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Kingdom Names

Discussion in 'World Building' started by TheCatholicCrow, Jun 17, 2015.

  1. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

    I've been trying to think of a name for my kingdom/continent for literally more than a year now and I still can't really find something that I like. (It's Low (medieval) Fantasy) There are 5 cultures that inhabit the nation but only 3 are actively represented. One is pan-European though influenced heavily by Medieval Britain, another is influenced by (Germany and) Eastern Europe and in the land between them lies a consumer-based culture that blends the "don't ask questions" approach of one culture w the opportunistic values of the other. I have tried to use Fantasy name generators but most of the names they suggest are garish and would look ridiculous considering the general simplicity of the cities within it. Some look more like a sequence of scrabble letters than pronounceable names.

    Of course it is always evolving but thus far the city names are:
    King's Capital,
    West Brook,
    Haethon Hall,
    Eriden Hall,
    Irinian Inn,
    Main Market,
    Port Mariana
    and Karrstad

    I was hoping that something would miraculously come to me but it doesn't look like that will be the case. Any ideas? (please & thank you!)
  2. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    Ever used any name generators?

    As long as geographic locations in close proximity to each other have names that have a commonality it should be cool. If you create names out of thin air then just pay attention to how they sound. I just tried to use geographical names that were either taken from real languages or made up ones that sounded similar to the region of Europe they were based on. So some would sound more "British", some similar to the romance languages (mainly Italian and Spanish), some Slavic sounding and some Nordic or Germanic sounding.

    I think the list you have is pretty good so far.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  3. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    You mentioned Britain and Germany. And those city names are pretty English. So, I think Old English is your best bet.

    Here's some old ideas...

    I don't know. I don't think names are that important. Just pick a name and eventually, you'll get use to it. That's how most people are with place names: we're so used to "America" or whatever that we just accept it.
    TheCatholicCrow likes this.
  4. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    Don't know if this will help you, but here's what I did:

    1. Thought about the characteristic of each kingdom - one mountain, one coastal, and one desert.
    2. Looked up non-English names for mountain, ocean, and desert (Hawaiian words are really cool!)
    3. Combined parts of the words to come up with Bermau, Kiacia, and Dastanar.

    EDIT: I think the really important thing (that I didn't mention at all) is to figure out a way to determine the name and just go with it. It's so much less important than we think it is.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
    Alcowski and TheCatholicCrow like this.
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I'm a little confused. You say it's one kingdom, but there are five cultures within it? And that kingdom spans an entire continent?

    I'm probably being too much the historian here, but bear with me. A nation is a people, and a people (for the most part) have a king. A "culture" is a modernism that maps most closely to the old meaning of nation as a people. Same laws, same religion, same ruler. Sometimes you can get a "king of kings" or an emperor, who can rule across multiple peoples, but even then it's pretty extraordinary for that system to cover every square inch of an entire continent. There are nearly always pockets of independence.

    I say all that because it conditions (for me) how a name gets chosen. Place names are usually highly local--a river, a mountain, a forest, a town. A region gets a name more from its people--its nation--than from anything abstract. France is the land of the Franks. England is the land of the Angles.

    So, my first instinct is to ask what is the name of the people (nation) who live in your kingdom. But then you say there are five different peoples, so that's where I get stumped. Do they share the same religion? If so, you might use that. Europe was not called that until the early modern era. Before that, it was Christendom.

    But I sympathize. Coming up with a general name for one's world (which sounds more like what you're after) is tough, and good ones are rare. That's why I knew, when I came up with Altearth, I had to write stories set there. It was too good of a name. It's also why I'm only inventing one world!

    More of a philosophical post than a useful one, I'm afraid. WooHooMan's suggestions are good ones.
    TheokinsJ and TheMirrorMage like this.
  6. Gryphos

    Gryphos Auror

    If this is the only continent/nation in the story, then you could just refer to it as something like 'The Continent'.
    TheCatholicCrow likes this.
  7. Tom

    Tom Istar

    ...Where everyone has asthma and wears a black helmet. :D

    On a more serious note, Catholic Crow, I think you should look at the languages of the cultures yours are based on for inspiration. I'd look at Polish names especially--their sound combinations and general "look" are very unique.
  8. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

    Personally, I don't care much about kingdoms names as long as they sound like a name of a country. However, one thing which allows break my suspense of disbelief is bad character names- like for example when two characters who are supposed to be from the same nation having different style of naming, or when characters from lets say egypt themed country have names that sound more german, japanese or british.
    TheCatholicCrow likes this.
  9. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

    Kingdom is probably the wrong name- Empire is more accurate. 2 of 3 cultures are non-human and while they're on the continent they generally keep to themselves along the border. America is 1 nation but we still have a difference b/n East & West coast cultures - I'd say even the MidWest has a distinct subculture. My understanding is much more loose - I would say even LA & San Diego have different cultures (SD is conservative & laid back, LA is liberal & fast paced).

    The people in the East are almost entirely independent. Nobody checks up on them as long as they keep agricultural production up and pay their taxes. The West is really where the heart of the "kingdom" lies and the MiddleLands (original - I know) lies beneath the main port and has its fair share of merchants and foreigners. So while the political heart is in the west, the economic heart is roughly in the center. There are different religions and social values associated w ea region. But as you pointed out, the East is more of a tributary state than a proper portion of the kingdom.
    This is the reough sketch that I've been working off of.
  10. stephenspower

    stephenspower Inkling

    The land should be named after what the first person who arrived or had major power called it. Or it could relate to where those people came from (says the guy born in New York and who lives in New Jersey). For instance the Chinese like to point out that the Japanese must be descended from them because where do you have to be standing to see the rising sun rising over that Japan? China. Or it could be named, like America, after a mapmaker. Or it could be a bit of marketing. Greenland is covered in ice, but the Vikings who wanted people to settle there weren't stupid enough to call it Land With Little Arable Acreage. Or it could be named after a settler or a person who founded a country such as Bolivia. Finding a good name will actually be a great exercise in creating a backstory.

    This brings up a nit, in my opinion, in George Martin's world. Westeros was likely named (the etymology is not in World of Ice and Fire or the novels) by the settlers from Essos because it was west of where they came from. But why is Essos called Essos? The people who lived there wouldn't have call it that. It wasn't east of anything so far as they knew. Essos could be, I guess, a backformation by the descendants of the settlers of Westeros years later to give a name to that place across the sea they had never been themselves.
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    To me, that just looks like The World. No need for another name, because the people there don't know of any other place. It's why we call our planet a synonym for dirt.

    But it's all one kingdom, right? So, you want your king to be called the King of ....


    Without other context, he might simply be called the King. Or the King of the People. Or the Divine Emperor. Not of any place in particular because he's king of *every* place.

    I guess I'm still not quite getting it.
    TheCatholicCrow likes this.
  12. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

    There's a possibility I hadn't considered. There is a port where it is suggested that they import and trade with other nations and there are other things implied throughout the text that there are other foreign nations but they are alluded to vaguely as things like "far away places" (not that exactly but you get my point). I could remove these from the text. Their impact is not huge one way or the other. The markets might not be there b/c of the port but simply b/c the people from both the east and west need to conduct business together but there's too much tension b/n them- the middle men capitalize on this.

    I suppose "The Kingdom" could work but it makes for a much less compelling title ;)

    Thanks everyone!
    Alcowski likes this.
  13. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    I did something like that. If I couldn't find a good sounding name that was actually from a real language I'd just do some kind of mixup that sounded similar to the other place names in the area.

    As long as you aren't doing the cliche map names like in that other thread you should have plenty of room for creativity. We don't need anymore dark forests or doom mountains. At least not the English version. :)
    Alcowski likes this.
  14. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    Just off the top of my head, what about Anhaldor?
  15. ChasingSuns

    ChasingSuns Sage

    I love looking up words that translate to things that have to do with my locations. I will look up several translations for each word and just start mixing, matching, and reorganizing syllables and letters until I find something that sounds right. You'd be amazed at how helpful this can be :D
  16. evolution_rex

    evolution_rex Inkling

    This is essentially what I do.

    Also, don't be afraid if the origin of your kingdom's name is obvious. I know I use to worry all the time that if you could tell where the name came from then it was lazy. But really, you should only worry about what rolls off the tongue best, because if it rolls of the tongue then people won't notice.
    TheCatholicCrow likes this.
  17. Bruce McKnight

    Bruce McKnight Troubadour

    What works for me is thinking of the country/culture that I modeling after, then going to that country in Google Maps and zooming in really close to look at the names of small towns and streets. It really helps me with inspiration and a lot of times I just steal names as they are.

    It works for character names too: the supporting characters in The Simpsons are all named after streets in Portland.
  18. Snowpoint

    Snowpoint Sage

    I once had the idea that Big places, like countries, would have short names. (like 3 letters each) and smaller and smaller places would have longer and longer names. The smaller the place, the longer name it has.
  19. TheokinsJ

    TheokinsJ Troubadour

    At their heart, names are a description of places or people. The names of Kingdoms are no different; kingdom (and empire) names, are named usually after people or landmarks. A few examples;
    The Roman Empire was known as 'the Roman Empire', because the Capital was 'Rome', which was named after the legendary figure 'Romulus'.

    The Kingdom of 'Northumbria' in England during the Viking Age, was called 'Northumbria', because the Kingdom was North of the River 'Humber', so the kingdom's name essentially means to 'North of the river Humber'.

    Names in Scandinavia (and England) from the Migration Era to the late Viking Age are usually literal translations of what the land is like or what things inhabit it; 'Crow-Land', 'Iceland', 'Greenland', etc.

    Other place names originate from what landmarks are already present there- remember, names change: 'Bath' in England, is named so because of the Roman Baths and spas that were built all across the city; however, in Roman times the city would certainly not have been called that- it was a later name given by the later inhabitants who came and conquered when the Romans left.

    To think up a name for a kingdom, a settlement or a province or place, just think of land-marks, or people, and everything stems from there, hope this helped! :)
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