15 Jan 2009 01:17 pm
kaigou: this is what I do, darling (W] organizing)
[personal profile] kaigou
I know a lot of fantasy writers like to make up names for stuff, and ignoring the fact that I could do without ever seeing another apostrophe in a name ever again, I sometimes think, man, but there's all this good stuff already out there that's absolutely wild to native-English speakers. I mean, just the names that already exist are exotic enough! The addresses alone make me just squee.

Tjärhovsgatan 8, Södermalm

Drottninggatan 74, Norrmalm

Gåsgränd 2, Gamla Stan

Riksjarlskap, Österlånggatan 5, Gamla Stan

Södersjukhuset, Södermalm

Skeppsbrokajen, Gamla Stan

Katarinakyrka, Kapellgränd, Södermalm

Nybrokajen 10, Östermalm

[to the Stockholm readers, yes, I'm almost positive there's no Nybrokajen 10, because that would put the address several meters into the Baltic Sea. It'll have to be a joke only ya'll get.]

Date: 15 Jan 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I used a lot of Latvian and Estonian words in The path novels for sound and for consistency. Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago someone noticed for the first time. It was seriously cool.

Date: 15 Jan 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ohhh, so that's what they were. I had noticed consistency in the anglicization, but wasn't sure of the origin. For some reason, I was thinking Peruvian, given the vowel-combinations. Very very cool that someone finally twigged on the proper origin!

Date: 15 Jan 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That almost makes me homesick. I loved the time in Stockholm.

I lived in (or on, since it's a hill) Lappskärsberget.

Sjukhuset is 'the hospital', btw. And a sjuksköterska is a nurse, which makes for a fun tongue twister: Sju sjösjuka sjuksköterskor skötar sju sjösjuka sjömen (seven seasick nurses care about seven seasick sailors)- sj, and sk before ö/ä but not o, are two different variants of sh.

Date: 15 Jan 2009 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yep, Södersjukhuset is the hospital in Söder -- so I didn't bother giving it an address since I figured it was like any other city -- "DC General" and there's no need to clarify further.

I liked Norrtelje well enough, but I absolutely loved Stockholm. Unfortunately, that whole being-dark-half-the-year (or at least far more dark than I could handle) kinda puts a damper on it for me. And, worse, the fact that even when it's mostly light, it's still too freaking cold for me. Anything below about 70F and I'm bundling up in multiple layers. Sigh.

But I still plan to visit again! Definitely. It's on my list, only this time I'll go for more than just a week in Stockholm. Two, minimum, if I can manage it.

Date: 15 Jan 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lol, I'm the opposite. Anything about 25°C is freaking HOT, and the -24°C we had a few days ago were just a nice change. For me, not the rest of the German people. :)

Date: 15 Jan 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The sjukhusets always come out as "sick-house" to me, so they remind me of defective architecture even if I know they are really hospitals.

But on the whole I get more fun than anything out of Scandinavian names. One summer, during my vacation, I slowly drove from Goteborg to Stockholm and I was going through all those towns that end in "koping", from Jonkoping to Norrkoping. You're supposed to pronounce "koping" as something like "chirping", so I always thought of these places as being full of birds. Most of them really were.

Date: 15 Jan 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Heh, never let an artist and a writer out loose in the wilds with a rental car for three days, or crazy things happen. My sister and I did all our navigation based on phonetics. "That town has an umlaut! Go that way!"

When we weren't laughing hysterically every time we saw a sign that said utfart, because yes, we are both secretly eight.

Date: 15 Jan 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
ext_141054: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
You'll have to set the next one in Wales. I look forward to seeing how people deal with someone from Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Date: 15 Jan 2009 09:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I'd probably stick with setting the story in Cardiff. EASY.

Date: 15 Jan 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Apostrophes in fantasy-names are terrible. I seriously need a really, very good reason to not just throw the book away, would that sort of name appear.

It is always so interesting for me as a non-English person to think about how Swedish words and names appear to foreigners. :)

(I personally think that streets such as "Old Dumbarton", "Troon Station", "Barrowland" and "Caldercuilt" as I saw in Glasgow, are absolutely pretty.)

Date: 15 Jan 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's the ö and the ä and the å and the ø -- we don't have anything like that in english. So cool! Extra little symbols and stuff! *cough* Sorry, suddenly geeking.

In New England, there are a lot of street names just as peculiar, one reason I always loved Providence, Rhode Island -- we had Whatcheer Street, for instance. Yes, "what cheer!" as in "what joyfulness!" And then there were the oddities, like the fact that Friendship Street, I think it's called, is one-way. Figure that one out.

It was especially fun for me, after so many years of living in a city where it's 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and A, B, C, D, E streets... with states-names being the diagonals. Sometimes you'd find a strange one, like Eye Street (for I street) but otherwise it's so boring. At least it's sensical -- I never did figure out the crazy-ass street naming patterns in many of the Western towns of Utah and Colorado and Wyoming. Bizarro.

But it just seems like a lot of the fantasy world aims for this quasi-quaintness in its street names, when the real world already has things just as exotic if you think about them the right way.

On the other hand, if you didn't know the city was Stockholm, would it seem just as odd to you to see the streets written in English as (frex): Goose Alley, Heaper's Alley, Garden's Cross-Alley, Ball House Patch, Salvius Alley, and Coin Street?

(There's apparently a map available that shows all of Stockholm's subway stops with the names translated into English -- when I rattled some of them off, my Swedish step-mother acted like I'd just grown a second head. She speaks fluent English and yet subway-stop names are the same regardless of language, so she'd never actually stopped to realize that Pig Field or whatever is, well, Pig Field. Heh.)

I mean, I like the names translated just as much, but then they become names and are recognizable. Treating them as distinct original units in their proper language keeps them as titles, rather than something to be dissected. If you get what I mean.

I'm still not sure about Riksjarlskap, though -- Riksjarl is an ancient term (and fits exactly my purposes) but I'm going on rudimentary modern grammar to add -skap to turn it into "stewardship", like from "minister" to "ministry" -- the person, versus the office. Any suggestions? Did I really miss the boat on that one, or is it fairly close to how to conjugate that noun-to-collective-noun change?

Date: 15 Jan 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
lolz @ Friendship Street being one-way. XD

I like translating Swedish names and places into English; everything sounds much more picturesque and cute when put into that perspective. As you said, they're just names when they're in Swedish to me, but interesting titles when in English. (The villages around my family home would become "Clay Valley", "Handicraft Village", "South Ridge", "Outer Village" and so on. Really simple names really; make me think of The Shire in Lord of the Rings. ;))

You know, when I read Riksjarlskap as an address I read it as Riksjarls-kap, kap being "cape" or "headland" or whatever. Adding skap to Riksjarl would become something like "stewardship" logically but when thinking about it, it doesn't sound quite right to me. (I took a look at Riksjarl in the Swedish Wikipedia and they used the word "Riksjarlaämbetet", "ämbete" being something like "office". That doesn't sound like a street name at all, though.)

Date: 15 Jan 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Riksjarl isn't a street, though, it's the office -- I wasn't that consistent on the addresses, since some are just addresses and three are office, church, and hospital.

But would Riksjarlaämbetet be the actual physical location? because the word I could really use is a version that's similar to "ministry" or "magistrature" -- which isn't just the Boss Guy (the steward or Riksjarl) but also his assistants, the office, the trappings, all that jazz. So in english you'd say, "the ministry" and mean the building and everyone in it, like the phrase "when the magistrate isn't happy, the magistrature isn't happy, either" -- where the second means "everyone who works for him/around him in the office." Make sense? Any ideas?

Date: 15 Jan 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ahh, I see.

Well, I can't say I'm quite sure because I don't think the word "ämbete" is used very much nowadays. When I hear the word I immediately think of someone holding a position, someone having an ämbete. Again, according to Wikipedia, the word can also mean a Public Authority. I'm not sure if the two meanings can be connected in the way you mean, nor can I really say if it could be a physical location. It would take someone with greater knowledge in the finer details of the Swedish language than me to answer that. ^^

Date: 15 Jan 2009 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'd ask the stepmother but then I'd get grilled for twenty minutes while also getting lectured in what it is in French and German as well. GUH.

Sounds like ämbete would mean that Riksjarl = person, while Riksjarlämbete = position. That makes sense, becase ämbetsman = official, according to my handy modern dictionary. Hrm. Also, statsråd is translated as both 'ministry' and 'minister' -- perhaps Swedish is a language for which the noun can be both singular and collective? In other words, would someone say "Riksdrots/Riksjarl" and mean the acting judiciar and in a different context use the same word to indicate "the office/position of the judiciar" as well?

Date: 15 Jan 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The thing that drives me wild is alternate spellings that are obscure and weird for common names with simple pronunciation. I'd really like to see them rendered in easier-to-parse/read forms. Being clever with spellings frequently seems like the author is just being self-indulgently cute.

Date: 15 Jan 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
AHAHAHAHA. If I never ever have to see "kafe" or "klaf" or "kofe" for COFFEE -- or "tai" or "tei" or "khai" or "chai" for TEA -- I could live the rest of my life happy. It's freaking COFFEE, people, just CALL IT COFFEE.

It's when you start getting into excessive italicizations that my eyeballs really start to bleed, though in this case I mean for foreign terms. I've seen it done just about any way possibly imaginable -- italicize only the non-english words, italicize only the uncommon non-english words, italicize only the non-loanwords -- so for the first, futon would be italicized but the second two versions wouldn't... and so on.

What I finally figured out after so many multicultural works is that italicizing is, simply, emphasis. And when we know a word in our own language (even if it's unfamiliar to the reader), we're not going to say it with any additional emphasis. We know that's a getabako, that's what we call it, but to call it a shoe-cabinet would be unfamiliar -- so the second (even though it's in english) is italicized, and the first isn't. Given that so often I write stories where characters are not native-english speakers (and for that matter, stories that aren't even set in the US/UK), the foreign terms aren't... foreign. I only italicize when they're using a word that's foreign to them -- because they're going to emphasize the pronunciation with a similar inflection to emphasizing something in their own language that has high-importance. Make sense?

Plus, it's a lot easier to read on the page, and a helluva lot less hassle for format.

Date: 15 Jan 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
annotated_em: a branch of a Japanese maple, with bright red leaves (Default)
From: [personal profile] annotated_em
*thoughtful* Someone on my flist once proposed that henceforth, all apostrophes existing in fantasy names would be pronounced "sha-BOING" or similar, which has rendered me incapable of taking such things seriously ever again. Or, you know, ever going back and rereading the Pern books (not that I would, but you catch my drift, yes?).

Date: 15 Jan 2009 10:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ah, yes, the Pern books, bastions of what I personally consider a kind of frontal assault on any authors who'd ever like to use Bantu languages in their work. I think it's Bantu (could be wrong, in which case it's another major African linguistic group) that has this bizarre kind of glottal-stop 'click' in certain words. It's not a phonetic sound but a specific kind of non-sound, and it gets represented with ' -- I only vaguely recall the linguistic explanation now, but I first heard about it, incidentally, when fussing about overuse of apostrophes (go figure).

The linguist-friend was explaining that in certain anglicizations, you could have a word like, oh, Addaat and that's entirely different from Ad'da'at, that kind of thing. That when the language was first transliterated, that was the system, and it's stuck, and there you go... which means you could have a name that's genuinely anglicized as Ma'ra and it's not just parents being fanciful or trendy.

(And that in fact that's the origin of the trendiness of naming children M'shelle and whatnot.)

Although to be honest, the hardest linguistic thing in the current WiP was actually trying to track down a common surname from the northwestern areas of Mozambique -- the naming patterns depending on clan and ancestry are complex. Honestly, "Pedersdottir" is just so much easier! Cripes. I found a placeholder, but I'm holding out hopes that I meet/find someone who can tell me what's the Mozambique version of "Smith". Eventually, I'll figure it out. More research!



Date: 16 Jan 2009 12:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Try Armenian. Or Georgian. I haven't exhausted the naming resources from those two sources, even after using them (in slightly modified form) in two novel projects, and they still sound as nice as I first came across them.

Date: 17 Jan 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'll keep those in mind -- I think I've perused Georgian before. The one time it does start to get difficult is in the anglicization, because most dictionaries use (of course) the spelling for the original language. Trying to convert, say, slavic languages into english-alphabet is a nightmare, sometimes, especially when I don't know the original language that well.

This particular case (with addresses) it's easier, because they do actually exist. It's when I get into Icelandic and Faroese terms -- which use some really peculiar phonemes we don't have in English -- that things get dicey, and I have to do substitutions, like 'th' for þ or ð and mind when it's better transliterated as 'f' -- because it's damn hard to read something you can't spell out on at least a best-guess level. (See post about OMG, yo.)

Date: 17 Jan 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's much better than the subdivison developer in one of the Dallas suburbs that apparently ran short of inspiration for street naming, and came up with "La Manga Drive" (the sleeve), "El Pastel" (the cake), "Alto Caro" (high expensive), "La Cabeza" (the head) and "La Bolsa" (the bag). But at least those names aren't forgettable, meaningless pretty names most suburbs have, such as "Heatherwood Drive" and "Mistywood Lane"- out on the flat North Texas prairie.

Date: 17 Jan 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We used to joke in Northern Virginia that the developers would cut down all the trees and then name the streets after those trees. Except that it wasn't so funny because that's exactly what the developers did.

I lived in one neighborhood where the developer was obviously a Lone Ranger fan -- we had Cavendish Drive, Stirrup Lane, and a few others I can't recall right now that (I later learned) may have been references to the actors who played on the television version.

I'll never forget living on Pioneer Ridge, though... in a state where there had never been, and would never be, pioneers: the tidewaters of Viginia. Someone was really scraping the bottom of the barrel with that one.


kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
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