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Naming locations!

x.ore.cist

Acolyte
Hello, second post here lol.

So my story takes place within a small uninhabited caribbean island. And it is about the story if 3 unamed travelers which were stranded there after an attempted to reach  Japan from Europe, well before Christopher Columbus reached it, there they find an ancient stone with runic symbols over it. I'm just gonna say shorter the story and say, the figured out what the runes said and decided to recite the spell of some sorts, which opens up a gate to a different world. This world of mine has little development going for it so far and I need a little help figuring out the names for some places, I'd appreciate it people here could help.

Basically, there is this village, near the end of the cave that leads to this other world (I am not gonna reveal the name yet!) and it's very reminiscent of the towns you see in the early 1400's, with a central church of shorts and huts and sheds people live in and street shopers selling local fruit, vegetables and meats (which I'm gonna discuss later). Now this location if very important to the story as it is the location most of the people end up in after entering the cave, and I need a name for it that sounds almost like something out of a children's fairytale if that makes any sense. I've been trying for some time now and I cannot come up with anything decent. Does anyone here have ideas?
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
What have you tried so far? Because this is another world, pretty much anything goes, so it's hard to find a point even to begin. So I'll begin with a question ... ok, with two. I've already asked one.

Why a fairy tale? This is another world. Do you mean to connect it somehow with fairy tales?
 

x.ore.cist

Acolyte
What have you tried so far? Because this is another world, pretty much anything goes, so it's hard to find a point even to begin. So I'll begin with a question ... ok, with two. I've already asked one.

Why a fairy tale? This is another world. Do you mean to connect it somehow with fairy tales?
Yes actually, I plan this world to have various characters taken from fairytales and similar kind of folk stories!
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
OK, so in that case I'd start looking at names from fairy tales. In particular, browse through the fairy books by Andrew Lang (Red Fairy Book, Blue Fairy Book, etc). They can all be found through libraries or online. Lots and lots of names there. Look also at foreign-language fairy tales. You can do a search on "french fairy tales" or "german fairy tales" and so on. That will net (*ahem*) you tons of names. From there, just start shuffling letters and phonemes and you'll be awash in names.
 

x.ore.cist

Acolyte
OK, so in that case I'd start looking at names from fairy tales. In particular, browse through the fairy books by Andrew Lang (Red Fairy Book, Blue Fairy Book, etc). They can all be found through libraries or online. Lots and lots of names there. Look also at foreign-language fairy tales. You can do a search on "french fairy tales" or "german fairy tales" and so on. That will net (*ahem*) you tons of names. From there, just start shuffling letters and phonemes and you'll be awash in names.
Thank you so much for helping, I truly appreciate it!
 

Mad Swede

Maester
As I recall my grandmother and her stories, she never ever gave names to the places in the tales she told. Not in the fairy tales, not in the myths, not in the folk tales. That was part of her storytelling art, making it seem like the places in the tales could be just down the road. So I'm not sure there are any typical place names from children's fairy tales.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
I do believe you're right about place names. I was thinking more of character names, but of course that's not what was asked!
 
Traditional fairy tales don't include specific place names unless they're a reference to something that happened in a specific place. The Pied Piper of Hamlin, for instance. Hamlin (or Hameln) is an actual town in Germany, and there was an event there, around the thirteenth or fourteenth century, that gave rise to the story. Exactly what happened isn't known, there are no surviving written records of it, but there are stained glass windows in the church there that depict the piper, and there apparently was a rat problem.

There's also the occasional folk or fairy tale that takes place on the road to somewhere: on the road to Rome, or London, or the Grimm's fairy tale The Bremen Town Musicians, which doesn't take place in Bremen, it's about what happens on the way there. In those cases, the destination is rarely if ever reached, it's just a device to anchor the story somewhere. The story itself is simply about travelers, and for the purpose of the story, they could be any travelers anywhere.

It's modern fantasy stories that give names to made up places. Neverland, Oz, Narnia. I suppose you might also count Alice's Wonderland, although it's never outright called Wonderland in the book. The place she travels through isn't given a name.

Notably, none of those children's stories about named made up lands were written any earlier than the late nineteenth century. Children's literature is a relatively recent invention. Even the fairy tales you're thinking of, if you mean the older ones, were not originally designed for children in particular. Told to children, yes, but they were also for adults. There was no distinction.

If you're thinking more along the lines of Oz or Narnia or Neverland, that's a rather different definition of children's fairy tale.
 
Which 1400's are we looking at? Towns looked very different in western europe in the 1400's compared to China, the carribean, and south america. Even within europe there were pretty big differences.

As for names, what I do if I can't come up with something fitting is to pick a real-world culture to base my society on. Once I've got that I'll hop over to Google maps, and zoom in on the region where this culture is from. I'll go through the names I find and work from there. You'll either notice common parts of names or one will jump out at you. Either pick that or create variations based on that. If I'm basing it on a culture that no longer exists, then I'll either hop over to wikipedia for a list of place names, or google something like "[x] cities map" (like mayan cities map). Which gives lots of lovely options.

The reason this works is because it helps you create a setting without too many words. If I create a place named Arnford, then readers will expect something british. If I name it ArnHeim then people will thing more germanic, and if I go for Arn Itzá people will get Mezo-american vibes. All from a name.
 

Mad Swede

Maester
Whilst you can just look up some place on a map, it helps if you're aware of how place names form. At least in Swedish place names can be about
  • the appearance of a place (eg place names ending in old Norse rydh, in modern Swedish rud, ryd, red or röd, meaning a clearing or area of open ground),
  • how an area is delineated (eg place names ending in old Norse male, in modern Swedish måla, meaning an area which has been measured up and claimed), or
  • why an area was enclosed (eg place names ending in old Norse tun, in modern Swedish tun, tuna or ton, in modern Brittish English ton or town, meaning an enclosed area surrounding an important place or administrative centre).
When you combine place name elements like these with the names of people or the names of other geographical features you start to build the background details in your setting.
 
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