Naming My Nonhumans

Discussion in 'SHH Community Forum' started by Victarion, May 12, 2013.

  1. Victarion Iron Captain

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    I'm back with another writing question. I've got these nonhuman races for my setting and I'd like to know if the names seem too...clichéd...or If they feel natural (in so much as "elf" or "dwarf" can feel natural in a fantasy setting).

    Evojur: They worship the concept of controlled change to maintain the flow of energy through the new world. The evojur arose from intelligent aquatic amphibians that swam through the primordial seas before the first landmasses appeared.

    Vaik: The vaik arose from the seahorse-like marine life around the same time as the evojur. Whereas the evojur devoted themselves to learning about their new world, the vaik were quick to test the dominant life forms in the new world. The vaik found these life forms--dragons--to be worthy of their admiration.

    Thus the vaik are seen by the evojur as a mad and backwards race. Dragons are born from aggregations of the world's natural energy. The vaik's admiration for these entropic enablers puts them at odds with the evojur. A famous vaik created the humanoids of the new world as a "take that" to the evojur. The humanoids were able to learn how to kill dragons, thus releasing massive bursts of natural energy that warped the landscape.

    The vaik's bodies are composed of natural elements--earthen soil, molten rock, water, and moss/fungi--surrounding their viscera. The general body shape is something like a seahorse.

    Tekujin (or Tekund?): The tengaki were created from the evojur, viashkai, and primordial humanoids that died during the viashkai's rebellion against the primordial dragons. The evojur managed to create a device that harnessed the energy released from the dragons' deaths as well as the casualties from the various races to create the tengaki. The tengaki harbor a hatred of the races and have sought isolation in the highest peaks. They grew into folk legends for the various races; they are used as boogeymen to keep the races' children from breaking their rules/customs.

    Sikuth is a legendary tekujin (or tekund) that gained access to the vaik's research facilities and use their knowledge of magic to imbue a few kirhouvaik with vaik-like powers. Sikuth termed these kirhouvaik "Sikhivaik."

    Kirvaikin: The first humanoids created by the vaik, imbued with the vaik's impulsiveness and a much shorter lifespan. The kirhouvaik eventually went through stages of evolution mirroring our own, eventually becoming homo sapiens. The superstitious humans view the Sikhivaik in the same way that religious folks view demons. The tekujin/tekund are seen as hellhounds, and Sikuth is seen as an analog to Shuck, or Cu Sith.

    So...thoughts or criticisms on how I can improve these?
     
    #1 Victarion, May 12, 2013
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  2. Thundercrack85 Registered

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    You know, this forum should have a creative writing thread.

    Aquatic amphibians is a little redundant.

    Sounds fine, otherwise. Evojur has a nice ring to it. The second one is a mouthful. Third one sounds vaguely Japanese.
     
  3. Pink Ranger The North Remembers

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    I'm not a big science fiction guy, but as a writer I've noticed you're running into a trap of making all your inventions follow the same pattern, which undermines credibility slightly.

    All three fictional races are trisyllabic, which emphasizes that they are inventions of the same person in an unflattering way. Try to make at least one of them a single syllable name.
     
  4. C. Lee Superherohype Administrator

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    I think that first, you should show us how you envision the names sound.

    For instance;

    Evojur...is it started like evolution.....or like the word emotion but with a "v" in place of the "m"?
     
  5. zeroapoc Eldritch Abomination

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    Don't fall into the sci-fi trap of having all members of a species have the same personality.

    You can't really describe the personality of humans because they're diverse. Other races should be the same.
     
  6. pr0xyt0xin Shaper Savant

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    Yeah, look at Gungans for an (albeit not great) example of this. They may talk similarly, but they are portrayed with drastically different personalities.

    So unless you're actually going for hive-mind or collective, diversify. Also alien races (in my opinion) would be extremely difficult to comprehend by humans. Everything from mannerisms, to languages (including body language). It wouldn't be quite so simple as having different words/alphabets for everything like Spanish vs French.

    I love my examples, so look at the "Darmok" episode of Star Trek Next Gen. The Tamarian language doesn't use words to describe specific things but entire phrases. Pretty interesting concept.
     
  7. Victarion Iron Captain

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    As far as culture goes, I'm going to look into the literature on the organisms that inspired by nonhumans. Then I'll use the real-world animals' behavior (territoriality, mating, foraging, hunting habits etc) as the framework for their societies.

    Evojur is stated like evolution with -jur (as in "jury") tacked on. Instead of Viashkai, what about Vaik (sounds like "vik" in "viking.")?
     
  8. Asteroid-Man Registered

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    I like Vaik way more than Viashkai. Maybe Viashkai could be an adjective meaning "of Vaik".
     
  9. Victarion Iron Captain

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    I've updated the OP with a brief description of the vaik. I might use Viashkai as the name for the vaik's home continent. How does Jurev sound for the evojur's native continent?
     
  10. Enriquespy Registered

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    Hit the letters at random. Dkjl

    Then, jut add vowels:

    Dekaji, loves decals.
     
  11. Victarion Iron Captain

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    We don't know where the gods originated from. It depends on what race you ask. The tricky thing is, many of the older races have died out. There are some faiths that believe the old races are not dead--rather they are in-hiding within the world around us.

    The Vaik believe that the cosmic anomalies known as Sarkaidrak pulled the world together from debris and matter scattered through space. Therefore, to the Vaik, the Sarkaidrak are the closest thing the world has to gods in the traditional sense. Vaik worship the gods by blending the art of organic and inorganic chemistry with fallout found in the lands where the Sarkudrak dwell. The Sarkudrak are the sauropods touched by the cosmic fallout of the Sarkaidrak. Vaik reverence of the Sarkudrak involves augmenting the soft Vaik body with the bones and hides of certain sauropods and avians in an attempt to ascend to Sarkudrak-hood.

    The Evojur emerged in the world before the Vaik; therefore the Evojur see themselves as gods charged with keeping libraries of knowledge about the world. The Evojur's widespread travels to gather knowledge are barbaric; their metabolism allows them to assimilate the thoughts hidden within the unused brain cells of the other races. Often, the Evojur would have to nurture their abducted wisefolk. The shared ability of the brain to purge the unused brain cells prompted the Evojur to engage in a series of experiments that ended with the discovery of what is commonly called magic.

    Thus, among mages, the seemingly barbaric Evojur are the gods of magic.

    Mankind's ancestors, the Kirvaikin are unaware of their creators, the Vaik. As they become more knowledgeable for their world, the Kirvaikin lands were visited by travelling Evojur. Legends began to emerge among the Kirvaikin about Evojur that would abduct the village wise folk and leave behind a reptile/amphibian progeny. According to Kirvaikin legend, these progeny could be returned to the ocean in exchange for the missing wise folk. That never happened; thus the Kirvaikin began looking for ways to journey into the oceans to find the changelings that they inadvertently set free.

    Certain Kirvaikin that did not revere the Evojur or the Vaik used the Kirvaikin's newly developed sea transport to found a nation of their own. Ancestoral reverence and an appreciation of the cycle of new life-death-rebirth-new life led them to develop an ability to speak with the spirits of their dead. The Kirvaikin on the mainland labeled them as Kirvaikundu. A third group splits off, made of humanoids from the Kirvaikin and Kirvaikundu: the Kithkir, who embrace a philosophy that is a synthesis of Kirvaikin and Kirvaikundu teachings and beliefs.

    Those changelings that the Kirvaikin dispose of will become the sea-serpent folk of the world. I haven't gotten their culture/name down just yet.

    So the pantheon is a bit ambiguous. According to the Law of Conservation of Mass, there must be something out there in my setting's universe. If any being had knowledge of that something, it would by the Sarkaidrak.
     
    #11 Victarion, May 26, 2013
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  12. The Question Objectivism doesn't work.

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    They're okay. They do sound a little fake-y, but then again any word your not familiar with can sound fake without a context.

    Tolkein rarely just made up words for fictional races and cultures. 99% of the names for peoples and places in Lord of the Rings have etymological roots in real world languages. The ones that didn't were supported by actual languages that Tolkein constructed, but even those languages are heavily based on real world languages (Elvish is very similar to French, Dwarvish is very similar to Hebrew with some Yiddish elements, the Black Speech is very similar to Romanian, etc.) The only major word in all of Middle Earth that's wholly fabricated is Hobbit. And even Hobbit is alliteratively and onomatopoetically tied to the word "Hole," and Hobbit Holes are a big part of their culture.

    Onomatopoeia is especially important if you're trying to make words from scratch. Certain sounds are instinctively tied to certain concepts in people's minds. In almost every language, the word for Mother starts with a "mah" sound and the word for father starts with a "pah" or "dah" sound. While obviously calling a seafaring or aquatic culture "Waterions" or "Oceanians" is way too on the nose, using those kinds of associated sounds will go a long way toward making wholly constructed words sound real.

    It's extra work, but playing with real world words tied to central concepts for these people and places, or trying to put together words that are alliteratively or onomatopoetically tied to central concepts with these people and places, would make the names sound a lot more natural.
     
    #12 The Question, May 26, 2013
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  13. Victarion Iron Captain

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    Thanks, Q, good advice on using onomatopoeia.

    Michael Moorcock did something similar in naming the elemental lords in his Elric novels. The elemental lord or lizards, for example, is named Haaashaastaak. The name sounds a bit like a lizard's hiss. Moorcock's literature led me to try to break from the traditional trappings of the genre, hence the madeup races. I'm taking more an epic sword and sorcery meets science fantasy (with a bit of immunology) approach than the linguistic approach Tolkien took. Those were his strengths, and I would be delusional to think I could surpass him in those respects.

    Let me throw out a name for a race: K'Chain Che'Malle. Thoughts on it? I'm not claiming this as one of my own; it belongs to another author.
     
  14. The Question Objectivism doesn't work.

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    I've also got a few questions about the story concepts:

    What exactly does that mean?

    How did they come to live by this philosophy?

    What form does their worship take? Are there regular religious services like church on Sunday? Are there household shrines?

    How do they practice their belief? What I mean is, how do they bring about this controlled change?

    How organized is their religion, and in what way is it organized? Is there a hierarchy of priests? Are there monastic orders? Is there a head of their church? If so, is it a single person or some kind of council? What is the relationship between their religion and their government or governments?

    Do they worship an anthropomorphized deity or deities, or do they venerate the abstract concept of controlled change?

    Is everyone in their society a practitioner of this religion? At what age are they brought into the faith? Are there separate denominations or conflicting interpretations of this belief system? Is there a sizable group of people with a different religious viewpoint, either members of an entirely different religion or general non believers, and what is their status in society?

    If their culture is that old, are they a single unified civilization, or have they grown and branched out over time? How many cities, countries, or administrating regions are there? Are they largely isolated in one area, or do they have population pockets spread out over a wide area in many different parts of the world?

    What form does their admiration take? Do they worship Dragons? If the Dragons have animal intelligence, have they domesticated them in some way? If the Dragons have human intelligence, do they have a political, military, or economic alliance with Dragons?

    What does this mean, exactly? How does this natural force produce dragons?

    If they admire Dragons, why would they want to kill them? And why do they need to create a proxy species to do it for them, why can't they do it themselves?

    Who are the Viashaki? And why were they rebelling against the Dragons?

    Why did the Evojur create a machine that creates undead monsters and is fueled by the souls of the damned? Was this intentional, or was the creation of the Tekujin and unintended effect of a device built to deal with the harmful energy Dragons emit?

    Why do the Tekujin hate the other races?

    What are the Kirhouvaik?

    What powers do the Vaik have?

    For what purpose did Sikuth create the Sikhivaik?

    What are the Sikhivaik like?

    Is their name Kirvaikin or Kirhouvaik?

    What is the difference between a demon and a hellhound?

    What are Shuck and Cu Sith?
     
    #14 The Question, May 26, 2013
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  15. The Question Objectivism doesn't work.

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    Haaashaastaak sounds like it's trying too hard, though. To me, anyway. Yeah, it sounds kind of like a Lizard's hiss, but it doesn't sound like the sound of a lizard's hiss that's then evolved into a word.

    Honestly, "Hashastak," just taking out the extra A's, sounds a lot more like a word while still evoking a lizard like feel.

    Anyway, as for Tolkein and your approach, it's not a bout surpassing anyone at anything. It's about certain approaches to naming fictional things make those names sound more natural than others. Starting from a real world etymological root is just generally useful.

    Without a concept I don't have much of an opinion on it. Except that putting apostrophes in made up words to make them sound foreign is a little cliche.
     
  16. Victarion Iron Captain

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    Shuck was taken straight from myth; he's the Black Dog that inspired the Grim from Hp and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I haven't got an underworld worked out; I'm wanting to sort of keep the pantheon ambiguous, if one even exists within my setting.

    The Evojur were confined to their own continent for a while. As in my first post of the day, they do take it upon themselves to travel the world, observing the changes and rise/falls of civilizations. The Evojur see themselves as their own gods.

    The Vaik's culture would seem hedonistic to our sensibilities. They believe that the individual is in control of its fate, and is free to do whatever it pleases; this also provides the Vaik with a crude justice system. If one Vaik were to commit murder against another Vaik, then a relative of the murdered Vaik is free to apprehend and punish the culprit as it choses.

    The Vaik see the dragons, or Sarkaidrak, as the ultimate embodiment of the philosophy I described in the above paragraph. They hunt Sarkaidrak to determine which of the Sarkaidrak are worthy of their praise. Once the Sarkaidrak that they have chosen to worship becomes complacent, or stagnate, the Vaik will murder it. Afterward, the Vaik will graft some of the Sarkaidrak's tissue onto the veins running into the Vaik's dewlap.

    To the Evojur, the violence and excess of the Vaik poses a threat to the world. They don't understand how a society like the Vaik could continue to exist. The trick is that not all Vaik are mindless hedonists; hence their society thrives.

    Viashkai were my old name for the Vaik.
     

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