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Naming conventions

Discussion in 'World Building' started by cak85, Apr 28, 2021.

  1. cak85

    cak85 Scribe

    Since I am trying to create a fantasy culture and world that is totally different than our own I have been working on naming convention of the flora and fauna of my world. I was thinking of naming the plants and animals with the pattern of adjective-noun:

    Here are a few examples:

    river-lizard: looks like a crocodile with horns and some back spikes
    dagger-beak: basically a crow-sized flying lizard
    boulder-face: like a very large grouper
    stone-fish: kind of like a cross between a shrimp and crab

    I have a few reasons for this

    1: laziness/efficiency: I don't want to come up with fantasyish names that I only use like once or twice. And also hopefully to make it easier for potential readers to learn names of animals and plants. No disrespect to people who are very into coming up with names. Not really for me though.

    2: more importantly this fits my world. The main group my WIP are a group of grey-skinned giants who live on a small archipelago in the middle of the ocean. Even though they use stone-age technology they have a highly structured society. (I can go on about this but won't for the sake of brevity).


    Anyways, just curious if this sound cheesy or like I am appropriating indigenous cultures? I also am really trying to make my world and peoples unique so I am not culturally appropriating from already existing cultures.
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    IRL many plant and animal names decode to more mundane descriptions, so I wouldn't worry too much on that point.
    For me, it matters that you are happy with the names? Do they fit the tone of your writing?
    cak85 likes this.
  3. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

    The examples of names you've used are hardly likely to offend anyone. They're good, descriptive terms to describe certain creatures in your world. Exotic enough to be different but similar enough that people won't need to pronounce a non-English name.

    I prefer Polynesian names because it's part of my cultural heritage and because I don't have a struggle with pronouncing them as a lot of place names in New Zealand are Polynesian (Maori). I'm not going to get upset if other writers do the same but they should be aware of what the names might mean.

    After all Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokai-whenuakitanatahu means "hence the name indicating the hill on which Tamatea, the chief of great physical stature and renown, played a lament on his flute to the memory of his brother".
    cak85 likes this.
  4. LAG

    LAG Minstrel

    If it fits into dialogue and your world, you can use anything.

    In terms of cultural appropriation, don't sweat about it. Humans have had millions of cultures through the ages and it's always likely that somewhere a population has done/is doing something the author is implementing into a society. You are creating your own world, so even deliberate usage of real human cultures to enrich those in your world to an extent is completely acceptable.
    cak85 likes this.
  5. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

    The Japanese word for seagull is "Umineko," which means "ocean cat," because the sound they make sounds like the sounds cats make (nyaaaa). Lots of birds have names like you've mentioned (flycatcher, razorbeak, little blue penguin), so it matches with reality. I have to make up common names for animals that are only referred to as their scientific names and generally follow a similar pattern: swordtooth instead of Smilodon etc.
    cak85 likes this.
  6. cak85

    cak85 Scribe

    Yeah those are really good points. Thanks.

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