1. Ale

    Ale Member

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    Struggling with coherent names

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Ale, May 31, 2017.

    So, I was wondering what you guys think is the best approach for names (and probably languages, which is the root of the problem...), for my particular setting.

    Basically, I have a huge made-up island (similar to New Zealand) in the Atlantic ocean. The closest neighbors would be the Iberian peninsula and British Isles. The time period is late Bronze Age ( around 900 BC).

    I'm really struggling with deciding names for characters given the setting. During this time period the nearest neighbors seemed to have Proto-Celtic cultures (correct me if I'm wrong on this though!). I thought of giving my island the same origins, but I'm having trouble looking for Proto-Celtic names.

    I also thought of just making up the bare bones of an invented language and thus making up the names, but I'm worried it might be overreaching. I have no clues how writers approach made-up names, actually.

    Any suggestions, tips etc ?
     
  2. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Well I have plenty of made up names in Sci-fi land.

    What you could do is lookup the names of the culture
    you are looking into and then put your own little spin
    on the ones you like.

    Language wise I haven't the foggiest idea.

    Good luck, and hope you find this helpful
    a smidgen or so, or you find the answers
    that you seek. :)
     
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  3. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    I wrote a period piece and the names were a struggle.
    If you used Celtic or Norman names you would probable be ok.
    I agree with Cave Troll that you should put your own spin on the name.
    https://www.behindthename.com/names/usage/ancient-celtic
     
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  4. PBrady

    PBrady Active Member

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    most names in most cultures and times reflect what people (or their parents) do, where they are from, or some attribute of that person - or an attribute their parents thought they should have.

    Leonardo Da Vinci was Leonardo from Vinci.
    Robertson - son of Robert.
    Erricson - see above.
    Smith - involved in smithing.
    Prudence, Constance - worthy attributes.
    In some African cultures there are names like Afua (Friday born), Dada (wavy hair), Kanye (freedom).

    Many Celtic and Norman names followed the same patterns.
    Airic - agreeable.
    Alan - handsome.
    Nareena - contented.

    While our culture dictates that you should stick with the name assigned to you, unless you go through a legal process to change it, in other times and places this can be more fluid with names changing as people develop.

    The tricky thing is that when a Celt said the word Alan the listener would hear him say handsome. Do you use Alan or handsome in your text?
     
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  5. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    @KhalieLa might be able to help with proto-Celtic names. She writes in that era and has done a lot of research
     
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  6. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    I also did a lot of naming in different cultures; Chinese I just picked modern Chinese names, so I didn't wind up with something made up that turned out to be "Fat Pig." I did make up two names "Si Huar" (Western Flower) and "Si Nuo" (Western Bull) and vetted them against Chinese speakers. For the Xiongnu, I modeled them on the very few Xiongnu names documented in Chinese sources or made them up: the actual language and common names are virtually unknown, and I only needed three. For Bactrian names I needed a lot as these were common people, or people working or leading a caravan, with whom my MCs/FMCs interacted a lot. The King's name was from historical records, but his wife, whose name is not known, I gave a common Greek woman's name (they also spoke Greek). I found an expert in the Bactrian language who gave me a long list of Bactrian names, and he named my Bactrian princess Ranissa. He also vetted that section for historical accuracy, and became a beta reader who gave me a great review.
     
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  7. KhalieLa

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

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    I guess it all depends on how accurate you want to be. . .

    During the time period you are working with the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula both would have been Bell Beaker Cultures. Migration out of the Urnfield Culture that dominated most of Europe at the time was only just beginning. (Urnfield Culture predates the Hallstatt Periods which is thought to be the origin of Cultic cultures.) The influence of Celtic Cultures only reaches portions of the Iberian Peninsula and a small part of the British Isles by 500 BCE. Also, the Iberian Peninsula is not likely to have been an area of Celtic-speakers, but the area now comprised of France would have been. But here's the kicker, only about 1% of the population knows that, so you can take artistic license. For more information see:

    Haywood, John. The Historical Atlas of the Celtic World. Thames & Hudson, Ltd., London. 2001.

    If you want Proto-Celtic names it's best to have a Proto-Celtic dictionary. I use one from the Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series.

    Matasovic, Ranko. Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic. Koninklijke Brill NV , Leiden, The Netherlands. 2009.

    The University of Wales has a more extensive word list, but they caution people not to use or cite it because the etymologies have not been verified. If you only want Celtic words go with the dictionary, if you simply want words that likely appeared in the lexicon of the time, ex. loan words and derivatives of loan words then the word lists by the University of Wales will work.

    As for naming, you can choose words like victory, honor, etc. You can also combine words like battle-honor, depending on what you want in the character, and you can add the prefix for white to just about anything, white-faith or white-noble. Tribal name were also common, Celticus, for example. If you want to go with actual, historically recorded names, read about the Roman conquest of Gaul. That will give you lots of names, but they will be Latinized. It's easy enough to un-Latinize them: a C can become either a K or a G; a V usually becomes a B. Vowels are floaters, use freely.

    Example
    Boudicca can be Boudikka or Boudigga.
    Cernunnos can be Kernunnos, but is more likely to be Karnunnos because Cernunnos is the horned god and karno' is the Proto-Celtic word for horn.

    The ancient Greeks recorded fewer names (see the writing of Herodotus), but they are older and closer to what would have appeared in Proto-Celtic. This is because the Greeks were fond of transliteration. A bunch of vases that until recently was thought to contain gibberish turned out to be transliterations of names of ancient Scythian warrioresses. So where the Romans said, "Celtae" the Greeks said, "Keltoi." The oi combination regularly appears in other Proto-Celtic words, thus is the more reliable translation. It also helps that the Greeks regularly hired Celtic mercenaries in addition to the trade they had along the Danube, so their relationships were not hostile ones, like the Celts had with the Romans.

    I hope this helps.
     
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  8. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Well done, KhalieLa! I knew you would be a formidable resource for this! I think the -rix ending, as in Vercingetorix, would be more properly -rikh? (king?) The Latin -ae and Greek -oi were actually closer in sound than they now pronounced. Latin -ae was classically pronounced -ai (English long I) which really is close in sound to -oi. You are a formidable expert in this subject!

    If you are not already a member, you might to join the Historical Writers of America and subscribe to the Historical Novel Society. HWA is having their annual meeting in Albuquerque, and I will be presenting a seminar (and pitching E&D) on Roman maritime trade in the Indian Ocean. And HNS is giving me my first official review of E&D.
     
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  9. KhalieLa

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

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    I will have to look into that group.

    In Proto-Celtic king is rig from PIE reg.
     
  10. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    They are two separate groups. HWA and HNS. HNS support indie publishers if you go that route, though I think you said you had gotten yourself on contract?
     

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