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Names for languages and witches/warlocks?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by EarlTheRed, Jul 15, 2019.

  1. EarlTheRed

    EarlTheRed Dreamer

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    In my world there is a language that only the spirits and some of the magic using mortals know, though anyone has the ability to learn it. This language automatically connects to the Spirit Realm, so it would probably be disastrous for a non-magic using mortal to try to speak it. Anyway, for now I'm calling it the Ancient Language, but I want to change it because there's already a special magic language called the Ancient Language in the Eragon books. The problem is I can't think of anything else to call it.

    The way the spirits speak is through the Spirit Realm, and I think I should probably have a name for when someone's doing that, but I can't think of one.

    In this world the 'good' mortal magic users are all called wizards, regardless of gender, and the 'evil' mortal magic users have two different names, warlocks for the males and witches for the females. The thing is I need something to call the witches and warlocks collectively, I was thinking maybe sorcerers, but I don't know, that doesn't seem quite right.

    If you have any name ideas or advice on how to get a name, I'd be very grateful. Many thanks in advance, and many pleases postponed.
     
  2. Nighty_Knight

    Nighty_Knight Acolyte

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    I’ll throw you a few ideas.
    Primeval Tongue
    The Forgone Language


    You could refer to witches and warlocks as hexers as well.
     
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  3. Avadyyrm

    Avadyyrm Dreamer

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    Witches and Warlocks sound fine, people will get a general idea of who and what they are. If you are looking for names that sound mystical, like for example, the Aes Saedi or something (WoT) then I can list some. And for what the language of magic is called try:

    The Unspoken Tongue
    Spiritspeak
    Godspeak
    The Language Without A Name
     
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  4. EarlTheRed

    EarlTheRed Dreamer

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    Thank you both very much. Those are all great ideas and I'll have to decide which one I like best, or maybe I'll end up coming up with something similar, either way, thank you... again.
     
  5. elemtilas

    elemtilas Sage

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    "Ancient language" is simply a description. Greek is as much an Ancient Language as Sumerian or Egyptian. There is no reason why you can't use that term; though you could try for something synonymous like Old Tongue or the like.

    But I wonder, is it actually an ancient language? If it's supposed to be a "spirit world language", why not look into actual spiritualism languages, like Enochian, and find inspiration there? What do you call some of your spirit beings? Perhaps you might consider naming the language after one of them.


    Hm...

    If you're using those kinds of names, in one sense it really doesn't matter which you choose. Since magic, as is traditionally defined and described in most fantasy works does not exist in the primary world, there is simply no sense in any distinctions between words. You just have to be consistent and you have to define your terms within the story that your readers will understand. Be ware, however: your readers will be approaching these words from a variety of backgrounds, with diverse preconceptions & expectations and with differences in linguistic, genre, religious and other social understandings of of these words. You've got the WW generation for whom "witches are girl and wizards are boys"; you've got LotR folks for whom "wizards" are a particular class of angelic beings; you've got D&D folks for whom these are distinct professional classes with distinct roles in society. And then you've got the linguistically & philologically aware who know what these words actually mean through time.

    At first sight, I wouldn't necessarily balk at the association of Good or Light with wizard. It means one who is habitually wise or belongs to the class of people who are wise. (Though do be aware that -ard has taken on a rather negative connotation in French and English, though I do believe the word wizard has been rehabilitated.) I would (and do) wonder however why you would distinguish between female and male for the Evil or Dark practitioners. Warlock makes sense being on the Dark side, because they are truth breakers and deceivers. Their magic would likely be of a selfish and deprivatory nature. Witch doesn't make sense on the side of Evil or in general because, first of all, there is no traditional or linguistic sex or gender association with either word (outside of Diznee and Wicca) but mostly because the word seems to be more associated with divination and prophecy and eventually with healing and "natural" magics. Witches are the "wise folk" (in literature most often older women) who live on the edges of society, in the tumble down cottages on the verges of the wild woods, the people you go to when your milch cow is producing only sour milk or when your wife has miscarried thrice in a row or the crops are sickly.

    My basic argument then would be: why do you need specific words for male vs female? Are you perhaps unconsciously or subconsciously injecting your (?) modern socio-political perspective into the narrative and its underlying world? Note: my issue isn't thát you want to distinguish male & female mages; it is that I can't see the in-world rationale for it. And that strikes me as too out-world for comfort.

    This is one reason why worldbuilding before writing helps: you can't really write a convincing story from within a fictional world until you understand that world and its cultures. I know, in general, the usual advice hereabouts is largely to only do enough worldbuilding to suit the story and also to focus on writing at the expense of worldbuilding. And I understand that perspective. This is first and foremost a writers' forum, and writers need to write! But I'd argue that this is an example of how poor or incomplete or not-well-thought-out worldbuilding can easily destroy the narrative.

    I can't tell you what way to go or what words to choose, but I can only counsel that if you care about the quality of your narrative, you would do well to do the background work on your fantasy world before your write the story. It all comes down to quality of foundation work.
     
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  6. Nessa Phoenix

    Nessa Phoenix Acolyte

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    For the language, I'd recommend searching other words for Spirit and Language. Like, Soul for Spirit and Tongue for Language. That would make Soul Tongue. Soulspeak? Or maybe translate the world Spirit in other languages and use the one you like the most.

    For the beings, I'll go for Hexers like someone else recommended earlier or maybe Casters or mages. Darkcasters?
     
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  7. EarlTheRed

    EarlTheRed Dreamer

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    You make good points, and you're right. I probably shouldn't have gender distinctions for the 'evil' magic users unless I also have them for the 'good' ones, I guess. I had the distinction for no real reason, I just felt like using the words 'warlock' and 'witch'. I used witch for the female 'evil' magic users because I remember the definition of witch being someone who does dealings with the devil, and I know historically witches aren't necessarily female, but in more kinda modern things they are, so I just went with it. I actually really like some of the suggestions others are giving for the collective name, so maybe I'll make 'wizards' be the collective name for the 'good' ones and give the males and females different titles, maybe sorcerers and sorceresses? I'll figure it out.

    I do do world building stuff before writing, most of the time, I did with this story, but I suppose I'm not very good at it, or maybe I just don't think things through enough.

    Thank you very much, I really like Soul Tongue and Soulspeak, I haven't tried the translation thing yet, but it's a great idea and I will try it. Also, I really like Darkcasters, so I might use that for the witches and warlocks.
     
  8. Cormarc

    Cormarc New Member

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    When discussing the name of a language, I think it's important to know the context and culture of the speaker. If it is an ancient language that is far removed from the common tongue of your present narrative, then it would have a name for itself in its own language. To use a real world example, the language of the people of China is called Chinese/Mandarin in English, taught as Hua Yu/Zhong Wen or Chinese Language/Middle Language around the world, but called Pu Tong Hua/Guo Yu meaning Normal Speak/Country Language within China itself. I feel that geography and culture is an important factor when it comes to names.

    Also if the language is only understood by Magic Users of your world, then it would most likely be called differently by magical and non-magic peoples. Magic Users will most likely call it by its actual name in the language itself (since they can understand the language), which means it wont be a word in the common tongue of your narrative. However, non-magic users that speak the common tongue may also have different names for the language according to how they feel about magic. If a community hates magic, they may refer to it as Foul tongue or Dark speak, if they revere or respect magic, they could call it God speak or High tongue, if its a neutral designation then it could be something like Ancient Speak, Magic Speak, Words of Magic, the Old Words.

    In the case of the names of magic users, it's really up to you. Traditionally, in the real world context, the word "Witch" has no gender classification (thanks J.K. Rowling), both males and females can be witches, like Angmar the Witch-King in Tolkien's Middle Earth or the witch trials which sentenced both man and women for witchcraft. You could place gender classification as you like in your own narratives, and there really is no hard and fast rules for titles and naming of magic users.
     
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  9. EarlTheRed

    EarlTheRed Dreamer

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    Thanks, you make a lot of sense. I think I may have considered different people calling the language different things depending on how they feel about magic, but I'm not sure, that might have been about something else. Either way I probably should do that. And the name in the language, that's going to be difficult, but it makes too much sense not to do. Thank you... again.
     
  10. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    I think for this, I would try to imagine what the language would sound like if spoken by those using it, and make up a word that sounds like something they might say, or a close approximation. Since I am making up a word, the cultural and time/temporal aspects would be useful to serve as a guide.

    I would think this would equate to a modern day Medium, so it might be useful to find out what a Medium might call their contact with the spirit world. I suspect they would say the spirits speak in some ancient language, like latin, or aramiac or such, but maybe they have a term.

    Some terms that would seem to mean this type of speech might be:

    Channeling
    Sooth Saying
    Talking in Tongues

    Perhaps Augury and Divination.
     
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  11. EarlTheRed

    EarlTheRed Dreamer

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    That is great advice, and I will try it out, thank you.
     
  12. Nessa Phoenix

    Nessa Phoenix Acolyte

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    I'm glad you liked my suggestions and that I could help you in a way. Feel free to use them if you want.
     
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  13. elemtilas

    elemtilas Sage

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    Right. This is why writers & worldbuilders do research! There's nothing wrong with this definition, but you should be aware that it's context is from a later, Christian society. One that was acutely attuned to such doings. In modern times, many Christians no longer make that strong association and the word (witch) is becoming less associated with the devil per se.


    True that. If that's the vibe you're after, then who am I to needlessly criticise!

    Sure!

    Don't knock yourself so! It's not really a matter of being "good" at research. It's a matter of depth and diligence. Researchers are always asking themselves "well, now why is that?" That question opens up all kinds of interesting avenues. It may not help your particular situation, but it will give you a more solid foundation for next time!
     
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