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Using historical terms in a secondary world?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Talhaiarn, Jun 26, 2017.

  1. Talhaiarn

    Talhaiarn Dreamer

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    Hi everyone,

    One of the nations within my world has a late-Roman feel blended with medieval features.
    How do you feel about including terms such as Vicarius and Diocese for the governors and administrative areas of the Empire?


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  2. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    The only problem with both (vicar & diocese) is that the words have taken on an overtly religious administrative tone in modern usage.

    On the other hand, as continuations of older Roman (civil) administrative terms, both are entirely valid terms to use. They do lend that splash of romanitas, so I'd say go for it! It should be clear enough from context that these are civil terms.

    I'd only note that "vicarius" requires a primary title to make its sense complete. On its own, it means something like "vice-". So vice- . . . what? Vicar at least is already an English word & can easily be slid right in to the scheme.
     
  3. Viorp

    Viorp Minstrel

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    Why not invent your own terms based on that?
     
  4. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    I see no problem with using historical terms but you should perhaps give a thought to what reader expectations they create and pick a single historical culture/language and stick to that for this Roman-ish empire. If you for call your upper class patricians that will make readers make all manner of associations and connections for these guys, while refering to them as gentlemen will create and give other stuff.

    So in essence I want to say that there's no problem with including historical terms into the story, but you should probably try to keep them culturally consistent or ensure to explain to the reader why they are no culturally consistent. Like mixing patricians with knights or secular dioceses with fiefs.
     
  5. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Generally I would suggest using historical terms like that over inventing your own words for the simple reason that you don't need to explain to the reader what they mean. Naturally though that requires the reader to use the same definition for them that you plan on using, so, as Elemtilas said the religious connotations could cause problems even if the terms were not originally religious in and of themselves.
     
  6. Talhaiarn

    Talhaiarn Dreamer

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    Thanks for all the replies guys!
    I think I will use them and keep the Latin theme going.


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  7. Viorp

    Viorp Minstrel

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    Well, except most readers are also not familliar with the proper ussage of historical terms. So some explanation would still be needed.
     
  8. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    This is true --- but very many novels that are set in Roman times or in Asia or something will have a short glossary of key terms used in the book. Obvously, a term like vicarius would need some explaining! Something like "governor" or "emperor" would not!
     
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