Friday, June 22, 2007

Name of a Name of a Name

I was in high school and working on my first novel when my dad saw a baby name booklet in my room and had a minor heart attack. My mom, who is also a writer, laughed and told him he was not about to become a grandfather, it was for naming characters in my story.

I have never been great at coming up with either titles or names on my own. Right now I am really struggling with the name of the fictional country where the story I am writing is taking place. (The book itself is called The Legend of the Golden Gryphon which isn't terribly original either.) Thank God for Google... it turns out that several of the names I had so painstakingly thought up are actually in use by a role-playing game or are a brand of something. I did find a fantasy name generator on line that is pretty interesting, but I want a name that actually means something, not some random arrangement of consonants and vowels. I also want to avoid unintentionally swearing in another language.

Everything I think of sounds stupid, but I keep reminding myself that Narnia, Gondor and Rohan must have sounded stupid the first hundred times someone said them, too. I'm starting to think that, like Tolkein, I'll have to invent my own language just to come up with new names, but then I don't want things in my book to be too wierd or unfamiliar. I want the book to be comfortable and easy to slip into, like a favorite robe.

Actually at one point I had toyed with calling it Croatan (or some derivative) and having it be the place to which the Roanoke settlers disappeared, but abandoned that idea. Though, actually, it's not a bad concept now that I think of it again - what if the settlers had created an improved monarchy based on their English roots, rather than the representative republic we now have? But I can't call it Croatia, for example.

Anyhow, some of the names that are NOT taken are

Celadon (a lovely shade of light green), which could be transformed to Celadonia, although it sounds a lot like Caledonia which is a real place

(based on Mount Airy, New Jersey, get it?) which is also a postal district in Portugal but I don't think they'd mind

Halduran - which is composed of the Norweigan root "Hal" meaning rock and the Latin word "duran" (enduring), (which is similar to Aldaran, the planet Princess Leia lived on in Star Wars, probably based on the same linguistic roots - ironically the "enduring rock" was blown up by Darth Vader)

I really like the "enduring rock" idea, and thought of just calling it Duran or Durin, but then again Durin is the name of one of the Dwarf Kings in Middle Earth. Tolkein beat me to it. The balrog of Moria is referred to as "Durin's Bane". Duron is a brand of house paint.

See the problems I'm having here? Any ideas, people? Anything at all?

Now I know why Thomas the Tank Engine lives on the island of Sodor. I always thought that name sounded really stupid, but at least no one can confuse it with something else.

P.S. As I was composing this, I found a feminine name meaning "Rock" on a baby name website - Sela. So, I thought, what about Selador? Guess what, I googled the word and found a reference on Wikipedia to a famous interview with J.R.R. Tolkein discussing how the words "cellar door" could be transformed into a name - you guessed it, Selador. So everyone would think that I stole it from him!

Do you see the brick marks on my forehead? I'm beating it on a brick wall.

Time to go braid some yarn for dollhouse rugs. I need something mindless to do - I've had it for today. Maybe I could just call the place Dalharug and be done with it. Or better yet, how about Yarnia?

1 comment:

Christine H said...

I apologize to everyone who left such wonderful suggestions in the comments here. I had a problem editing something on the blog page and had to delete this post and re-enter it in order to fix the problem, which removed your comments.

I have finally decided... I think... to name my fictional country Hanoria. It is a little-known variation of the feminine name Honoria, meaning Honor. Unless I change my mind again.

For you P.G. Wodehouse fans out there... try not to think of Honoria Glossop, would you? I'm afraid I can't help myself, Jeeves.