1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Naming a Fantasy World

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Black Dragon, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. Dante Sawyer

    Dante Sawyer Troubadour

    122
    2
    18
    Joe the Gnarled- Thanks for the link man, it's fantastic!
     
  2. fcbkid15

    fcbkid15 Scribe

    45
    3
    8
    I've named my world Elimithy, but i'm still not sure about it.
     
  3. legacyblade

    legacyblade Dreamer

    17
    0
    1
    Unless the inhabitants in your world have space travel, they'd have no reason to name their planet. They wouldn't really have the concept on a planet. They'd have a word for "world" and a word for "dirt". If you want to give your world a name, use whatever the inhabitants would call dirt or the world (in keeping with the mentality that works of fantasy are translated from another language, so the translator would have used the native word for dirt or world to help his readers differentiate between the other world and our own). But since dirt is common and the world is common as well (they see it all the time), they both would be frequently refereed to. Words that are used frequently eventually become smaller as the language evolves. I mean even Japanese, which has really long words, uses a 2 syllable word (sekai) for earth. Off the top of my head, I can't think of many words that short in japanese. I don't think I can think of any 1 syllable words either (unless you're counting honorifics)

    However, if you want to name a country, that's different. Narnia was a country in the alternate world, so it had a fancy name. Either name the country after something the inhabitants would be proud of (even if it's in a different language, such as a fictitious word for moon) or something related to their religion.

    Hope that helps.
     
  4. Forsta-Phoenix

    Forsta-Phoenix Dreamer

    20
    0
    1
    I'd have to disagree with you there, cultures throughout history have observed the stars at night and have noticed that certain points of light move around with a regular motion and ascribed them to be orbiting a body. This body has changed from the earth (wrong) to the sun (still wrong) and now we understand that the planets orbit the centre of mass of the solar system (discovered in our world fully in 1619), but I would assume that a culture in a typical fantasy setting would believe one of the first two methods. So I think that most fantasy cultures that are at least as advanced as say the ancient egyptians or greeks to have some definition of orbiting bodies, and call them something similar to a planet and have names for most of the bodies, and heck even some of their moons! For instance chinese astronomers claimed to of seen bodies orbiting jupiter as early as the 3rd century BCE! So even if a fantasy culture isn't any where near as technologically advanced as ours that doesn't directly imply that they don't have a clue about their stellar surroundings.

    Whilst I agree that frequently used words are shortened in general usage that doesn't mean that the official title for the land (because who's to say it's a planet, i.e. diskworld) that a culture is based upon wouldn't have a longer more lyrical/poetic name. Personally I think that provided it fits in with the culture that a character is from they can call it whatever they like, but it would tend to be one to three syllables long.

    One way I sometimes resort to for naming a world, continent or what have you is to choose a word that describes your setting pretty well and then see what it the literal translations are in a variety of different languages and see if you can mash a few together or borrow some syllables from one or two of them!
     
  5. legacyblade

    legacyblade Dreamer

    17
    0
    1
    I should rephrase what I meant. I was saying that they're just kinda lumped together as celestial bodies, even if they do have a distinction between stars and planets. As far as I know (which I will admit is very little) on the history of astronomy, life on other planets and inhabitable other planets are a modern-ish concept. And that's why names for the planet (As aside from just calling it "the world" or referring to the dirt) is a modern concept. I could be wrong, but that's what I think.

    Though i will concede that ya, it makes sense that a culture could have a more poetic way to refer to the earth (such as "lunar sphere" instead of moon). Though I think they'd also have, for lack of a better word, a nickname for the planet (for use during everyday conversation). I know that if a game, book, or movie has a long title, I always come up with a short version of it that I call it during conversations on the subject.
     
  6. Forsta-Phoenix

    Forsta-Phoenix Dreamer

    20
    0
    1
    Actually ever since people have been able to use telescopes to actually resolve planetary bodies as more than specks of light on the night sky, and probably long before that, people have thought that life existed on other planets. Whilst not believing in aliens per se they did believe that similar forms of life were around on other planets and this was thought to be the case right up until till the viking landers we sent to Venus that proved it to be an acidic uninhabitable place, and then we designed telescopes powerful enough to see how most planets and moons were infact just balls of rock or gas and the idea of life on most planets began to fade from public opinion. My father had a book about what other planets were like and it showed an illustration of dinosaurs! on venus! Really dissapointed that was not the case! :p As a bit of an aside I recall that the vatican has even made some decree or other about whether God loves aliens in the same way he loves humans, can't remember what was decided though.

    And I do agree with you on having a shortened name for the planet will be used in every day conversation, I was just pointing out that a group of people might have a longer more officious name for it!
     
  7. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    1,228
    256
    63
    Both of my worlds, oddly enough, only have one continent, so the name for the world is the same as the name for the land. In one of my stories, it is Molusk, which was chosen for a couple of reasons: one, the world is inside a large shell (like a mollusk, with the extra L), and two, it is the name of a satellite of some sort mentioned in the third Gormenghast book. So that. In my current project, I am undecided, but I am heading towards Miseria. All of the names in my story are Latin, so I went with 'Miseria' instead of just 'Misery'. I went with 'misery' for two reasons, the first being that the continent is all but uninhabitable (most people live at sea, or on the small islands scattered around), and the second being that a lot of the world is based on Egypt, and the Arabic word for Egypt is (romanized) Misr. I wanted an M-name, too, both for the likeness it holds with Mexico (the other dominant basis for the world) and because I just like the letter M (I did name my other world Molusk, after all).
     
  8. legacyblade

    legacyblade Dreamer

    17
    0
    1
    Oh wow. I didn't know that. Well I guess I can factor ideas about life on other planets into religion in world building :D Gives me more options. I really should study history more, it'd help give me insight into smaller things like this.

    I wish venus was that cool. Plus it'd help with overpopulation :p But seriously? Decree about God's love for aliens? That's freaking awesome! I don't think I'll ever forget that interesting tidbit.

    Aye, that's the point I was going for. And I will concede that people will come up with longer poetic ways to refer to anything, if they want to be formal.
     
  9. I do what I can around here :cool:
     
  10. JustSpiffy

    JustSpiffy Minstrel

    56
    0
    6
    My world shall be called Tit! No, but seriously, for me the name of the world is just as important as the name of the characters. I've been struggling with this one for a while. I really like middle earth, or mid-kernia (from the magician's apprentice), but of course those are taken! And even using middle makes me a little nervous that people will accuse me of plagiarism.

    Maybe i'll use Terranus... The world off Terranus! A play of terrain. :p
     
  11. legacyblade

    legacyblade Dreamer

    17
    0
    1
    Must resist making jokes about tearing an anus...
     
  12. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

    741
    28
    18
    Ouch! No fun. :(
     
  13. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

    723
    44
    28
    My world is an artificial world, created by the ancestors of the living peoples. In the language of magic the name of the world means "lock and key." The ancestors originally lived on Earth but removed themselves when they removed the "evil people" after they caused the Black Plague. The world the ancestors created was the "seal" between Earth and the world the evil people were forced into.
     
  14. Personally, the name has to fit the world in some way. Not only does it have to sound right, but it has to look right.

    Anyway, for my world I named it Rasadae (there is a trema on the 'e', so it is pronounced 'RAS-a-DAY-e'). Really, naming a world shouldn't be that hard and shouldn't take too long. The decision to name it Rasadae took about five seconds. I simply decided that was the world's name, and it stuck. It is somewhat unconventional (doesn't end with -ia) but I like it.
     
  15. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    3,596
    1,505
    163
    Just because no one else has said it... Tolkein didn't invent Middle Earth, he borrowed it from norse mythology. If you look at one of the old covers, the Hobbit cover has runes all over it. A lot of his story was inspired by norse myth, so I don't think it would be at all plagiarism. The Norse believed there were many levels to the world, and the middle one, Midgard (Middle Garden), was where people lived.
    It stands to reason that any people might call their world "middle-something" after all, the Norse believed we were in the middle, Christians thought we were in the middle, who knows how many peoples' mythology puts humans below the gods and above the underworld or creepy crawly things they don't understand, or whatever.
    The Norse have one of the richest mythologies, and a lot of artists (authors, musicians, painters, sculptors) have drawn inspiration from their stories. In fact, if you have some time, I'd recommend one I own, "Myths of the Norsemen from the Eddas and Sagas," H.A. Guerber. It is readable, which some I've seen are not, but not dummed down. It might give you some more naming ideas, they use lots of names derived from words and nature and element and whatever else.
     
  16. But Norse mythology is actually a lie, because it's not actually Norse.

    The 'Norse' mythologies were based on a document that may have been Norse, in very bad condition. The man who wrote them out was Christian too, so Norse mythology isn't actually norse.

    Oh, I forgot to mention the other world that I've mildly fleshed out. It doesn't have a proper name, but I'm just calling it Manchuria for now (the name of the central region of the empire, and I made the name up before realising it was a region of China). Currently the story surrounding that isn't very solid, but I'm going to work out the kinks in it over the next couple of months/years whilst I write my other books.
     
  17. Hans

    Hans Sage

    219
    15
    18
    You mean Snorri Sturluson? He was Icelander, which could be considered Norse.
    Yes, he was christian, so his handbook for scalds could be christianized. But in the foreword he says he did not do that, because no good christian would believe these myths anyway.
     
  18. JustSpiffy

    JustSpiffy Minstrel

    56
    0
    6
    Oh god! Well, back to the drawing board... :l
     
  19. Kaellpae

    Kaellpae Inkling

    412
    6
    18
    I didn't read it like that originally. Ahah!
    Sadly, anything with Annus or Anus would probably get a few chuckles.
    Poor, poor Uranus.
     
  20. Theankh

    Theankh Scribe

    29
    2
    3
    I haven't named my world. Or half the places in it, even. I'm not very good at that aspect - I just write the scene and then go 'actually, I should really put a name for that in here'.
     
Loading...

Share This Page