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Using real world weapon names

Discussion in 'World Building' started by JamesTFHS, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    It might feel out of place then, yes.
  2. Sounds like you are doing something highly stylized here, so from an outside perspective it's hard to say what fits your concept and what doesn't.

    Realistically, though, if there is no Japan in your world, then the should be no katana either. What there might is is swords that resemble the katana due to having been developed in similar circumstances. So, you would describe it as a katana but not call it that.

    Anyway, old-timey people didn't actually give their swords fancy special designations or even categorize different swords much at all - for the most part, a sword was just a sword.

    I vehemently disagree - the WoT swords are not katana. This is absolutely not a katana.

    A katana is a very specific kind of sword - you can't just say "every two-handed saber is essentially a katana," just because it looks similar and does the same thing. Or rather, you can't use "katana" as the default.

    Example: Would you call this sword or this sword a "katana"?

    If you do, you are wrong, because they are both late period Chinese dao that have little or nothing at all to do with Japanese swords.

    Likewise, this is a European kriegsmesser, and this is a Burmese dha.

    You kinda need to take the context into consideration, is what I'm basically saying. So, calling the WoT heron swords "katana" doesn't really make sense.

    This, pretty much.

    This as well.

    Actually, if you say it's a curved, two-handed and deadly sharp sword, most people will think "katana" anyway. If you want to be really sure they get it, just mentioned the beautiful wave pattern on the edge at some point, or research traditional Japanese sword care and have your characters do the same thing.

    Personally, I think I would find having "Look! It's a katana!" showed in my face would just be kinda annoying. Especially since the type of sword probably isn't important to begin with - we are basically talking about fluff here, details we put into our stories because we think they are cool and not because they matter to the plot.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2012
  3. Not necessarily. A different sword would be fought with slightly differently. For example, Greatswords. You can't use a Greatsword the same way you would a Longsword or an Arming Sword or a Shortsword. Greatswords were historically used very similarly to a pole-arm, you wouldn't swing it, you would jab with it. They were also built differently then other swords, being WAY longer and thinner. Plus, some readers would want to know what kind of sword it was, especially detail oriented ones such as myself.
  4. Za'dok Khoal

    Za'dok Khoal Dreamer

    I think this is more subjective to the writer and their preferences. I haven't run into this one yet, but, myself I have a love of designing the weapons, swords, armor and such that I like to name them as my own. If you are straight up using a katana or arming sword I guess using those names would be ok. Then again, personally if I were reading a fantasy story that took place in a far off land (not Earth) and all the sudden a katana was in the mix, idk, it may distract me from the story. Call it a weakness, but I read fiction most of the time to escape, our world, get a reprieve, I don't think it would work for me. Then again, if the story is well written and it doesn't detract, I may not even notice.
  5. S J Lee

    S J Lee Sage

    If you have a lot of detailed combat and clever moves, it matters whether it is a longsword or a shortsword. Me, I would avoid "gladius" in Ye Faux-Medieval-Fantasy-World. I would avoid "sax". I would avoid "katana". I go for "English" words because their "Common" is basically "English". I avoid "falchion" and "glaive" because they can be generic words, OR specific weapons, and I have no narrator to explain it. Sorry, no idea what to do if you NEED an EXACT copy of a katana. Just remember that samurai doing real fighting on the battlefield before 1600 didn't rate them all that highly, they were more of a back-up weapon...?

    I think Tolkien used falchion and brand to mean more or less any sword, and it did not matter much because precise sword-fighting was not what he wanted to put in his book.....
    But I have bills and ... one nobleman likes a RAPIER! Now I am looking at it again....
  6. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

    Personally, I think using real world names for weapons is okay . After all, if your world has cars, airships and horses you'd still call them cars, airships and horses. I see no reason why weapons should be any different.


    When you're describing a particular type or brand of weapon this may not work so well. A katana is a particular type of sword traditionally reserved for a samurai warrior. While a character having a katana in a pseudo-feudal east Asian society would be acceptable (if not necessarily historically accurate) for most readers they would be very unforgiving if a katana appears in a pseudo-medieval European society unless there's a logical reason for it, such as the katana being a gift or the character has come from a non-European society. Likewise, a cutlass is associated with piracy so a reader is unlikely to react favorably to a highwayman hiding in an English forest having a cutlass unless s/he's a former pirate.

    In short, let the context of the story and the setting determine if using real world names for weapons is appropriate or not.
    Nighty_Knight likes this.
  7. S J Lee

    S J Lee Sage

    It occurs to me that GRR Martin was right to use the word "arakh" and not "khopesh" or "sabre" ... he had to describe them at first, of course, but I think that is ok because they reappear multiple times in the story....

    HOWEVER when I saw the TV series I was disappointed somehow... the Dothraki on TV were using some sort of sickle? Bah humbug!
  8. Sunny dewbae

    Sunny dewbae Dreamer

    I do not think it is a issue. I would probably try to use other Japanese style swords that are less known like a odachi, tachi
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.

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