Wednesday 26 February 2014

What's in a name?

First of all, I must apologise for not posting in a while. I have excuses, but not good ones so I will spare you. One reason this is taking me so long is that I find the subject matter difficult to write. In short, I am terrible at naming things. In my original vision post, as well as some accidental references in later posts, I refer to the city of darkness as Nocte. I hate this name, it just doesn’t seem to evoke the right feel to me. Sure, the latin root of the word is fine (by which I mean I looked up darkness in a latin dictionary and changed it a bit) but that doesn’t seem to be enough. The city in darkness takes inspiration from germanic and english sources, not latin ones.

You may be shaking your head at me right now, wondering why I am getting worked up about this. As I said, I am terrible at naming things and this obviously is going to be problematic not only for this blog, but for my general writing future. I hope some introspection will help me improve (and why not write about it at the same time to kill two birds with one stone?). So, onto the introspection. If I analyse some existing names and figure out what it is about them that evokes a certain image, I can build off that.

What images does the name Lostwithiel evoke? Perhaps lost in time as well as space, the tiny village lies nestled in some valley, wreathed in mist.

Durridge is a more industrial town, probably with identical, soulless rowhomes

Goolagah is a dry town, possibly on the outskirts of a desert. 

Runeheim is wreathed in snow and surrounded by fir trees. The buildings have high pitched rooves huddled together to escape the cold. 

Of course, my knowledge of world cultures (my world, apparently being defined as Europe and Australia) is influencing the views I have of these names. That is really the point I guess? On the other hand, the Kalamar campaign settings (one of my favourites) has internally consistent names that are fairly quick to learn. Bet Hander is obviously a Kalamaran city wheras Arnoden is Brandobian. This is not enough to really evoke an image in my mind that is distinct from the stereotypes of the Kalamaran cultures.

Here are some words I want associated with the name of The City in Darkness:

  • Dark
  • Night
  • Torchight
  • Guilds
  • Medieval
  • Gothic
  • Overpopulated
  • Polluted
What can I do with these? Let’s try some pseudo-german:
  • Drakenknacht
  • Nachtberg
  • Undunken
  • Verschberg
  • Flimmen
  • Gildenhalt

Well, I don’t think I hit the mark there, but it is at least, a start. Honestly, I had intended this post to be much longer, but I am so bad at naming that this is all I can manage. How embarassing!

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