Words, Names, and New Languages

Working on Fight or Flight, I’ve realised that the smallest things can slow you down. Most notably, spellings. Now, I’m not talking about the spelling of English words, words that will be caught on a spell check. I’m talking about words that will always be highlighted by that squiggly red line because you made it up.

Some might think that these things come naturally, and in some ways, when you’re starting out, they do. You can play with a word and it’s arrangement until you’re happy with it. You can even go back later on and change that word with a simple ‘find and replace’. However, you can’t do that in a sequel, because all those words must match the ones before.

I’ve found that I’ve spent a lot of time going back and checking the spellings of words. I know the general gist, but with a new language, especially a rather consonant heavy language like Adtvenis, I sometimes have to go back and double check. Did ‘copaq’ end with a c or a q?  Because of this, I’ve now plastered the wall in front of my desk in postcards with words, factions, names, and even a mini map.

It also means that new words need to fit with the rest of the language I’ve created, even when we’re looking at smaller things like obscenities, or throw away comments.

Names have to fit as well, and I spent an entire train journey rearranging letters and scribbling out names. Despite a forty minute journey, I only came up with three names.

One of the comments about Dead and Buryd that both amuses and infuriates me is readers commenting negatively on my use of ‘normal names’. It infuriates me because, well, does it matter that I decided to use some more regular names? Yes, the Out or Orbit series is set on another planet in another universe, but they are still human as a race. The other reason it annoys me is because this comment regarding normal names is often in conjunction with ‘It’s frustrating that some are names normal and others aren’t’

This is the part that amuses me and, in turn, answers why I chose to do it this way. Every name given to a Veniche character in Out of Orbit is a human name. Yes, there a few slightly different spellings, there are a number of different origins to the names, from Indian, to Native American, to European and Western names, but every Veniche name in the novel can be found on name websites and baby books.

(Yes, I have spent an inordinate amount  of time buried in babynames.com – Sometimes I think people wonder if I’m pregnant from the amount of time I spend there.)

The only names that are invented belong to the Adveni. This is how I chose to separate the names. Adveni names and language would be alien to the reader, mainly because, yes, readers are supposed to feel more kinship to the Veniche.

So, yes, this amuses me because I am pretty sure that it is not only the Adveni names that some class as abnormal. I am sure that Ta-Dao, Vajra, and Nequiel were considered odd. Of those three, Ta-Dao is the only one that isn’t a direct copy. It began as Tadeo, which is Spanish.

Anyway, yes, it annoys me somewhat when people complain about the split between normal and abnormal names, because it was made very deliberately. I simply chose to be multicultural with my Veniche names.

NaNoWriMo word count on Fight or Flight currently stands at: 23, 925. Almost half way there for NaNo, and about a third there for the novel.

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About chelecooke

Self-Published author of the Out of Orbit series and the Teeth series. UCL Residence Assistant, obsessive cross stitcher, avid reader and TV show watcher.
This entry was posted in Fight or Flight, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Words, Names, and New Languages

  1. Dave S says:

    Hi Michele.. Dave here, sitting on the boat in Brentford.. don’t forget you can ‘Add to dictionary’ in most word processors, so you could add your new names and lose that squiggly red line, also get spell checking on the new names.. or am I missing something?

    • chelecooke says:

      Firstly, taunting about relaxing on an awesome boat during the work week is just mean. Secondly, you are absolutely right and not missing anything. I did consider doing that, and will probably take the time to add them all once NaNoWriMo is finished. With the first book, I didn’t want to do it in case I added the wrong spelling to the word processor since I was changing them back and forth a lot. Now, I think it’s time to lock them down.

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