Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pitch Wars Lead-Up Week: Naming Neolithic Characters

When I decided to write a book set in the Neolithic period, I didn't realize that naming my characters would be so difficult. I mean, you can go the route that I've seen in other books and do names like He-Who-Walks-In-The-Garden, but I a.) wanted something a bit shorter and b.) wanted something a bit sneakier. You know, names I could fit hints and clues about the plot into. *cue evil writer laugh*

ETERNAL EMBRACE is set about 6,000 years ago in Europe. At that time there was a lot of symbolism in Neolithic settlements but not much in the way of writing. Stone carvings were fairly common, especially in religious contexts, but not of words. In fact, there doesn't seem to be much agreement on any particular Neolithic language. So, realistically, finding accurate character names would be close to impossible without a time machine.

I decided to settle for something that just sounded like it came from ancient times, but I didn't want to steal another language and have someone be upset that my characters lived in Europe but spoke Ancient Egyptian or similar. I also frankly had no idea where to begin making up my own, aside from the technique I mentioned in the first paragraph. However, there's the Basque language, only now spoken in parts of modern-day Spain and France. The tiny, meandering roots of Basque go way back to the Mesolithic.

I got really excited when I found this dictionary of a theoretical language called VCV (standing for Vowel-Consonant-Vowel), derived from the Basque language. Then I was really disappointed when further research proved this theory to be... unreliable. Whether it's accurate or not, using this dictionary did give me some pretty period-sounding character names, and I did get to hide some plot clues in them. Even if I'm the only person who knows what they are.

For example, the father of my main male character is named Esoha. The interpretation I chose for his name is "wise counselor," which is exactly what I wanted him to be.

Made-up names? Yes. Awesome names? Still also yes.

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