( First off, thanks to: http://www.behindthename.com/
It's a fantastic site and tool for name etymology )
Aka the origin behind naming stuff
Name anthropology isn't terribly complex. It's a very simple branch of linguistics. In other words, it's just a tiny part of how we learned to talk and identify things.
Imagine 1 million years ago, a caveman was trying to tell his cave-wife that his friend did something super funny to a rodent. Well, he thought about his friend, described him as Hairy Wolf Man, and the name stuck. He's now Harry Woflmen. Now, Harry Wolfmen has a son born in the summer. So they call him Summer Wolfson. It continues from there. Names pretty much evolved from that. As our societies got complex, so did our names.
Name generators cannot give substance to your world, and enrich it's history. Infact name generators will create a handful of garbled names, a handful of unoriginal names, and a handful of names somewhere inbetween. Why takes that chance. The next thing you'll know characters from the same place will have weird names that sound nothing like they're from the same continent.
Most people's proper nouns in their game seem like slightly altered words and names to "force" a more fantasy setting. Honestly this doesn't seem like such a big deal. It's common in a lot of people's works. However taking the time to come up with more themed or structured names can really help people's heads hurt less when reading.
"Hey lets go to Baldur and find Jamuel, I hear him and Darmon are fighting. I think the strife between Pinoche and Dalli is getting to him."
Reading it can kinda make my head hurt, because I'm not sure if it's places or people they're talking about. Sometimes it just sounds like garbled speech in my head.
This tutorial will let you avoid gibberish sounding proper nounds. Perhaps even help you create more organized worlds and draw players deeper in by interesting sounding names.Part A (Yeah, time to Part A!)
So you need to name a place on the map. But what to name it? Baldenwurg, Santwen Valley, Sipsal Shire?
Names like Lionsgate, Thornspur, Salmontooth, Midbay, and The Logan Empire sound so much more appealing. Heck, if you look at a lot of naming concepts, you'll realize they're all significant. There are a lot of towns, cities and states named after people and already existing words. James Town -> James, New York -> Yorkshire, Butte Field -> General Butte, Las Vegas (The Meadows), and a number of places in the Americas are named after Native American words.
What I'm getting at is people don't just name places and things after sucking on crackers and putting marbles in their mouth. There's actually some thought involved. You wouldn't just name your kid Starrow would you? If you made your own town would you name it Sunside Valley, Monohalt City, Shireville, or Pervimwig Town. (Gnomes aren't allowed to name things!)
Naming places often requires a combination of adjectives or nouns. Some places actually translate to (Where the Birds Fly) or (Where Color Rains). Glassglaw could be a name. Halcyon could be a name. Redcopse, Sternwind, Wonderhill, Byelo Bog, Ba'alvale. All viable names.
Names also provide origins, organization, and background to places and people. James Wong is obviously an American/UK citizen whose grandparents probably immigrated from China. Hikari Morioka is likely a full blooded japanese. If you had someone born and raised in China whose ancestors and children never left and his name was Sam Bobbyson, it would be confusing and weird. So why would it make sense in your game?
Don't be afraid to spend 5 mins finding the right name. Eventually it'll become cakewalk.Part 1 (It comes after A)
Adding some name etymology to your game can take you far. But the most difficult task comes with naming people.
Some people have recieved the last name of their professions: "Smith, Tanner" or simple words "Brown, Green, Name-son." Thus last names like Magi or Gurdonson or even new prefixes like dau or master can help.
Let me throw you some more examples: Adolfrid is a name I concieved by combing germanic name etymologies for Wolf and Peace. It is currently the name I use for a ruler in my game. (Varied up to Adolfried)Tip:
Create very slight variances (usually shortened or slightly elongated via a vowel) to build up interesting, original names.
All the different languages create different sounds and levels of exoticism. Use them wisely and use regional origins to concieve names.
Example: The Western Empire is more like the germans, and the people of the Amber Sands are more like the Eastern Indians. Nilasitara vs Adolfrid. Lalita vs Siegram. The names display different origins to us, and maintain a certain sense of fantasy to them.Conclusion
Name etymology isn't hard. It enriches the world you've created, and even organizes it. You set a much deeper mood with names that sound like things are all related to the same or different countries.
Get creative with your names too. I've got a character named Warb whose full name is Warb Ringgur. I don't use the name much but it's fun. Some names may even forge themselves from a rich history of your world. The Kingdom of Atzul, named after the Atzul bird that inhabits the island. A boy named Sieg Frendau, a descendant of the 45 daughters of the Phren Queen.
Hope this makes sense, and happy naming!
This post has been edited by Titanhex: Sep 30 2010, 04:11 AM