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Thread: How do you name your World? (Or nations, etc., for that matter...)

  1. #1
      Karro is offline
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    Post How do you name your World? (Or nations, etc., for that matter...)

    So... I've been thinking the past few days, since I posted the latest update to my "unnamed" project, 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?
    Last edited by Karro; 08-07-2009 at 03:23 PM.
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      Gandwarf is offline
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    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.
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      Coyotemax is offline
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    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

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    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:

    Toponomy, or How to Name Places!
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    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    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'.
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      Karro is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeonKnight View Post
    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:

    Toponomy, or How to Name Places!
    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.
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      Coyotemax is offline
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    Erm yeah, looks like i misinterpreted/missed the actual point of the thread. Sorry, my bad

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      NeonKnight is offline
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    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.
    Daniel the Neon Knight: Campaign Cartographer User

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    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.

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      Karro is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coyotemax View Post
    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.
    I think, therefore I am a nerd.
    Cogito, ergo sum nerdem.

    Check out my blog: "The Undiscovered Author"
    It's the story of a writer... follow me in my simple quest to get published, and share your own writing stories, adventures and writerly tips.

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