Monday, December 28, 2015

Does Ancient Elven Have Glottal Stops?

With the new campaign starting up, I've been trying to add to the Celtic/Viking ambiance of my game and its world.  Campaign I took place in a more cosmopolitan age, when many cultures had already made their way to the Isle and intermingled. Its feel (intentionally or not) was similar to that of most D&D games' default setting.

With Campaign II, I have made a more conscious effort in terms of cultural and linguistic flavoring. To wit, I've created some new settlements in the north of Evenoria and have renamed (or secondarily-named) others using certain language guidelines. So far those guidelines include:

  • using transliterated Irish for the Midlander (native human Evenorian) names of people and places, often with an English "translation" of the name as well (e.g., "Ravensport" and "Cuan Eandubh" being two names for the same city)
  • using transliterated Icelandic and Old Norse for Northlander people and places
  • using transliterated Welsh for elven, annwynn, and other fey beings and places
  • giving places two (or more) names if they are home to or recognized by more than one culture
By "transliterated," I simply mean spelling the names so as to be pronounceable by modern American English speakers, shifting the occasional vowel or consonant as needed. I've no illusions that my names have any kind of legitimate or correct meanings or pronunciations! Although I've perused the Poetic and Prose Eddas as well, most of my "research" has simply been done via Google Translate

If anyone out there would care to comment, I'd love to know you go about creating place names in your campaign world. Or do you even think about the logic behind such things, instead just picking out names that sound cool?


  1. I never had the fortitude to jump down Tolkien's linguistic hole, but I'm happy for you and others to make life more interesting for me! I like the path you're on. If I come up with anything on my own, you'll be the first to know. Well, after Marsha. And maybe Mike. And I may run it by Brenda A. since she's got her head firmly inserted in this world.

    1. Ha! Thanks, Ross. I probably wouldn't have gone as deep, linguistically-speaking, had I not married a Doctor of Linguistics. :-) Many of our dinner table conversations already end up in that neck of the woods anyway.

  2. Any attempt at making Welsh-ish modifications to city names is gonna sound fun. If there are remote south western islands, will you "go Hawaiian"? ;-)


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