Commentary, Three Arrivals No. 6

And that’s all we’re going to see of Anja until the end of this chapter (and therefore the end of August). Next week we’ll see what’s up with the nighttime visitor from Three Arrivals No. 1.

Last time I talked about names. Since I’m a sucker for symmetry I think today I’ll ramble for a bit about the language. The human language of Lägraltvärld as rendered here (largely in place names) is a combination of vocabulary from Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian, made-up words, and roughly English grammar, with no real rules governing how I put them together. Since fiat isn’t a particularly realistic[1] way for a language to develop, early on in the conception of this world I made the decision that what you see in terms of native words is not at all what you get—that is, what you see is similar to what’s actually there only in that it ought to evoke the same sort of feeling.

As a prosaic example, consider “Grevdarsdottir”—even without having any idea that patronyms are a feature of human names, you probably puzzled it out pretty quick. If I had done something fancier I would have had to explain it at some point, and too much of that sort of thing gets in the way of narrative flow[3].

Thinking about it, I suppose this implies that everything is translated to some degree or another, including given names. That’s probably not a bad thing, actually, since it saves me from having to answer questions about why people are named Mikel, from the Hebrew for “Who is like God?”.

[1] Unaccountably[2], you’ll see me using this word a lot.
[2] Actually, Poul Anderson thought that, even in fantasy a lot more fantastic than mine, it wasn’t a bad idea to get the background right[4].
[3] I don’t think I have a particularly good sense for this, so every bit of help counts.
[4] This is a double-nested footnote. Also, I don’t particularly like how bold it makes links.

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