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Karro
08-07-2009, 03:20 PM
So... I've been thinking the past few days, since I posted the latest update to my "unnamed" project (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=2463), about how you name a world.

I've been trying to consider, as my touchstone, how we come up with names for our world, and what different people throughout history have called our planet.

Earth, for instance, is from germanic roots, meaning "dry ground" or "soil", and anciently seems to have been considered a synonym for middangeard (i.e. midgard) or "Middle Earth" or the "Middle World", which is what ancient norse people called our world. Here our world is named after what it's made of, or the part that we can live on, anyway. This has become the predominant name for our planet simply because English has become some predominant.

The word "World" is from other germanic roots, and means "Age of Man", and basically names our world after ourselves, since we consider ourselves the principal actors in it.

In ancient Greece, it was called Gaia, after the greek cthonic, primordial diety whose body forms our world. The Latin cognate was Terra Mater ("Mother Terra" or "Mother Earth"). In most latin countries, some variant of "terra" is still the name for our world.

And that's about the limits of my knowledge for the names of our world, but I know there must be other names for it out there.

Which made me wonder what people in my own world would call it, and why. I'd mulled over the name "Skein of the Seven", which refers to the world as the raw materials from which the primary pantheon worshipped in a certain part of the world weave the threads that become the lives of men. This name is culturally specifc and has an in-world meaning, but is pretty geographically narrow (most other cultures don't worship this same pantheon). So... should I consider multiple names, as filtered through multiple cultures.

It also got me thinking about the story of the name itself. I've given the above-name a story, and I think most names do have such stories behind them. And I think there's two sides to that story: there's the part that's the real true history of the name, and there's the part that's passed down through cultural exchanges as the "learned" history of the name. Sometimes those are the same, sometimes they're not, and sometimes the second one - the cultural story of the name - actually fails to get passed down at all.

So... with that opening salvo of my thoughts, what are your thoughts? How do you come up with the names for your worlds, nations, whatever? Why? Do those names mean anything to you, or to the people who populate your world? What does it mean, and why?

Gandwarf
08-07-2009, 03:41 PM
Well, the current world I am working on is covered in ice and snow. Only a very small part of it is inhabitable. The people there don't really see the big picture. Their world is just this valley they live in and it ends once the eternal snow plains start. I like to think people mostly use names that are practical or logical. So my world is simply called The Valley :)

Nations are non-existant, but there are city states in the valley. Most of my cities have practical names again. A city founded in a large forest: Greenwood.

I certainly believe names mean something to people. Why do we name stuff otherwise? Depending on the world you are creating names could be very practical (like mine), inspired by religion or maybe even a lost empire.

Coyotemax
08-07-2009, 04:05 PM
I'm impressed at how much thought you're putting into this. I myself tend to put a bit of thought into the names, but not as much as I might put into some other aspects. I go with the trends (more or less in order of frequency) of most places being named after a local geographic feature, many are named after people, some are named after industry, a few are named after royalty, etc.

And different regions could get different language/dialects to add more flavour, of course.
Prairie View (town on a hill near a large plain)
Crystal Falls (village near a waterfall)
Redriver (city along a river gorge cutting through an iron deposit making the water go reddish)
Johan's Gap (town in a mountain pass)
Port Edward (seaport)
Prince George (some random town somewhere)
Sawyerville (town in the woods with a dependance on logging)

Etc.

Then for fun, run the names in one of your regions through an online translator to give a local feel:

Opinião da pradaria
Quedas de cristal
Rio vermelho
Johan's passa
Edward portuário
Príncipe George
Cidade da serração

It's actually kind of fun once you get going ;)

NeonKnight
08-07-2009, 04:48 PM
Well, my previous world was named Auren, with the main campaign area being the continent of Euros. As to what it meant....at this point in time nothing. I could make something up with Auren being the root of an Orlien word for Land/Earth (Orliens being the primary human racial group.).

But if you want to know how I go about naming places themselves, see this thread here:

http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=5959

Steel General
08-07-2009, 05:06 PM
My homebrew world has changed name's several times in it existence, I finally settled on a name, "Ghoraja Juun", mostly because it sounded pretty cool and I felt it had a nice fantasy 'flavor'.

Karro
08-07-2009, 05:43 PM
Well, my previous world was named Auren, with the main campaign area being the continent of Euros. As to what it meant....at this point in time nothing. I could make something up with Auren being the root of an Orlien word for Land/Earth (Orliens being the primary human racial group.).

But if you want to know how I go about naming places themselves, see this thread here:

http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=5959

Well, I'm mostly interested in large-scale naming, like worlds, continents, and nations. I've read the various other threads here, and there's a lot of good stuff there, but I'm not at that level as yet. Besides which, there wasn't really an existing thread, yet, on this topic, and since I was thinking about it, I thought I'd post one.

Coyotemax
08-07-2009, 06:15 PM
Erm yeah, looks like i misinterpreted/missed the actual point of the thread. Sorry, my bad :)

We are a hedge, nothing to see here, move along...

NeonKnight
08-07-2009, 07:58 PM
No Prob.....Hmmmm....Nations, how did I name them.

Well, for my Clindenese peoples I first took what they were to mimic in the real world. Having them based off of the Orient in Our world, I had no interest in recreating China nor Japan (both being done a lot in my opinion), but instead basing it off something that truly had my attention, Korea. My Wife being Korean meant I obviously spent a lot of time visiting Korea and learning some of it culture. I noticed that almost every single place name in Korea is a two syllable word.

Seoul - So-Ul
Pusan - Pu-San
Chegu - Che-Gu

Now, I know Korea is actually 3 Syllable Kor-E-A, but that is a bit of a misnomer from the Arabic trader who first encounter one of the old 3-Kingdoms that made up the Korean Peninsula, Of which Goguryeo, was later shortened to Goryeo The G being a hard-G almost K sound), so was anglised to Korea. Modern Koreans do not call their country Korea, but instead it is called Han-guk in the South (South Korean) and Choson in the North. Sadly, this is where we get the derogatory slang term for Koreans as Gooks.

So, that history aside, I set about naming the cities, towns, countries of the Clindense areas with two-syllable names on the island of Kosqra: Chin-Hyea, Kae-Din, Orgon, Tan-na, and Shin-Po. While some of the cities still have their old (old meaning when I first creating the area in my Teens, like Dange St Mansini, it would likely have been changed if I continued with my old world.

Now, goig back to my other article (the one moreso with place names), it applied ont he whole to Nations in part. I often took normal names, and changed them slightly to make the new national names.

Bacose - Because
Brighton - Started as simply Bright Empire, but as I got older, felt kinda wrong
Island Kingdom - Islanith

Other than that, the world for me is older than most of my gaming friends :O and as a result, I have a hard time remeber how I cam about naming some of the areas.

altasilvapuer
08-07-2009, 08:36 PM
For me, when I named Geidor and other similar ones which I haven't yet mapped, I was in the middle of creating backstory-esque details about a sci-fi universe, and kept trying to keep successive names somewhat consistent with existing names in the same language/culture/etc. The first couple were pretty much thrown on by feel, and I've mostly let the 'rules' (term used lightly here) create themselves, and just tried to pick up on and follow them as I made them.

I've never done much in-depth study of linguistics, though, so the 'rules' usually tend to create themselves, rather than being guided. I'm still indecisive as to whether that's more productive or destructive, though, heh. At the moment, I'm more or less 50/50.

-asp

Karro
08-07-2009, 10:42 PM
Erm yeah, looks like i misinterpreted/missed the actual point of the thread. Sorry, my bad :)

We are a hedge, nothing to see here, move along...

No worries! Your thoughts are still valid and useful, just under a slightly different context.

Ascension
08-07-2009, 11:47 PM
I don't put a lot of thought into naming things, mainly because I'm not making my own personal world or anything like that. It's not personal. I do, however, put a lot of ear into names...they have to sound right. If I say it out loud and it sounds dumb then I change a letter here n there and see what it sounds like. I like my random places to have a musical flow to them. When I'm in a creative mood I try to evoke the other senses and when I'm feeling whimsical I like to tickle a rib. So I guess that you could say I like for things to sounds right and I rely on my current emotional state to evoke the names. The metanames (countries, continents, worlds) just pop into my head after I have done all of the other naming...that way it sort of grows or evolves and feels more natural. Oftentimes I'll say to myself that I want this place to sound Russian or Persian or whatever so I make up stuff that sounds that way.

When I do plan things out down to the tiniest detail I know exactly what the people dress like and think like, what they manufacture, what they import/export, what their religion is like, etc. so this makes things easier. For me, when I get stuck or feel non-creative then I'll hit a generator but I never take a word straight from the generator because of the above criteria. Gleitneklsd might come out of a generator but I play with it until I get something like Gleiten or Glettenskold, or if they be hobbits then it's something like Gibbenbotty, orcs would be Nightskull, English would be Glencurry. For me, it's all in the sound.

zenram
08-08-2009, 12:04 AM
Well in my case i name the places of my world "Divero" mostly straight forward, there is a continent with the shape of a dragon so it is called Nogardrios wich is something like "Im a Dragon" in spanish and spelled backwards. There is a continent which has the shape of a dagger and is called Agad, again dagger in spanish and spelled backwards. XD

When the names dont like me i just add some "t", "r"; "th", so they sound a little more mysterious.

For natural features, towns and the like i just take the logical approach, if its in a pine forest its called evergreen and the like.

Of course, many cultures have their own languages so the places still have names like that but in their native language, or with the names of their heroes or gods.

Steel General
08-08-2009, 08:44 AM
I also do a lot of alternate spellings, letter substitution, and reversing the spelling of various words.

shifty-eyed
08-08-2009, 07:02 PM
Our home-brew world doesn't have a name (if it does, its called Alder because my co-creator had the idea of setting it on an Alder-disk). But we did have the idea that there would be at least four continents with the campaign taking place in the central continent.

Because we wanted an Arabic flavor to the world, I ended up calling it ana-Toht which I found in an Egyptian Phrase book and means "I'm lost." It seemed appropriate.

As I progress with adding names, I usually keep tons of bookmarks and reference materials related to the languages that I'm interested in using (in this case, Arabic, Persian, and various Berber languages) and I pick phrases that seem appropriate. From time to time, I'll add puns (Wadi al-Baghendi refers to LOTR; al-Waïz-izi, a ruin which is not "always easy" to get through). And, after reading too much and having my eyelids glaze over, I'll also start making stuff up that roughly fits in with what I'm doing.
:|>:)

Karro
08-10-2009, 01:17 PM
Interesting set of perspectives.

I'm thinking now, there's a corallary question: "does it matter what you call your world".

I know Tolkien called his world "Arda" or "Middle-earth". C.S. Lewis called his Narnia (but that is more correctly a nation name, not a world name). A few others have such names. But I'm thinking of some contemporary fantasy novels... where the world is essentially nameless. Robert Jordan's world is called "Randland" because the fans had nothing else to call it, and Jordan gives the world no name. I recently read the first Song of Fire & Ice book, and AFAIK, while the continent the story takes place on is called "Westeros", the world itself has no name.

That being said, we fantasy mappers like to name things.

So... here were the competing names for my own world: previously I called it "Aterra"... which is just latin "Terra" with an "a" thrown on the front to make it "not latin". More recently I've been calling it "The Skein", a short form of "The Skein of the Seven" which, as I mention above, is a culturally-specific name for the world, but it reflects the culture in which the story I'm... ahem... "writing"... is initially set.

Ascension
08-10-2009, 05:16 PM
I like weird naming as long as it is reinforced often enough so that I don't forget it :) The Skein seems fine to me and immediately sets a mood for the culture.

Karro
08-11-2009, 09:25 AM
I like weird naming as long as it is reinforced often enough so that I don't forget it :) The Skein seems fine to me and immediately sets a mood for the culture.

That's a comforting sentiment. Thanks.

Gamerprinter
08-11-2009, 12:48 PM
While sometimes I really think about a name. My current Japanese setting is actually Japanese a word that describes the setting: Kaidan = Ghost Story.

Often short stories or poetry written long ago by me, pops up in memory and the place names I invented them seem appropriate to a world I map now.

Darkovia, was one of those names, which is my vampire town in the CWBP, as well as the nearby khanate capital of Calishem. That name is a derivative of Kalim Shan which I always thought sounded Chinese, and I gave it a more arabic sound with Calishem.

Another fictional place name from the past, that I may reuse some day is the Duchy of Dernallion, a rather French-English sound to it.

I try to fit the name with the history and the language, but often just pops into my head - so I can't completely describe the methodology of my naming conventions, but that's some clues.

GP

Highlieche
08-14-2009, 06:03 AM
Most of my naming conventions are simple. I take the focus of the map/TL/fantasy and find what i think sounds cool to name it as. :P

jaspertjie
01-22-2010, 02:53 AM
I sometimes use words that actually mean anything, like Dostre'dex. Dostre means 'Vessel' and 'dex' means city. Reminder: 'dex' is only thrown at the end of a placename if the city is conquered, not when founded by Maraxxians. If that is the case, then you leave the 'dex' away, or delete the apostrophe before 'dex'.

Vorhees
01-23-2010, 09:39 AM
For my Fantasy world i Keep the World Name Short as Possible , the Kingdom's and And Cities i give a name That Captures the feel i am trying to get , So for instance i have a Region Called Spargos , It has a Greek Feel and is Inhabited by Minotaurs and Humans, i also have a Region Called Jarlgarr that has a Nordic Feel. When i am doing my future World i Usually name things after current or historical places or Events as in New Scotland, Camelot and Fort Apache.

When doing a lot of places i find that this site http://donjon.bin.sh/name/ helps alot

This one can come in handy at times. http://www.seventhsanctum.com/

Rythal
01-24-2010, 09:10 PM
I've spent far to much time randomly pressing generate Sci-fi map on donjon by now, so be careful you dont waste the entire evenin

Ryan K
01-25-2010, 12:14 AM
I tend to recycle names I liked but didn't use in older aborted stories I have written in the past, usually with a slight change to keep it fresh.

The main city in my story, Demazon, is modified from another city I had called Del Mason, and a smaller but as important placename is Port Thafirton, which is a leftover from an RPG I used to play (which came from frequent discussions about what to call that first town, before we abrdiged it to Thafirton).

With naming conventions, and usually for the more important places, I take into account the possible history of the place, who originally founded it, what language they spoke might have sounded like, all that sort of stuff. Nothing specific, unless specifics are strictly required for the sake of the story, but enough so that the place name might tell a little part of it's own story in itself.

For unimportant, uninteresting or anywhere else, I usually just look in a phone-directory and bastardise the names that seem in keeping with the region at hand.

Meridok
02-13-2010, 02:57 PM
Hmmm... I could probably write a novel or two on my naming habits, really. But I`ll try and keep it short!

When I first name a place, be it for a story or a map (one usually follows the other!), I tend to just create something that has some kind of theme to it or definite meaning or a certain sound. `Certain sound` is the least common, I think, at least lately, for generating place names - people names are a different matter. But here are a couple examples of my naming habits:

`City of Blades`: a rather straightfoward name, no? It was a city that spawned a world, as it were, because I created this rather psychedelic, assassin-ridden (yay! tropes!) city that sort of needed a world. The name of the island it is on (and the name of the people who inhabit island & city) came later, and was `Naxis`and `Naxians`. Normally, especially for cities, I would translate the name into the local language or what-have-you, but the City of Blades of literally called that, in its language and by outsiders (with good reason, too).

Thir, Arcuu, Guil, Nuk, Agnu, Lung, Itimus (or Ytimus, or Itymus), Lindorm (Lyndorm), Phoen (or Fen), Wyvern (or Wivern): If you think some of those names sound like types of dragons, you`re right. They are all names of kingdoms (well, they aren`t all actual technical kingdoms, but be that as it may) for a world that I created because I wanted dragons. So, since I couldn`t come up with a naming scheme world-wide, I flipped through a dragon book and took names of types of dragons. That was over a year ago, and the names have morphed since then. Thir (which should technically have a double-dot on the i) was originally Theer, which came from `there` at the end of Amphithere. Arcuu comes from Arsupia which came from Marsupial. Guil (again, should have a double dot) was originally Gouille from Gargouille. Nuk was Nuck from Knucker. Lung hasn`t changed at all. Lindorm comes from Lindworm. Phoen comes from Phoenix. Wyvern hasn`t really changed either. But Agnu and Itimus... I`ll be damned if I can remember what they originally were! Something draconic, anyhow. (One thing should be noted about these names - these are all the `Thirianized`versions, because that is the culture I am writing or viewing the story or world from).

Anyway, wherever I get inspiration, I always edit and modify for regional and world names, and play around with spelling and pronunciation and take language into consideration once the original names are settled.

But sometimes my names are just laziness. Here are the cities&towns of Thir: Riverport, Port, Northtown, Crossings, The Royal City...
Crossings is the only one that has really changed - it was originally The Crossings or The Three Crossings, because it lies at... a crossroads. Yeah. xD

Cèsar de Quart
02-20-2010, 10:15 AM
I name my fantasy world just "World" in different languages. As I'm not a philologist or linguist, I just use existing languages in the Middle Ages to represent translations of the actual languages they use.

So my world is "The World", which is logic and you'll find it in every existing culture. The "World", "Large World" or "Wide World".

About nations and cities, I make ethimologies. For example:

The town of Caracador is in an Occitan-speaking region, but the first inhabitants of the area were Celts, forefathers of the Welshmen. So the town was originally called "Stone cut", in middle Welsh being the root for "stone", careg, and for "to cut", which is dor, because it was the first town built on stone in the area. When the Cautans, Romanesque-speakers, conquered the area, they named it Caracador (Carecadorum in Latin), adapting the phonetics. Nevertheless, the Welshmen who live in the north still call the town Careggtor.

The same with another example: the "Clear Town", which in Cataresque (Occitan) is Ameloder, but in Audrian (Welsh) is Amlymadref.

Etc.

I did this with most of my towns. I don't like making up names which mean nothing just because they're fancy.

***

For in case someone is interested, here's a brief scheme of how toponimy evolves usually:

1) the name means something in the tongue of their first inhabitants/builders, and this something evolves as the inhabitants language changes.
2) Conquerors or new settlers arrive. They name the place with a phoneic adaptation of the original name (Lugdunon in Gaulish -> Lugdunum in Latin, today's Lyon in French) or with a new name (Legio Gemina for today's León, in Spain; Caesarea Augusta for today's Saragossa)
3) New conquerors may adapt the city name to their language phonetics (Iznik, Turkish for the Greek form Nikaia; Estives, Catalan for Greek Thebai) or adapt the meaning of the city to their own language because there's some word with similar phonetics but no meaning relation. Example: Brugge in Flandres was called Brujas (which means "witches") during Spanish occupation (and still today is called that way in Spanish). Legio in northern Hispania derivated his original meaning "Legion" to Spanish "Lion". And now, the coat of arms of the city is a purple lion on silver field.
4) Foreing peoples can name existing places whatever they like (exonyms). Miklagard was the Scandinavian name for Constantinople, today's Istanbul, for a long time. It meant "Great City". Istanbul iself is the Turkish deformation of Greek "Eis tin Polis", meaning "to the City". Constantinople was The City (the biggest city in Europe during most of the Middle Ages). Wales is the Germanic way to say "the Others", because in Welsh it's Cymru. This "walhla-" Germanic root is usual, even for non-Germanic countries. Wallachia would be an exonym meaning also "the others". You'll find it in Wales, Cornwall (the -wall part), Wallonia, Włochy (Polish for Italy), the Gauls (the Romans got the name from a German tribe) even in the word "walnut" (literally Foreigh Nut).

I hope it helps someone with interest in constructing a senseful ethimology for his fantasies.

Take care!

VincentAlliath
02-20-2010, 03:11 PM
I have no idea WHERE most of my odd names come from for these maps and lands that I've done. I did a map of a valley called "Lake Ononir". Ononir was the last name of my current character in Oblivion. God knows where I came up with it, though. Lately, I've taken to using words that will give it a feel. My major map I recently completed was called Revile (and the lands in it were the Isle of Rhoss (corruption of Ross), Isle of Breach, Cartham (the only fantasy-esque name), Ransolme (corruption of Ransom/-Holme), Ravine, and Reproach. In this setting, it's slightly different to everything else because none of these lands know of the other's existence.

My largest map to date, that I've near completed (and just uploaded here) is called Desolate. Where Revile was a floating continent in an atmosphere, Desolate is a planet that is covered in ocean, but for this one continent and the mass of isles surrounding it.

jaspertjie
02-21-2010, 08:27 AM
If it sounds Maraxxian Enough for me it will do. XD

LonewandererD
02-23-2010, 09:03 AM
I know I'm jumping in late but my world has many different names, a different name for each different race/culture/country so I try to come with a name that just feels appropiate or true to the flavour of that group. For the most part I don't have a name for the whole world as a lot of the races/etc don't seem to think of a world beyond their own. For example the Dal People are isolated from the rest of the world, unable to expand they have no word for world as their world as they know it isn't all that big, so they would just use the word Aia which means earth. My world does have a true name, Drigau, which was past down to the Elder Races from their gods. A friend and I came up with this name, we were somewhat slack with its creation and decided just to take the first 3 letters of each of our surnames and make a word out of it; so Dri (from Driver, me) and Gau (from Gaunt, my friend) came together to make Drigau.

-D-

jwbjerk
05-11-2010, 10:28 PM
My current WIP is a sci-fi planet. It is inhabited by some humans, but humans are by no means the dominant species. There are several other sapient species, several who have languages humans can't begin to pronounce, and some whose languages aren't even based on sound. So i'm going with transliteration whenever possible. Names like "Tha'*p~*p'iikz#llrn" while they look exotic IMHO get old pretty fast.

The planet is generally referred to as "this orb". The phrase is similar to the english use of "the world", except since all the sapient inhabitants are from elsewhere, they know that it is not the world, it's this world, the one they happen to be on. An "orb" is simply a round thing, but sounds better than transliterating it as "this round thing."

Provisionally i've named the continents with the phonetic alphabet from west to east: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, etc. Though i probably won't keep those names, but give places geographic or historical names. I like making up cool sounding names too, but i'm not interested in making up several alien languages many of which don't use our phonemes.

njordys
01-06-2011, 05:55 PM
I am lucky enough to be Norwegian, so I can just steal the name from local areas and it will still sound Tolkienish. :p

There are a lot of different sources I can draw inspiration from, but there is fine line to balance between boring and outlandish. If I take a name from a local area or a Germanic language, I usually try to spiff it up a little, like rearrange the spelling and such to see if I can make something interesting out of it. If I on the other hand take a name from a distant culture, like Native American or Chinese, then I try to tone it down, westernize it so to say, in order to make it sound more like something in line with my own established view of fantasy names.
But it is all very subjective, what I find boring or weird might be brilliant for other's.

When I made the world of Thule (http://fc01.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2011/003/1/2/ice_world___thule_by_njordys-d360jjl.jpg), I took the name from the distant frozen land of the north described by Pytheas in around 250 BC (i can't recall correctly the year). The islands of Vega are named from the Norwegian island of Vega. The -thuk names are inspired from the extinct Native American tribe of Beothuk, previously found on Newfoundland and believed to have been in contact with Norse explorers.

Korrigan
03-01-2011, 10:38 AM
I try to find names that sound "natural". I try to avoid mixing things like "K", "Kh", Gh" with vowels to sound exotic. I usually just find it lame...

Last time I had to develop different races and cultures, I try to find a real-world language that would fit for each one. Then I made up names mixing different words in those languages. For example, I chose welsh for the elves, icelandic for the dwarves, britton for one of the human kingdoms,... In this kingdom, the capital was made of white marble, so I wanted to name it "the white city", which is said "ker gwenn" in britton. So I simply named the city Kergwenn. Easier is better.

The other advantage of this method is that I can provide my players with lists of real-world names in those languages, which links them to the cultures they'll play in.

NeonKnight
03-01-2011, 04:15 PM
Yep, very similar to what I did for the races in my old campaign world.

Some fun reading for those who wish:


Aster
Little exists of the Asterian culture. With the end of the Simulacrum Wars, and the defeat of the Que’Aslan Empire, the majority of the Asterian people were subjugated into the Arelene Empire. This is not to say that all Asterian people are extinct or absolved into other cultures. The Kingdom of Ishten still survives, and until recently, the nations of Elder and Exter held out (though the former has been absorbed into the Theocracy of Kaeln, the latter in Haxton).
The Asterian people are fair skinned, some almost albino. The hair color ranges from blonde, or platinum blonde to a light brown, and is always straight. Eye color is predominantly blue, with green or violet sometimes occurring.
Under the Asterian culture, land could be owned by any who could afford it, though this meant that often the lower class was indebted to the upper class. In cases where one cannot afford to own land, they are able to rent if from one who could afford to own it. The greater the land holding, the more rich and influential the owner.
Asterians also do not have a true class structure as other cultures, but rather follow a Caste system. When a child is born, the event is always attended by a member of the seer's guild. The seers would then perform a mystic ceremony, and determine the child's caste in life: warrior, religious, merchant, worker, or seer caste, are example castes, though there are certainly others. Often the child's caste will be the same as that of the father, but sometimes their caste will be that of the mother or different from both parents. Once a child's caste has been determined, it is difficult for it to be altered as the child's entire life is lived towards that goal. As the child grows, they are attended by others to prepare him for that life, and at around 10 years of age, they leave home and enter into an apprenticeship with their Caste.
A further addition to the Caste system of Asterian culture is the concept of equality between males and females. In Asterian society a female can hold a position of authority and/or power just as easily as any male. This equality is unique amongst all the human cultures. In this system, it is accepted without an argument or even a second thought when a female holds a position of power and authority over males as being normal, and is never second guessed.
Asterians have a common name given to the at birth, as well as a family name they are born into. Furthermore, they are also known by their Caste, so while Tlana was born into the Jardna family, she is also a member of the Seer Caste. Her full formal name than is 'Tlana Jardna of the Seers'.
Asterian names are often harsh, and guttural sounding, and difficult for non-Asterians to pronounce.

Typical male names are: Ahexotl, Atlan-Tonnan, Cacama, Chantico, Citlali, Copil, Ecatzin, Eyahue, Huetzin, Huicton, Mamexi, Matlal, Maxtla, Mextli, Mutex, Nopaltzin, Olintecke, Ometeotl, Opochtzin, Oquitzin, Pimotl, Pizotzin, Pochotl, Quilaztli, Tayauh, Tecocol, Tenoch, Tizoc, Tlacotzin, Tlaloque, Tlotzin, Xipe-Topec, Yaotl, Zolin, Zolton

Typical female names are: Atototl, Centehua, Centeotl, Citlali, Ixchell, Malinal, Nimilitzli, Papantzin, Tayanna, Teicuh, Tepin, Tlaco, Toci

Clinden
Owing to their isolated origins, the Clindenese people have a tendency to be quite xenophobic. Distrustful of others, they prefer to live their lives amongst their own kind. The Clindenese are only found in the Nations of Agon, Naxtil, and the five kingdoms of Kosqra.
They have golden-hued skin tones, with eye color always being brown. Hair is blue-black to dark brown. They also prefer plain clothes, only wearing brightly colored costumes on special days, and for festivals.
In Clindenese cultures, the ruler of the country (a hereditary title) always owns land. Use of land can be granted to another, but not the ownership. When use of land is granted, an oath of fealty is sworn with both parties offering services to each other in exchange for the granted land's use. Typically, this means the lord offers to protect the vassal in exchange for goods (often food or production), and services (both military and actual work). A person who has been granted use of land can and often does offer a portion of that land in turn to another, but ultimately all land is held by the ruler.
Amongst the Clindenese, men have more rights than women, and women are prohibited from owning land or property. A women who comes to own land or property (through the death of a husband usually), may hold it until a male heir becomes of age, a female heir has been married, or she herself remarries. If she unable to do any of these things, the Lord whom fealty was given too may either grant the land to surviving male relative, take the land back, or least likely, grant the land to someone new, thus making the woman a vassal to the new owner.
In addition to the prohibition on owning property, women in Clindenese culture are often discriminated from taking on any role other than a domestic role. This is not to say that one will not find female business owners, workers, or adventurers, but rather that they are the exception to the rule.
Of all the human cultures, the Clindenese have perhaps the easiest naming practice. The family name is the most important, and comes first. This name is also comprised of a single syllable. The personal name is always two syllables, and is usually written hyphenated.

Typical family names: Bae, Chin, Chol, In, Joo, Ku, Lee, Soo, Sun, Won

Typical male names: An-Kor, Byung-Chul, Byung-Joon, Chae-P'il, Chang-Sun, Ching-Ying, Chon-Sik, Chul-Soo, Dae-Hee, Eui-Tae, Gi-Su, Ha-Neul, Heung-Soo, Hye-Jin, Il-Sung, Jae-Hwa, Ji-Wook, Joon-Hee, Joon-Ho, Joon-Seo, Joon-Sup, Joong-Kyung, Joong-Yang, Ju-Hyeon, Ju-Kan, Ki-Chul, Ki-Whan, Kwang-Su, Min-Soo, Po-Sun, Seong-Tae, Sun-Sin, Sung-Hee, Yee-Tai, Young-Jae

Typical female names: Ae-Sook, Aei-Young, Chae-Ok, Choon-Yei, Eun-Bi, Heui-Jeong, Jae-Min, Jee-Ae, Kong-Jee, Me-Jin, Nu-Ri, Ok-Hee, Soo-Kyung, Soo-Min, Yang-Gae, Yeon, You-hee, Yun-Ah, Zung-Bok


Nexton
Developing their kingdoms out of the tribal clan holdings of the past, the Nextonish people have spread little from the lands they held in the past. A dark people, both in physical appearance and manners, the Nexton people have suffered few crushing defeats in battle and only one nation has been conquered or subjugated, the nation Lastandor (now modern Naxmor). They are a hardy, and robust people, surviving in some of the most intolerable areas of Auren, including the sweltering jungles of Bromon and Telorani.
The Nextons have a bronze colored complexion, ranging from a lighter, copper shade to a very dark, almost deep brown. Hair color is brown, brown-black, or black, is almost always wavy or curly. The eye color is dark brown, brown or amber, in declining order of occurrence. The people of Telorani, Bromon, Naxmor and Noroda are all examples of Nexton people.
Strong clannish ties to the lands they have held, and clan loyalties and hatreds stretching back hundreds of years typify Nexton culture. Land holding in Nexton culture is on a clan basis, with the clan leader an elected person. This position is a life term, and ends only with their death, at which time a new clan leader is elected. The clan leader can assign land use, rule over his clansmen in regards to political marriages, disputes, trade rights and whether to war or not.
The Nexton people hold their clan in the highest regard, above even that of their country. There is nothing one would not do for their clan. Due to high importance that the clan holds in Nexton society, most major mercantile houses, military units, even communities are built around a singular clan or alliance between two or three clans. Any clan rivalries that exist by one clan to another will extend into this arena as well, with merchants refusing to trade, units refusing to work together, or even outsiders expelled from communities. This can be quite dangerous for non-Nextonish people who form an alliance with the wrong clan.
Women in Nextonish society hold a strange position. While they are seldom afforded the rights and privileges of men, property is inherited along maternal lines as opposed to along paternal lines. This includes family names, and hereditary titles. Even with this cultural power, women are seldom permitted to enter into military services, travel, or take on any careers that may take them outside of the house, or clan lands, though it does occasionally happen. When it does happen, the woman in question, is often a 4th or lesser daughter, standing to inherit little property, titles, or even be in a position of desirability for marriage.
Nextons have a common name, which they use in daily life, but they also have a surname which is their clan name for members outside their clan, or their profession of place of residence for people within their clan.
Common clan names are: Afteni, Decoadian, Nemlos, Ramse

Typical male names are: Abazu, Abiade, Adusa, Apara, Boseda, Chima, Chuka, Cis, Danjuma, Dumeto, Ebere, Ebuka, Foluke, Gorom, Ikedi, Jeneta, Namdi, Obaseki, Okorie, Onuora, Onwuka, Opita, Orji, Rumun, Sopulu, Taiwo, Tolani, Udoka, Wafor, Wole, Worie, Yobachi, Zina

Typical female names are: Abebi, Adaku, Alaba, Ama, Ashabi, Boseda, Chidi, Dosumu, Ebere, Ejii, Eluma, Folami, Gozie, Ime, Ina, Isoke, Kemy, Mukoso, Noni, Okwii, Onyi, Ozo, Rolake, Sokari, Tachiko, Tarana, Tobenna, Uru, Wonu, Zikora


Orlien
The first to form permanent communities, and abandon their hunter/gatherer ways, the Orlien people have always been regarded as fast learners, and a people quickly able to take advantage of a given situation. They excel at almost any task given and their almost total occupation of Euros attest to their ability to overcome hardship.
The Orlien race has skin tones ranging from light, fair tones to tan and even olive. Hair color ranges the gamut from light, almost white through brown and black, with brown and reddish brown being the most common. Likewise, eye color is highly variable, with brown and gray/blue most common. The people of Arelene, Shimark, Brighton, and the entire eastern portion of the continent of Euros on the east side of the Tilnos, save Rostia are considered pure Orlien.
Orliens culture is typified by a system where the lord owns all lands in a general area, renting out parcels of this land to servants and vassals alike to use. Unlike the feudal system employed by the Clindenese, the lord does not own the vassals that work the land, nor does he guarantee protection for them in return for services rendered to him. The lord can and sometimes do sell or grant lands to loyal subjects, often as a reward for a great service rendered, or from lands captured from a rival. Under this system, a commoner of means can hope and aspire to eventually own his own land, though it's more rare than common.
Of all the human cultures, women (and men) have the most freedoms in the Orlien culture. Anyone of means, regardless of sex, if they are possessing of the means may take on any career of their choosing, though, men do find their options more open to them, and possessing of the least amount of discrimination.
Naming practices for Orliens usually entails the person possessing a common name that he is called since birth, but except for the nobility and upper-class, the middle and lower-classes often do not have a surname or family name. Should one need to differentiate from one Allain who is a butcher and another Allain who is the son of the local sheriff, Georg, the first would be called Allain the Butcher, while the second is called Allain, Son of Georg. Further, if either Allain were to travel to another town, they would then be known as Allain of Datrid (if Datrid were where they hailed from). This naming practice may seem odd, but because most Orlien of low birth seldom travel far from the place of their birth, a common name is all they would need in their home town.
Orliens who own land (whether they always have or have been granted it), receive a surname that is a hereditary name either associated with the land (in the case of a barony, dukedom, or county), or one that may be based on some factor for which they are best known for. This could easily explain the sheer number of Trollkillers, Blueshields and other minor lords in border land holdings. As an alternative they may choose to either have one bestowed upon them by the kingdom's ruler or create one themselves. Some nations follow old Orlien laws that dictates only a landowner may have a surname. Well known Orlien surnames are: Alaf, Cronnor, Marduc, Sumner, Tyson, and Zublon.

cypruss11
03-24-2011, 09:47 PM
I don't like to worry about names.

I have a rather simple way of naming places
I close my eyes and the first thing that pops in my head, possibly the second, is the name of that place.

My latest world Queinthas is still just a sketch on some paper so i don't need to worry about names much
(Not that most of my maps have ever gotten further than a sketch)

Tyo Solo
05-27-2011, 06:53 PM
I've kind of copped out on this. I figured there are pleny of good languages and place names in the world, and I agree that the names of places should have meaning.

I order to make my places/languages meaningful and consistetnt, I've created a cipher that will transform any input language into my world languages. I use English as my "common tongue" because it's my first language, but for place names and incantations, the cipher comes in handy.

For example:

In english, Germany is Germany, but in German, its Deutschland.

My cipher would therefor output:

Valnery (Translation from English)
Daogsĵherd (Translation from German)

Therefor to outsiders, the country would be the former (with the etymology remaining intact, albeit with an alternative alphabet), and the latter to those who speak it's language.

There are a couple of extra rules in there to replace common doubles with alternative letters, i.e. "Balloon" would become "Pehir".

I think the important things are consistency and meaning, and this is the way I have got round them.

Cheers

Tyo Solo

Conaruba
07-26-2011, 09:37 PM
I usually try to familiarize my self with the linguistic feeling i'm going for.

Say I am creating an elven forrest, I would want to have something very flowy with a lot of vowels and not too many hard consonants. Once i have a pretty good idea of what the name to sound like I would just start randomly saying things that sounds Elvish. Sometimes this takes a really long time to get something that fits just right but if the name is a really important element of your project to you than the meditation on a good name will, I think, pay off.

Conaruba
07-26-2011, 09:45 PM
You probably also would want to think about how your name looks. I experiment with a lot of different spellings from different languages.

Just one example I came up with off the top of my head:
English: Ahye Yoada
German: Aje Joada

Same sound, Different spelling

Meridok
07-28-2011, 09:33 AM
Tyo Solo - That's a neat way of using a cipher! I've only used a cipher once in world-building myself, but it was fun to take the results and mess around with it some to create names/word/place-names and so on.

aratherstressedgamemaster
08-10-2011, 03:50 AM
In terms of coming up with names quickly, something I often find myself doing as a gamemaster as well as in fantasy/sci-fi cartography, I find simply reading foreign languages that I do not know aloud helps me get into a mode for slinging out names. If I want a Hungarian feel, I'll read a half a book in Hungarian, since I don't know any Hungarian, my mind tends to lock in on the sounds and string them together. What comes out on the other end has the feel of the original language but is absolute gibberish.

NCA777
10-27-2011, 02:31 AM
For my storyworld, which I'm still trying to figure out a good name for ironically enough, each culture/country is more or less based vaguely off of the a subgroup of folklegends. I tend to base the names and words in general off of what would be a feasible linguistic progression if contact were made between the different languages of the folklegends, or general bastardizations of prevelant parts of the folklegends. (Yesh, I'm a MAJOR linguistics nerd... ConLangs and all) For example the continent where the majority of my stories are set at the moment, the Maelyarian, is based off of mostly Celto-Franco-Ibero legends and so most of the real names for those countries are based off of those languages... Although does anyone else use placemark names if they can't think of one that's completely right at a time? IE inserting a completely obvious stock fantasy-name until you can come up with one that fits better?

Lukc
10-27-2011, 02:59 AM
With my gaming group we tend to use silly names, make them up as we go along, and yes - we do use "placemark" names. Such as the necromancer's tower, which was referred to simply as "the tower" and "the necromancer's tower" and a bit later as "my tower" by the necromancer PC ... this actually replicates the way we use names in the real-world. Referring to the nearby big city as "the City", the big river becomes "the river" and so on.

Yorick Sofer
02-24-2012, 03:00 PM
I actually have this same problem.
Trying to think of why your name would be called that.
I'll see some maps with very strange names. Names that look like people names.
Names come difficult to me, and naming the entire world is the hardest one.
There being so many gods on some hands, it would be difficult to have one all encompassing god to name the world after.

Sular
02-25-2012, 02:32 AM
I've taken to the habit of "translating" many names out of whatever fictional language would make sense in the world and rendering it in English or in some borrowed word. So, rather than write out the invented word saiphele (which would be essentially meaningless to real people)and place it on one of my maps, I render that as "the Golden Bazaar" and use that instead as that is a fairly close rendering of that word. That said, I do prefer to leave proper names more or less alone to give things a bit of flavor. In that case I often work out a brief sketch of a sound system of the language or languages of the people and places I am mapping and run with that. This is why my city map I am working on has a number of things named after 'saints' with unreasonably cumbersome names like Teuthezol.

miinstrel
03-05-2012, 01:11 PM
I tend to use anagrams of whatever is around me at the time. Often i'll look at the books on my shelves for interesting combinations of letters and then rearrange them until they fit the feel for whatever region I'm working on. Whatever I'm currently obsessed with will be alluded to frequently if you can get inside my mind.

My current world is called Illistera which comes from the word "Yliaster." This is a term for the primeval substance that begot all other substances and was coined by a 16th century alchemist named Paracelsus. Yliaster was also known as the Prima Materia (prime material), so i thought it fit nicely with D&D. I was really into Full Metal Alchemist when I came up with this.

The continent the campaign focuses on is Sorradar. There is a heavy dragon influence in my game, so i went online and stumbled across a draconic translator. I think the continent looks like a fetal dragon, so I started plugging words in like child, baby, youth, dragon, etc. According to the translator, Suorra Darastrix means "dragon child." Names are frequently changed and simplified over time, so in the 4000 years it's been inhabited, this changed to Sorradar.

I'm glad i'm not the only one that thinks about these things :)

Alex
03-05-2012, 09:01 PM
I use my conlangs to name my worlds, or cities or places. Sometimes though, I'll just randomly create words on my notepad or while I'm out and then when I get back home, I get on my PC and start creating a conlang for that one word I made up, or the list of words if that's the case.

Its very fun, and makes my worlds feel a little more alive. xD

Black Lemon
03-13-2012, 11:24 AM
The fantasy world I'm working on has no name yet, but when I do name it, it will probably be something along the lines of 'earth'; just something pertaining to the very fundaments of nature on which human and humanlike cultures depend. Then I might translate this into the different tongues of the world.

The nations, however, have names. Weird names just enter my head, and if I like the sound of them, I use them for whatever region they suit. A few of the languages in my world are under development and they are never based solely on one real world language, so pretty much everything sounds pretty 'foreign' and yet, at times, familiar (since I don't really try to invent new phonemes, haha). At any rate, most of these names popped up before any of the languages had been defined at all, so I retroactively give them meaning, using the names to 'activate' the vocabularies.
Also, the larger or more important a region is, the more likely is it that I will try sticking to names that are easy to remember and to pronounce, while truly complex names still are viable for less 'central' locations.

Apart from that, I'm highly 'simulationist' in that I really don't care whether English speakers or (as in the case with most of my friends) Swedish speakers find the names challenging.
To illustrate my perspective: I have a hard time pronouncing (or merely grasping the fundamental ortography of) for example Romanian, even though it is an Indo-European language with a lot in common with, for example, Italian, French and Latin (all of which are languages we come across frequently for a number of reasons). On a completely different level we have the vast majority of languages that aren't even remotely related to English or Swedish.
Thus, I believe that in a 'realistic' fantasy world it is nigh inconceivable that all of the place names would be easy to grasp for the average person. :)
Personally, I feel that for example Al-Qahirah is much preferrable to Cairo (one and the same). I have names like this in my world (not Arabic, but distinctly non-European). The Q represents a phoneme in its own right and to replace this with something more 'Germanic-friendly' makes zero sense in a fantasy world, I think.

I didn't mean for this devolve into a linguistic discussion but there you have the basis of my perspective.
If I want a name to convey a 'cold' feel, I don't have to look to ancient Norse or Greenlandic, because the very sounds of a name (that I can make up instead of assembling from real world names) can convey it. If, on the other hand, I specifically wanted to convey an unmistakably ancient Norse feel, well... I wouldn't. ;)

MTGEmperor
03-13-2012, 09:19 PM
I do think that naming is part of the appeal when making maps or writing books. After all, some of the names I create are either based off words I hear in my head or based off of known locations in fantasy fiction.

In one of my biggest story projects, I had to name the world I was making Midgard, primarily it is the most prominent world name in history.
When it came to towns and regions, it wasn't as hard. One method is the most common I have seen in this forum; using real locations and reworking them. However, one method I use more prominently is that I try to base my regions off of known words in the language I am fluent in; English.

On the other hand, one word I am having a hard time on how I created; Taerak. A village that lies at the base of the Sapphire Mount and contains one of the world's Marids (something based on Arabic word of genie).

Scipio
03-14-2012, 10:34 PM
As much easier (or maybe not) as it might be, I find that I just cannot allow myself to choose a random series of letters that sound nice as a name for a location. I guess I just have this insurmountable instinct that such names are meaningless; at best one can design a language around existing names to give them meaning after using such an arbitrary approach. While I have taken a linguistics course or two, I don't feel that I have the know how (and likely as much the inspiration) to create my own language from scratch, so I guess I tend to use culturally or geographically relevant names. This may not be a good thing however, as it means I end up borrowing a bunch of (albeit lesser-known) region/settlement names from Earth history/latin phrases (ex. Lusitania, Solis Orientalis), and for examples of the latter, Bogwatch, Glenwood, Montfort, the like... though all of those of course would only appear in a distinctly medieval European setting. I don't know... I guess in all honesty despite my self-satisfaction in having a "meaningful" name, I still end up with something generic-sounding for that. There's definitely a balance to be struck; with random letter combinations you run the risk of "Yeah, let's go to 'fantasy name that I predictably cannot pronounce'", whereas with a more pragmatic approach you may end up a bit too mundane. Of course, with regard to this trade-off, a lot has to do with the character of your world- historical or high fantasy?

Heinrich Zweihänder
04-14-2012, 04:45 PM
I name my fantasy world just "World" in different languages. As I'm not a philologist or linguist, I just use existing languages in the Middle Ages to represent translations of the actual languages they use.


this actually replicates the way we use names in the real-world. Referring to the nearby big city as "the City", the big river becomes "the river" and so on.

You're definitively right guys. I believe Earth, Terra, ... are lately names from Galileo's times when people realized "earth" or "the world" was actually a planet like any other and they decided to name that planet somehow. In Japanese it is even more clear this is a late concept: they call it 地球, which means "earth ball".

I believe in ancient times "the world" was named "the world". Why would someone needs to find another name ? There's only one world in the mind of people then. It's obvious which one it is.

Similarly, "the moon" refers to earth's moon. "Satellite" came also later, when people observed satellites and realized the moon was a satellite like the other.

Zirojtan
12-23-2013, 06:14 PM
The fantasy world I'm working on has no name yet, but when I do name it, it will probably be something along the lines of 'earth'; just something pertaining to the very fundaments of nature on which human and humanlike cultures depend. Then I might translate this into the different tongues of the world.

The nations, however, have names. Weird names just enter my head, and if I like the sound of them, I use them for whatever region they suit. A few of the languages in my world are under development and they are never based solely on one real world language, so pretty much everything sounds pretty 'foreign' and yet, at times, familiar (since I don't really try to invent new phonemes, haha). At any rate, most of these names popped up before any of the languages had been defined at all, so I retroactively give them meaning, using the names to 'activate' the vocabularies.
Also, the larger or more important a region is, the more likely is it that I will try sticking to names that are easy to remember and to pronounce, while truly complex names still are viable for less 'central' locations.

Apart from that, I'm highly 'simulationist' in that I really don't care whether English speakers or (as in the case with most of my friends) Swedish speakers find the names challenging.
To illustrate my perspective: I have a hard time pronouncing (or merely grasping the fundamental ortography of) for example Romanian, even though it is an Indo-European language with a lot in common with, for example, Italian, French and Latin (all of which are languages we come across frequently for a number of reasons). On a completely different level we have the vast majority of languages that aren't even remotely related to English or Swedish.
Thus, I believe that in a 'realistic' fantasy world it is nigh inconceivable that all of the place names would be easy to grasp for the average person.
Personally, I feel that for example Al-Qahirah is much preferrable to Cairo (one and the same). I have names like this in my world (not Arabic, but distinctly non-European). The Q represents a phoneme in its own right and to replace this with something more 'Germanic-friendly' makes zero sense in a fantasy world, I think.

I didn't mean for this devolve into a linguistic discussion but there you have the basis of my perspective.
If I want a name to convey a 'cold' feel, I don't have to look to ancient Norse or Greenlandic, because the very sounds of a name (that I can make up instead of assembling from real world names) can convey it. If, on the other hand, I specifically wanted to convey an unmistakably ancient Norse feel, well... I wouldn't.


I am in complete agreement with this post.


My fantasy book series involves someone from Earth traveling to the world of Eurydice, and so I have gone to great lengths to describe the biology, the anthropology, and the philology of the world.


For obvious reasons, it would definitely be a little difficult for the protagonist if nobody spoke English, and there would be an entire first part of the book that would be spent in confusion trying to learn the local language where he's at. I mean, it's possible to learn a language through immersion this way, it's how I learned Scottish Gaelic, but it's difficult and time consuming and it would take away from the story. For this reason, I have come up with an elaborate justification as to why English is spoken at all on Eurydice, even if it is done so in a different form (no Latin words or morphemes).


The languages in the world sometimes descend from languages spoken on Earth (as my protagonist certainly isn't the only person to have traveled to Eurydice), such as the Parnaslo languages and the Polavian languages (descended from Proto-Dravidian and Pre-Proto-Celtic, respectively), but by and large are not affiliated with languages from Earth, and are not going to be easy to pronounce for my readers or for the characters. For example Ha'axli'misiniuxn (pronounced: χəʔaɬɪʔmɪsɪɲʊχn) was the first Prassian dictator to have his entire country bought out from under him by Klaliś Tolororþin (pronounced: klɑlɪʃ tɔlɔɾɔɾθɪn) during the Prassian Unification.


Obviously these names, especially the first one, aren't going to be all that easy for readers to pronounce, and neither will the names of important characters in the first book, like Karáxos (karáɕɔs), Ackpräd (ʌ́tɕkpʰɾæd), Óroxek (ɔ́rɔɕɛkʰ), Xexyre (ɕɪɕýre), and Cyris (tɕýɾɪs). But that's just the natrue of the beast, in my opinion. In order to make my world as believable as possible, especially in the context of someone from Earth visiting it, I think it's the best way.


Now, how I come by these names is actually really random. In the past few days since I joined this forum, I've found one of the fantasy name generators to be particularly useful, and actually three out of the five aforementioned character names in the first book come from it. In the past though, I've done a lot of things. Sometimes I'll go to Mark Rosenfelder's Metaverse and look at random numbers from different languages and compound different parts of them or change the vowels/consonants up a bit or even use them backwards. One name for my book series at least was made in this way - Irunjik, who is the Turanese conqueror of what used to be Greater Parnasla (a historical figure in the books). I want to say that it's based off of a number in a South American language? I'm not really sure. Multiple names for characters that will appear later in my alternate history timeline 'The Fox and the Ptarmigan' were made this way as well, such as the royal title 'Haroapo', which will be used in the Patpatarangi Empire on the Pacific Coast of North America, and Patpatarangi names like Namwan, Nenjepar, Morambo, Drijare, and Upoirarai.


Sometimes I also use compounded, chopped, and/or metathesized phrases from languages that I speak. The placename Ś’oqlarínathś (ʃʔɔqɬəɾí:nəθʃ) is actually from the Scottish Gaelic phrase "seolta ri sionnach" which means "sly as a fox". The name Óroxek, who is the grandfather of my protagonist's love interest interest in the first book actually gets his name from the Spanish word 'tesoro' spelled backwards. It was originally Óroxet (the /x/ corresponding to the fricative sound in the Drucpel language), but I only recently changed the /t/ to a /k/ when speaking the language to myself on the toilet when I decided that final /t/'s become /k/'s in Central Drucpel dialects because I liked the sound better. That came from the name of the gas station. Then of course the art of rsesu (pronounced: ʂɛ́su: ), or traditional Prassian tattooing, comes from "users" spelled backwards with the /s/ and the /r/ reversed according to Prassian spelling of the retroflex fricative. I got it off a sign somewhere.


The name of the region of Pras comes from Prussia, and the city of Zraice (dzɾɔɪtʃ), in the region of Polavia in the Province of Lesser Svipur comes from the Thracian word Zrayka. I'm not quite sure where Svipur came from, but Polavia is based off of Colovia, as these books were originally being written for the Elder Scrolls series until somebody beat me to writing a book for them... now it's my own thing.


I'm kind of all over the place with my naming, as you can see, but it's gotten me pretty far in the process. I say don't be picky about where you draw your inspiration. It could be from a street sign, an instructional sign, something you misheard, baby talk, etc. Just let it come to you.

Jalyha
01-10-2014, 01:59 AM
Hi everyone :)

This one topic I should be fairly good at.

How I name my worlds... well, I usually don't. Not at first. If you think about it, all the words for "Earth", in almost every language, mean "dirt" or "men" or .... something along those lines. No one gets creative with naming until there's *something else to name*.

OUR world is "dirt", but other worlds are GODS. Mercury, Mars, Saturn...

We got a tiny bit more creative with those.

There's a little more variety with Nation names, since we discovered other peoples before other planets. And the smallest things have the greatest variety in naming.

What most people don't consider is that no one person names everything in a world. (Or the world itself). Naming things is easier once you know *who* is really naming it. Is it a group of settlers in an unclaimed territory? They will probably name their new home after someone famous, or themselves, or the landscape. So you get names like "Golden Valley" or "Oakdale" (In their own language, of course). Is it a conquering army? They'll name the place after themselves, or their ruler, or their home. "New Amsterdam".

Usually, though, in young worlds/societies, places don't have names at all. The farmers call the nearest village "the village", the villagers call the next village, "the village down the road". Names are for distinguishing one place from another. When there aren't many places, there's no need for names.

After a few generations, people start using surnames and titles for themselves but those surnames are derived from descriptions, Like "Michael John's Son" or "Bill the Smith". After a few places crop up, they describe them, or nearby landmarks. "The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio's of the red cave" (Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysili ogogogoch (https://maps.google.com/maps?oe=UTF-8&q=llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysil iogogogoch&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x4865074555127ea1:0x3796f858a3501ce4,Llanfa irpwllgwyngyll,+Isle+of+Anglesey,+UK&gl=us&ei=DpPPUuuPLsL5oATt94K4BA&ved=0CIIBELYD) = a real place) Usually the actual names are shortened, or mangled, versions of the description. (Llanfair PG for the above).

And when a land is conquered, the conquerors may/may not change the names. Even visitors will muddy the naming waters.

So... I follow the trail. I don't go all out and invent an entire language for my people. I do invent some basic rules for their language, and a few words/phrases within those rules.

When I start a new character, I think about who he/she is, and what mom would have called him/her. When the character goes to a new place, he doesn't always know its' name. So I let him observe the people there, and I think what *they* would call the place. Once I know that, I can go back and fill in the name.

Nations and Worlds- that's all a matter of who is the dominant culture, or who is in power in the realm I'm fixated on. It doesn't matter what another culture calls their country if no one where I live knows what that is. I'm in the USA. I have to speak English here to be understood. So...


That's how I name things in my writing. I follow the bread crumbs. The same should be true in any medium. Even mapping.

If your map is commisioned by the Mayor of Mozzerelli, in the land of Cheesy'Bread, you have to name *most* things in Cheesish. Not everything. Some of the cities in Anchovi will be known by their anchovian names. But not the BIG stuff. Not the oceans, continents, the planet. Those are Cheesish, because your map is Cheesish. If the Emperor of Anchovi commissions the map, it will be in Anchovian.

I guess that makes Maps a bit more lenient... once you name your world in a novel, you're kind of stuck with it. :)

Mermaid Shayna
01-10-2014, 03:55 PM
I was actually just naking a doodle for the outline of a continent for a graphuc novel/manga-type story. It ended up looking a lot like the head of a eagle, so the name was obvious. The hook of the beak created a bay and stuff like that. I have to figure out scale, too, but I'll post an image later (I'm on my phone.)

IrmaZwart
01-31-2014, 03:32 PM
At first I just made up some random names without even thinking of how these names were created. But now I read this thread, I totally am going to change all my names, they need much more attention. Thanks!

Gamerprinter
01-31-2014, 03:50 PM
Kind of a funny story. When I first started developing my Japanese horror setting for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Kaidan. I was initially developing it for the CWBP (Community World Building Project) here in this forum. I had initially called my island chain, the empire of Asahi - since Asahi is Japanese for 'risng sun'. The problem is, that most people who don't speak Japanese, only know of the word Asahi, as a particular brand of Japanese beer. Not that I was afraid any kind of copyright issue, as Asahi is just a word and not a made-up product name, but I really didn't want to associate my game setting with alcohol...

So I started researching more deeply. Interestingly, I learned there was a Japanese story telling game played by samurai in the 15th century, called Hyakumonogatari Kaidan Kai - which means a collection of 100 ghost stories, with Kaidan meaning "ghost stories". The way the game is played, 100 lit candles are placed in a circle on the floor. All the participants sit inside the circle, while being watched by an audience outside the circle. Each participant tells a short ghost story, odd occurence or creepy tale and at completion wets his fingers and extinguishes a candle. Since there were usually only a half dozen or so participants, each had to tell a couple dozen tales each. Once all the candles are extinguished, it was believed that the story telliing and candle extinguishing was some sort of arcane ritual that summoned a demon to visit the players. The game was a test of courage played among samurai, although being very popular the game spread throughout society and lasted up until the arrival of Americans and the end of Shogunate Japan.

Since my intended setting was both feudal Japan based, and Asian horror, choosing Kaidan as its name seemed appropriate. More than that, however, naming a Japanese flavored story telling game, using the same name as a Japanese story-telling game that is hundreds of years old seemed too good to pass up. As kind of a reincarnation of an ancient Japanese game. Notably a twisted form of reincarnation is one of the built in mechanics of the setting - so Kaidan is almost custom designed to be the perfect solution.

For the rest of my setting, I've tried to both stay true to using the Japanese language, and trying not to duplicate any actual Japanese city or place name - I didn't want to infer any connection between my fiction and anywhere in actual Japan. So all city names, place names, provinces use actual Japanese words. Even the people (NPCs of the setting) use actual Japanese last names, but I have again tried to avoid using the whole names of known Japanese historical figures or modern celebrities. On the other hand of the setting's fictional founding is based on an actual historical event that occured on April 15, 1185 - the final battle of the Genpei War in Japan. The tale of the last battle and the suicide of an entire imperial house as a result of that event was the causing curse that creates Kaidan. While Kaidan is based on Japanese history (at least this particular point), it is a fictional place that otherwise has no direct connection to Japan.

Scoopz
02-11-2014, 03:47 PM
Not to belittle the epic tale of naming set forth before me, but I name all MY people/nations/worlds either ironically or satirically... or both.

codechino
02-27-2014, 10:50 AM
In general, when I'm defining a world, I'll work through it all in order of scale. At each scale (starting at global), I'll just brain dump place names. At the global scale, this generally means I'm writing down names of continents, major landforms, or even major political entities. I do this alphabetically. Start with A, write down a random place name, move on to B, etc. I might do this a few times. I end up with some really terrible names but some great ones, too. Over time, you end up with a good list of place names for all kinds of scenarios. If I'm naming something that needs a more intentional-sounding name, such as Port SomethingSomething, then I'll either whip that up on the fly or modify names already on my list.

Cee69
03-30-2014, 03:37 AM
I personally, use a mix of fantasy and existing. Sometimes I form the fantasy from the existing.

Given that I map mostly for stories and other projects I'm working on, my places have a whole history and what not. So, for example, when I'm working on a story that uses ancient Greece as a base, then some things can be tracked back to that time/world. Also, I think about what I name things. Whether that's a city, a building or an entire world. It needs to have meaning in my opinion.

For my world 'Kentro' (set in a fantasy galaxy), I looked up the word "center" or "middle". This is a world directly from the Greek language, given that I used ancient Greek as a base for this world. Kentro literally means center. I used that word because the inhabitants of that world really think everything revolves around them. They consider themselves to be the center of the galaxy.
Sometimes though, I just look up words with a certain meaning and brainstorm next on a fantasy word.

Currently I'm working on a world with several races, so the names will have different origins. Based on what background I give the creatures. For example, if I base a Dwarf society on old Germanic society, I will dive into that history and get my inspiration for everything related to my Dwarves from that time of our history.

I will never stop using my own imagination, but I will make sure that things don't get mixed up. Even a fantasy word must <i>sound</i> like it comes from the same language as the others. Whether that's a made up language or not, whether it's a fantasy word or not.

As for the order of naming things:
I don't really name things in a specific order, really but I usually start with the inhabitants of the world. Given that they in the end named their world, if you want to have a plausible story. If I use several races, there'll perhaps be several words for the same thing.
After that, I tend to run from big to small and back again. First the most important things/places/objects in the world and then work to the smaller, less important things.

Sorry for the long post, and I hope it's all clear :'D
~Cee

AuthorParmain
04-14-2014, 04:03 PM
Names are interesting things. Consider the names you've given to objects and locations in your local life. Things don't get Names. People and living creatures do. In our culture Names are things reserved for souled individuals(what we also call animacy) whereas names are things you call things. This is why you can wiggle your toes in the earth and contemplate the future of Earth. This also helps illustrate that language is cultural.

How do I names things? Well, which culture is naming this object, and how do they classify it? Is it a magic True Name or is it just a label?

With labels I start with the culture that will name the object, then I determine how the object fits into their world philosophy. After that I name the object using phonetics that the culture would likely use. I also try to avoid anything that sounds too cool. (Things like Deathstar, Bloodfeast, and Nemesis are right out, as are most biblical references.)

With True Names I like to go the complete opposite and base it entirely on what sounds cool, though I avoid faux Latin like an accursed copy of Twilight bound in tortured flesh of Justin Bieber. Faux Greek on the other hand....