Sunday, December 4, 2011

[World Design] Portmanteau, Literal, or Gibberish?

Televangelist, turducken, skyjack...
The Rocky Mountains, bluefish, White Sands...
Haagen Dazs, Cthulhu, Tarzan...


When you're naming something, there are three ways to go.
You can cram two existing words together to create a portmanteau word.
You can literally describe the thing you're naming, or at least an aspect of it.
You can make up gibberish.


I don't do gibberish, because it doesn't evoke anything in the players' minds unless you explain that "A'Sharz-go" means "Desert of Glass Shards" in the Hiza tongue, Hiza meaning "footsore wanderers", and so on. Tolkien was a philologist and beautifully realized invented languages were a big part (in fact the original impetus) of his legendarium. I, on the other hand, am not a philologist. It's really hard to do invented language right, so I stay away.

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