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Can I use oliphaunts in my story?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by rktho, Sep 15, 2018.

Should I use oliphaunts in my story?

Poll closed Sep 22, 2018.
  1. Oliphaunt is fine and shouldn't get you in trouble.

    60.0%
  2. Spell it without a u and you should be good.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Just to be safe, call them war mammoths.

    30.0%
  4. Yes, but you should call them _____________.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. No, I would choose a different gigantic animal.

    10.0%
  1. rktho

    rktho Troubadour

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    I have a character who lives in the carcass of a gigantic war beast he's turned into a tent. I'm heavily leaning towards a giant elephant creature, but if 'oliphaunt' is like 'hobbit' for fantasy writers, I could call it a war mammoth, or else choose a different beast to gigantify (taking suggestions.)
     
  2. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    I personally never liked the name oliphaunt, as it's pronounced the same way as my native Dutch "olifant" but spelled weirdly. To me it just feels like an odd bastardisation of an animal name, and I much prefer Tolkien's synonym 'Mûmakil'.

    I'd come up with something of your own to avoid any criticism and possible lawsuits if your work hits off. War mammoth will do though.
     
    Skybreaker Sin K'al and rktho like this.
  3. rktho

    rktho Troubadour

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    Yeah, that sounds good.
     
  4. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    I use the variant oliphant for any of various Elephantidae in The World. But for giant war beasts, they have the curundrow, a whopper not unlike the sivatherium for size.

    Tolkien may have been a philologist, but he doesn't hold the copyright on the English language, and oliphant / olifant are just historical variants of elephant. For me, oliphant and elephant are homophones, so no weirdness in reading!

    What's neat about oliphant that doesn't work for elephant is that it also means a single curved war or hunting horn, so you get twice the bang for your ten shilling bill.
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Oliphant is a real word. I don't have a problem with it.
     
    rktho likes this.
  6. rktho

    rktho Troubadour

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    Hey Steerpike! How are things at the other site?
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I haven't had a lot of time on forums lately due to work. Trying to get back into the habit if I can :)
     
    rktho likes this.
  8. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Specifically, "olyfaunt" is Middle English for elephant which was borrowed from the Old French variant "oliphant". Tolkien was of course a scholar of Middle English and so got the term from there. He didn't make it up.
     
  9. Leafar the Lost

    Leafar the Lost Scribe

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    I say go for it. :)
     
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