Roman times, leaving them to be 'invented' centuries later. And certainly, it's a fun fact, and one that I make use of in my own novel (where Latin is not a language that ever existed, but that's not the point.). But I just thought I'd enlighten you all.

    I never thought this fun fact would be relevant. Thanks, guys. I love this forum.

    Also, if anybody looks at this and thinks, "Hey, this chick is being kind of rude about this," I am very sorry I came across that way and it wasn't intentional, but I am not at all sure how to go about fixing that. I just have a bad feeling someone will take it that way :/ sorry in advance.
     
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  4. LastMindToSanity

    LastMindToSanity Senior Member

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    I have a character with a rather odd name. You see, she doesn't remember her original name, but she's in kind of a hopeless situation. In order to remind herself of her motto, she named herself after a rough Italian translation of it: Verso Cose Migliori. That roughly translates to "Towards better things." I know, it sounds kind of stupid, but maybe you could try having the character name themselves after something they find very important?

    Oh, and, Kitty? I think you're good, that didn't really sound rude.
     
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  5. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Active Member

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    Thanks, @LastMindToSanity
     
  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Contributor

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    I have character names so made up, they aren't even based on any known languages. :p
    Though I have a short with made up names by smashing two or more Latin words together,
    and that worked a treat. :)
     
  7. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @KaTrian - so how do Finns react to your surname, considering it definitely ends in a V? o_O

    As for myself, I have no rules - I pretty much just make it up, which as resulted in less consistent world-building and is probably a symptom to the extent to which I actually don't care to world-build much at all... I'm not sure what to do about that regarding my characters - it's too late now to change my MC Will to something more fantasy-sounding. But I intend to go back over my city names and try to unify it a little once the draft is done.

    Is it jarring to mix real world names with fantasy names if everyone's from the same fantasy world? I've always done this, but only now am I really thinking about it...
     
  8. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'm ambivalent about made up names. If you're in a futuristic or fantasy setting, then it's fine (or probably even necessary if you're dealing with alien or non-real species, in which case it would be weird for them to be called things like "Alan" and "Claire" ;)) But if it's current day, real-world setting, then made up names can be jarring, especially if they're really unusual.

    The other consideration when making up names or words, is that they should be phonotactically valid for the language in which you're writing. There's sometimes a temptation to make really weird names with lots of clusters of hard consonants and fricatives to give an unusual sounding name. The problem with this is that these names are really hard to read, and readers will be unsure how to pronounce them. This is really distracting and pulls the reader out of the story when they see the word.
     
  9. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Mckk My surname isn’t Finnish, so people don’t always know how to inflect it in a sentence.
    Eg. Is the correct ending -van or -vin if you want to inflect it to the genetive case (possessive)


    There are certain rules such as voiced consonants becoming unvoiced (not sure why Finnish evolved that way) and names/nouns often ending in a vowel because it makes inflection relatively easy and consistant, not only spelling but pronunciation wise too.

    Probably not something to consider in a novel written in English because names aren’t inflected. There can then be other reasons for certain spellings... or it can all be random, it’s the author’s choice.
     
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