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Old 10-12-2015, 02:11 AM
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Default Question regarding fantasy character names


So I'm currently attempting to write a fantasy novel, and I find myself wondering about typical etiquette in naming fantasy characters. I know some writers will draw some certain languages, and just play around with them until the names become unique, but I've oft suspected a lot of times it's just random. I might be overthinking things (as I am wont to do), but would it matter much if the names for characters are, essentially, just random type sounds I come up with, with no (intended) basis in any language or meaning, or is there some type of expectation in fantasy circles that names be based on something or other? Will I be outed as some kind of fantasy novice if the characters have too-strange names, or does nobody really care?

(Part of this is me being kind of lazy and not really wanting to start researching any languages, and part of it is also that I want to make my world very much its own place, obviously not Earth, so I don't want to have any, like, Johns or Steves or anything, but I also don't want to be/feel beholden to any particular cultural influence, like it's not "Egypt culture with a dash of Roman and some pixie dust" it's just its own thing)

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Old 10-12-2015, 04:39 AM
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You're the writer, it's up to you. As long as the name is easy on the reader I don't think it will matter much. It's the character itself the reader will remember the name is just an arbitrary identifier.
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Old 10-12-2015, 10:44 AM
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What Daes13 said, but...

There is a reason why Professor Tolkien is so highly regarded, and it's because his material seems so vivid and real. And it seems so vivid and real because it is. Tolkien was a professor of ancient languages at Oxford University and he based his material on real, if little-known, myths and legends. And he based his languages on real languages, which is why a word in Tolkien's Elvish has such a characteristic sound.

If you go as far as Tolkien did and actually invent proper workable languages for your world, with their own characteristic lexicons and phonemes, then you'll get an authentic sound to your story that will definitely enhance it.

(There's a whole online subculture dedicated to this, by the way. It's called conlanging, from con-lang, constructed language; google it some time if you want to spend a fascinating and slightly bemused hour finding out exactly how much time some people seem to have on their hands. Many other worldbuilding topics have their own online subcultures as well, some of which are extremely useful to the fantasy writer ---- the Cartographer's Guild, for example, is highly recommended.)

However, if you're lazier than this but you want something more authentic than a bunch of English phonemes you've made up and stuck together, then you should consider getting a computer to help you.

Personally I've written a Python script which will generate an infinite number of words based on language definition files. When I want to generate a new language, I write some language definition files (6.3 kb, so they're tiny ---- very quick to write) and my script generates batches of 100 words at a time.

Do you have a way to run Python scripts? I'm very happy to share my code if you feel this will help.
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English is a strange language. It can be understood through tough thorough thought though.
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Old 10-12-2015, 02:04 PM
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You've got an awesome user name like Jinjonator and you're telling me you can't come up with names for your fantasy novel?

I don't believe it.
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