Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Planetary Romance: Some Short Word Lists...

Good Morning, All:

As an example of Planetary Romance world development, I have decided to follow my basic advice from my previous post and construct some words for the updated World of Samardan mini-setting I'm developing as an example of this genre. The following small word lists will prove useful in naming places, creatures and people, as well as add flavor and consistency to the setting.

Note On Pronunciation
Consonants are pronounced as they are in English. Vowels are pronounced as they are in Spanish, and are never doubled. (The words in parentheses below refer to the general shape/position of the mouth, tongue and lips, if it helps.)

a: as in "father" (open, central, not rounded)
e: as in "ten men" (open-mid, front, not rounded)
i: as in "ski" (close, front, not rounded)
o: as in "note" (close-mid, back, rounded or semi-rounded)
u: as in "truth" (close, back, rounded)

Body Parts, Monstrous
EnglishSamardan
claw, talonkun
fang, toothdant
featherresh
hair (pelt)kal
hoofpesun
hornkar
shelldafan
stingertanga
taillang
wingkrel

Creature Classes
EnglishSamardan
amphibianbarma
birdoneth
fishpesh
insectkit
mammalburun
reptilepacha

Colors
EnglishSamardan
colorhu
blackhel
bluesul
brownbur
gray, greydusar
greenaber
orange (color)jus
purplethul
redarun
whitezuwel
yellowpil

Natural World
EnglishSamardan
baywan
beach, shorekosh
cavenadra
cliffkif
cloudgayen
desertserer
earth (land, ground)dan
grasslands, plains, savannahkampos
fireagon
forestmader
hilldigara
islandjazira
laketal
lightningchana
moon (dancing twins)rasakamari
moon (general term)kamar
moon (red)arunkamar
moon (white)zuwelkamar
mountaingara
rainbarich
rivergwach
sea, oceanyam
skysama
snowhim
startar
stormjayu
sunsor
swamp, marshmer
thunderdon
valleybalem
volcanoagongara

Quantity/Size, Relative
EnglishSamardan
biggest, greatestgran
bigger, greaterbar
smaller, lessermal
smallest, leastdi
halfpal

Titles, Common
EnglishSamardan
low noblePansanu
medium nobleKoranu
high nobleDoganu
sovereignRajanu
member of martial peerage, knightJen
member of mystical peerage, sageSen

Whew! I suppose that looks like a lot of nonsense. Well, it does, until you use it. Here are some examples of how we can put these simple lists to use:

Place Names
Suppose I need to name a small fishing village known for the brilliant blue fish they catch off their coast. Instead of calling the village Bluefish, I can now name it Sulpesh. Because I know the root words, I have a clue as to something about the location, and once the players learn enough of the setting, they could, as well.

People Names
The name Cornelius means "horn sun," deriving from Latin cornu "horn" and Greek helios "sun". The same name in the World of Samardan would be Karsor.

Creature Names
Let's say that you wanted to use a wooly mammoth against your PCs, but didn't want to call it a wooly mammoth. Instead, we could use "greatest"+"pelt"+"fang"+"mammal" to get Grankaldantburun. Optionally, we could look up the meaning of the word mammoth, which apparently comes from Russian roots meaning "earth horn", and go with Dankar. Personally, I'm good with either Kaldant or Dankar, myself.

You can also use the "environment" descriptors to distinguish between two similar beasts that occupy different regions. The dankar of the plains, which is the smaller and less aggressive of the two (although that isn't saying much), would be the Kamposdankar, while the larger and more ferocious mountainous dankar would be better classified as the Garadankar.

All we need is a few more short word lists for some specific adjectives and such, and we'd have a pretty solid naming language (and no real need to move much beyond that.)

With Regards,
Flynn

3 comments:

Ben Shaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ambient Dust said...

Very interesting. I'm curious - did you simply invent the Samardan words on the fly in relation to English words, or is there a 'per-letter' translation from English to Samardan that you decided upon?

Flynn said...

Actually, I'll let you in on a dirty little secret. Most of the words for Samardan are taken from either Chinese, Hindi or Arabic (and sometimes Spanish or Russian), and then twisted ever so slightly for purposes of pronunciation. If I can't find a suitable word that works for me, then I look at the etymology of the word (i.e. what it means in its original language, or what root words it derives from), and twist that a little. If that doesn't work, then I simply choose a nice sounding substitute of the format CVC or CVCV. There are a few more rules that I use internally, but that's the core of it.

My reasons are two-fold: 1) in-game, it feeds into the backstory behind the World of Samardan; and 2) out-of-game, I wanted words that would trigger on some subconscious level a degree of recognition, that could be pronounced by the human tongue and which I could use to help me learn some basic words in various languages while disguising that effort as play. Okay, so that's more like four-fold, but you get the picture.

If you want a more in-depth discussion on the topic, I suppose I could make that my next post for the blog.

With Regards,
Flynn