My naming style
I have a certain form that I use as a basis for creating names for places, people, and things in my world of Eir and Dannorlan.
Its essentially a form of corrupted English with influences from specific languages to give it a consistent "feel".
For the northern parts of Dannorlan, I use names that are based on old English and German words. The southern areas are populated by different cultures, and are based on Anglicized Arabic/Persian/Hindi, at least on my official computer version, where I keep all the names in their original form, rather than "normalizing" them to a certain language, like what the Europeans always did in their colonies.
As an example for how it works, I may want to name a large historic fortress.
Well, this fortress is in an area ruled by the Lords of Angar, whose language is more akin to English. In this world, defensive structures are known as castles, holds, havens (safe places), forts, and other names. To identify this landmark as a fortification, I chose to give it the title "hold".
The fortress was originally constructed under the orders of, let's say, the now deceased grand duke named Varres the Great. So, whose hold is it? Its Varres'. So I call it The Hold of Varres.
Well, that's a name, sure, but people don't use those type of long titles for centuries - they give it a nickname, shorten it, or whatever. So that is what I do. Now the name changes to "Varres' Hold". But its a bit of a jumble so we'll just say "Varreshold".
Finally, the language is supposed to be English-ish, not English, so I can corrupt it a bit to give it some flavour.
"Hold" becomes "holt". A tiny bit of corruption in this case but it sounds more "exotic".
Therefor the end result is "Varresholt".
For a different fort called a "haven", named after Lord Muirian, I could call it Muirhaven, and possibly corrupt that to Muirharran. So, rather than Castle Muirian, I have Muirharran. Sounds rather fantasy-ish, and appears to belong to a culture that is identifiably not fairy-tale English.
For something different, let's say we have three main characters for our epic fantasy novel: Christopher, Jennifer, and William. If we want to make them sound less common, but can't think of enough names, we can simply corrupt the names. Keep a similar sound, but change it.
Christopher can become Kirstov, Jennifer can become Jeneive, and William can become Ilian. Sounds more interesting to me, at least (I'm not saying you shouldn't use the original names though).
I do this for anything - rivers, mountains, forests, water bodies, villages, titles, even simple names of people.
I just change the organization and naming conventions a bit.
Lastly, I'll use Dannorlan as an example. What does it sound like? Quite a bit like The North Lands. I couldn't think of a name, so I called it what it was, geographically speaking, and warped that for my placeholder name.
Well, that's my sample of a naming method.
just a little ethmological food for thought:
The human is a very lazy being. This counts especially on the way of speaking. To give an example:
You mentioned the Name Muirharran
Then you should organize it like this:
Muirharran is the youngest version, because its the most complicated name.
While the time advances, the name is changed.
I would say the first point of changing would be "Muir".It would probably be changed into just "Mur". The next step would be "rh". This is in my eyes the most complicated after "Muir", so i would say
it would be changed to Murarran. When you speak it you will recognize that the rarra is not very confortable. So it would end up at "Murarn" maybe later just Muran or Murar.
The same could be used on "Varresholt", i would end up at "Varsolt".
This is just a little tipp for city names, wich are used several times in a country, but in different time periods.
Repetitive names do seem to exist, looking at Germany's Bergs and other such things. But as a note, I only add the suffixes to castles and seas and other things which have titles to distinguish them from villages. Villages are named after people or things, so I don't add a suffix, and thus don't run into the problem of repetitiveness.
The reason it remains Varresholt and Muirharran is because to the people who live there, holt and harran are part of their modern language. They aren't things like borough or shire, which aren't used in everyday conversation in English these days. So while to us it sounds like Muiran, to them its still a combination of two words which they know the meaning of.
While traders and locals may slur it, its still written in its proper form, just like how we still write it Toronto, even though everyone says Toronno.
it was not a sort of critizism at your way of finding names. It was just a tipp for longer time periods. In the ethmological perspective "Toronto" is a young name. That the people start to speak it in a different way is a serious sign for a name change in the future. But maybe not in our lives, and not in the live of or children or their children. It is a very long period.
When you say that harran is part of the modern language, than it is, in a ethmological perspective, young as well. And Words that are used often in every day live change their shape even faster.
But thats really not necessary in the type of maps you want to create, you only need it for creating a continent with a(known) history of thousands of years.
I especially like the short-hand pronunciations. Take for example, Worchestershire. No one says "Wor-ches-ter-shire" .. but something more like "Warst-er-shur".
Not to thread-jack, but as Jebus pointed out , we don't really use "shire" any more except as a place-name. Before the Norman conquest, "shire" was used to describe what is now referred to as a county. Similarily, the word Sheriff is derived from "Shire Reeve" -- an official responsible for keeping the peace within the county. This is still effectively true, even here in the U.S. For example, I live in Sacramento, CA. The city police force is "Sac PD", wheras the police force for the remainder of the county is the Sacramento Sheriff's Department.