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 Post subject: Naming a Fantasy World
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:09 pm 
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I need to come up with a name for the fantasy world on which the realms of Haethion (the realm that speaks the Haethic language family) and Oquivion (the realm that speaks a lot of language families) are found. While the names for the realms were made up easily, as they are simple modifications of the English words "aether" and "oblivion", I don't have a good standpoint on naming the world these realms rest on. Any tips or name ideas? I am all ears.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:42 pm 
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I'm a little disappointed more fantasy writers don't follow Tolkien's lead and call their world "earth." More proper names always strike me as being in contrast to something else (like Dragon Age's Thedas or The Elder Scrolls' Nirn*, for example), which isn't exactly a concept that would be familiar to a technologically/sociologically medieval people.

*But TES has the justification that there are other worlds and people are aware of their existence, and all of these worlds exist within Mundus, Latin for "world" but in this case better translated as "universe."

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:03 pm 
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Zaarin wrote:
I'm a little disappointed more fantasy writers don't follow Tolkien's lead and call their world "earth." More proper names always strike me as being in contrast to something else (like Dragon Age's Thedas or The Elder Scrolls' Nirn*, for example), which isn't exactly a concept that would be familiar to a technologically/sociologically medieval people.

*But TES has the justification that there are other worlds and people are aware of their existence, and all of these worlds exist within Mundus, Latin for "world" but in this case better translated as "universe."


A good point, but if everybody called their fantasy world earth, fantasy fans would have some trouble remembering which earth they're talking about.

Just imagine a fantasy club and everybody is like "Okay so are we talking about the earth from this series or the one from that series? Or maybe was it that other series? Or that other other series?" etc.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:15 pm 
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snappdragon wrote:
Zaarin wrote:
I'm a little disappointed more fantasy writers don't follow Tolkien's lead and call their world "earth." More proper names always strike me as being in contrast to something else (like Dragon Age's Thedas or The Elder Scrolls' Nirn*, for example), which isn't exactly a concept that would be familiar to a technologically/sociologically medieval people.

*But TES has the justification that there are other worlds and people are aware of their existence, and all of these worlds exist within Mundus, Latin for "world" but in this case better translated as "universe."


A good point, but if everybody called their fantasy world earth, fantasy fans would have some trouble remembering which earth they're talking about.

Just imagine a fantasy club and everybody is like "Okay so are we talking about the earth from this series or the one from that series? Or maybe was it that other series? Or that other other series?" etc.

To be fair, every sci-fi series set in our universe has the same problem: just look at any Wikipedia page on celestial objects in fiction.

Failing that, however, I suppose you could pick a language from your world and take their word for "earth" from it.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:50 pm 
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Borrow real naming customs (not all languages have earth > Earth though) and translate it into a conlang. Maybe a word for earth and the name of the planet are separate, but etymologically the second derives from the first.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:29 pm 
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mèþru wrote:
Borrow real naming customs (not all languages have earth > Earth though) and translate it into a conlang. Maybe a word for earth and the name of the planet are separate, but etymologically the second derives from the first.

Zaarin wrote:
To be fair, every sci-fi series set in our universe has the same problem: just look at any Wikipedia page on celestial objects in fiction.

Failing that, however, I suppose you could pick a language from your world and take their word for "earth" from it.


That is a good point, mèþru. Also a good idea, Zaarin.

Following vuestro advice (I used the Spanish plural informal you possessive here), Proto-Haethic's word for the planet they live on is simply plëtame, ë being a long vowel, and the final e marking a noun class that is semantically assigned to concrete nouns. Before you ask, I made all of the words by slapping together and tweaking different words from the etymologies in The Conlanger's Lexipedia. Not very reliable, as some don't have good bits of similar and etymologically related words. That is when I use gen. Or try and make my extremely non-creative brain come up with one. But back to the point, what can I etymologically derive from this?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 9:11 pm 
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There are many ways to name the world: some come from words meaning "dirt, ground" (such as English earth or Latin terra), or "land" (vs. sea or air--I believe this is the case in Haida, where Xaayda Gwaay means something to the effect of "where the three worlds [land, air, sky] meet"), or "what is seen" (offhand, I believe this is the etymology in Northwest Semitic), or even "what is" (viz., Quenya ). Other possibilities: "order" (e.g., Greek κοσμος) in opposition to primordial chaos (a common theme in Mediterranean mythology), "under heaven" (Chinese tiānxià [noting that this was a Chinese term for China, but the premise is sound], the stock Biblical phrase "under the sun"), and even concepts borrowed from time (e.g., world: "age of man," or the usage of age to refer to places in Myst).

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:44 am 
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Generally speaking, thinking of the naming conventions your conlang already has is a good start. For instance, my Ayakadiya speakers (aya) enjoy naming customs that are effectively whole sentences or phrases (if short ones) smooshed into one word. Their word for 'world' is mašaaḥkaana, which literally translates to "It is all of the notes." (Song and musical notes are considered to be the basic building blocks of physics.)

If you don't already have an idea of your naming conventions, Zaarin has an excellent overview that I doubt I can improve on.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:34 am 
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What you call your world / universe as a "brand" can be different from what the inhabitants call it.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:50 am 
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Examining the evolution of ethnonyms, political labels and other such names show that most literate humans are fundamentally incapable of understanding having more than one name for something.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 1:25 pm 
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The ancient Germanic people called the world they lived in the "Middle Homestead" (Old Norse Miðgarðr, Old English Middangeard).

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:23 pm 
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snappdragon wrote:
Zaarin wrote:
I'm a little disappointed more fantasy writers don't follow Tolkien's lead and call their world "earth." More proper names always strike me as being in contrast to something else (like Dragon Age's Thedas or The Elder Scrolls' Nirn*, for example), which isn't exactly a concept that would be familiar to a technologically/sociologically medieval people.

*But TES has the justification that there are other worlds and people are aware of their existence, and all of these worlds exist within Mundus, Latin for "world" but in this case better translated as "universe."


A good point, but if everybody called their fantasy world earth, fantasy fans would have some trouble remembering which earth they're talking about.

Just imagine a fantasy club and everybody is like "Okay so are we talking about the earth from this series or the one from that series? Or maybe was it that other series? Or that other other series?" etc.


Lots of fantasy series do just that. Just going by the example of the biggest epic fantasies of the 1990s and 2000s respectively: The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire don't name their worlds (maybe it's mentioned somewhere in a tie-in document somewhere, but not prominently, certainly). Iirc WOT doesn't even name its main continent (which fans used to call 'Randland' after the protagonist), although ASOIAF does ("Westeros"). Going to the biggest epic fantasy of the 1980s... I don't think the Belgariad/Mallorean name their world either, though they might name the continents. And for the biggest epic fantasies of the 1970s: I don't think think either the Covenant novels or the Shannara novels name their worlds either. [It seems like Covenant does at first, but iirc it later becomes clear that "The Land" is only the main area of events, and that when they go abroad they leave the Land].
And one of the two biggest series of the 1950s: I don't think the Narnia novels ever name their world either (again, Narnia is just the first country they discover, not the world).
And in the biggest of all: I'm not sure either The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings ever names their world, and most people don't know the name. Again, Middle-earth (which is just an old English word for the earth) is a continent, not the world (which is Ambar, the planet, or Arda, the solar system, or Ea, the universe).

And my favourite epic fantasies, the works of Robin Hobb, don't name their worlds either.

On the other hand, there are fantasy works that named their works. Earthsea, I think, is called Earthsea - I don't know why.. Pern is called Pern, probably because McCaffrey came from a SF background rather than fantasy (the in-world etymology: parallel earth, resources negligible).

The D&D tie-in novels do name their worlds, and so do Feist's works. These RPG-based stories have to name their worlds because they exist within metaverses in which inter-world travel is possible. Midkemia is Midkemia, for instance, to distinguish it from Kelewan (for the readers at least, if not for the inhabitants). Likewise, Krynn and Abeir-Toril need those names so that the pilots of the spelljammers know which crystal sphere is which, and so the guys in Sigil can put signs next to the portals.


[I'm not actually sure if Discworld is called Discworld in-world. The inhabitants I think may just call it 'the Disc', because it's a disc (like 'the Globe').]

i think that outside the RPG tradition, naming the world is probably less common than not naming it.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:59 pm 
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Salmoneus wrote:
Earthsea, I think, is called Earthsea - I don't know why..

Given Ursula K. Le Guin's anthropological background, I would guess Earthsea is intended as a calque, as it's not really a strange term for the world as the idea of including "everything" and is actually quite similar to the etymology of Xaayda Gwaay or tianxian. (NB: I haven't read Earthsea; despite as a genre preferring fantasy to sci-fi, I prefer Le Guin's Hainish Cycle to her other works.)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:26 pm 
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In the advice of Zaarin, I could just name the world Pletam and it'd be over. Or I could stress my brain and come up with something else. Thoughts?

And sanskacharu, it would be a good idea to come up with some naming conventions. If it weren't for the fact that this is a proto language and they probably wouldn't have that.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:03 pm 
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snappdragon wrote:
And sanskacharu, it would be a good idea to come up with some naming conventions. If it weren't for the fact that this is a proto language and they probably wouldn't have that.

Not necessarily: several cognate place names show up across the Indo-European world, for example variations of Burgundy/Brigantia* ("the high one"), Druantia, Danube/Don, etc.

*In my a posteriori IE language, this yields Barintī, the name of real-world Mount Pico.

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Last edited by Zaarin on Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:42 am 
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snappdragon wrote:
And sanskacharu, it would be a good idea to come up with some naming conventions. If it weren't for the fact that this is a proto language and they probably wouldn't have that.


A proto-language is still a full language spoken and used by a group of people, and I don't know of any group that does not have naming conventions. Of course, if you're not intending the proto-language to be used as anything but a derivational tool for the daughters, not deciding on any convention is fine. I just cannot imagine that there wouldn't be any conventions, only on the reason of it being a proto-language.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:48 am 
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sanskacharu wrote:
snappdragon wrote:
And sanskacharu, it would be a good idea to come up with some naming conventions. If it weren't for the fact that this is a proto language and they probably wouldn't have that.


A proto-language is still a full language spoken and used by a group of people, and I don't know of any group that does not have naming conventions. Of course, if you're not intending the proto-language to be used as anything but a derivational tool for the daughters, not deciding on any convention is fine. I just cannot imagine that there wouldn't be any conventions, only on the reason of it being a proto-language.


You make a valid point, but that's partly where history restricts us: the Proto-Indo-Europeans may have had a name for themselves, but we'll never know since we can't reconstruct any, and there's always the chance that they never referred to/thought of themselves or their language as a single entity.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:07 pm 
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Frislander wrote:
sanskacharu wrote:
snappdragon wrote:
And sanskacharu, it would be a good idea to come up with some naming conventions. If it weren't for the fact that this is a proto language and they probably wouldn't have that.


A proto-language is still a full language spoken and used by a group of people, and I don't know of any group that does not have naming conventions. Of course, if you're not intending the proto-language to be used as anything but a derivational tool for the daughters, not deciding on any convention is fine. I just cannot imagine that there wouldn't be any conventions, only on the reason of it being a proto-language.


You make a valid point, but that's partly where history restricts us: the Proto-Indo-Europeans may have had a name for themselves, but we'll never know since we can't reconstruct any, and there's always the chance that they never referred to/thought of themselves or their language as a single entity.


To be sure. I just don't find the argument of "no naming convention because proto-language" to be convincing on its own, without any other factors or context. That is what I was attempting to convey.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:52 pm 
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snappdragon wrote:
I need to come up with a name for the fantasy world on which the realms of Haethion (the realm that speaks the Haethic language family) and Oquivion (the realm that speaks a lot of language families) are found. While the names for the realms were made up easily, as they are simple modifications of the English words "aether" and "oblivion", I don't have a good standpoint on naming the world these realms rest on. Any tips or name ideas? I am all ears.


I've never really "formally" named mine. It was named The World for me by someone else, but I never came up with anything catchier or brandtrendier than that for my own part.

In world, what people call the place will depend on what they know about the cosmos around them and what register they're using. Philosophers call the planet itself various names, typically Gea or Tallun or Kiyo. Earth as lands and seas, they might call ecumene or Midworld. The whole universe or cosm is usually called All That Is. Ordinary folks don't often talk about Gea the planet, but might speak of kergalleia, all the lands around or of a region. Philosophers also use kergalleia to mean landrealm or continent.

If you need a name, perhaps find out what the folks of Haethion and Oquivion (I like those names, by the way!) call it and use that?

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:58 am 
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Zaarin wrote:
I'm a little disappointed more fantasy writers don't follow Tolkien's lead and call their world "earth." More proper names always strike me as being in contrast to something else (like Dragon Age's Thedas or The Elder Scrolls' Nirn*, for example), which isn't exactly a concept that would be familiar to a technologically/sociologically medieval people.

*But TES has the justification that there are other worlds and people are aware of their existence, and all of these worlds exist within Mundus, Latin for "world" but in this case better translated as "universe."


Middle-earth does imply a contrast to the others earths/worlds which aren't "middle".

The problems with just using "the Earth" or "the world" can be got around by using the in-world translation where ambiguity might arise.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:13 am 
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Curlyjimsam wrote:
Middle-earth does imply a contrast to the others earths/worlds which aren't "middle".


Indeed. In Tolkien's legendarium, there is at least one "other" world, namely the Undying Lands. The same holds true for the Germanic cosmos, where besides the 'Middle Homestead' (ON Miðgarðr, OE Middan-geard) there were also other worlds, such as those of the Æsir, the Elves, the Giants, the Underworld and others. (The famous "Tree of Nine Worlds" in the Snorra-Edda is a late, learned systematicization of concepts that varied across time and tribes.)

Quote:
The problems with just using "the Earth" or "the world" can be got around by using the in-world translation where ambiguity might arise.


Yes. Just take a word for "the world" in a major language of your world. Tolkien did so: Arda means 'World' or 'Earth' in Quenya. Andrew Smith, the founder of Ill Bethisad, did so, too: ill bethisad is Brithenig for 'the world'.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:00 pm 
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Curlyjimsam wrote:
Zaarin wrote:
I'm a little disappointed more fantasy writers don't follow Tolkien's lead and call their world "earth." More proper names always strike me as being in contrast to something else (like Dragon Age's Thedas or The Elder Scrolls' Nirn*, for example), which isn't exactly a concept that would be familiar to a technologically/sociologically medieval people.

*But TES has the justification that there are other worlds and people are aware of their existence, and all of these worlds exist within Mundus, Latin for "world" but in this case better translated as "universe."


Middle-earth does imply a contrast to the others earths/worlds which aren't "middle".

To expand on what Weeping Elf said, beyond Middle-earth are Tol Eressëa and Valinor (which are nevertheless still within the confines of the world), and beyond that is the Void, whence Morgoth was banished and where some believe Men dwell after death until the end of the world. And, of course, there is also Beleriand, which lies now beneath the sea.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:10 am 
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I stumbled upon a song title which didn't have any meaning, or at least none I could find out. So I thought I'd put the word into my conlang and later on, I gave it the meaning of "world". It only later occured to me that this could be the name of the whole setting.
Then I thought I might get sued if I ever publish anything under the name "Ozium", so I changed it to "Ôzíwa", which is a little more in line with the main conlang's derivation and word ending patterns.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:14 pm 
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Salmoneus wrote:
snappdragon wrote:
Zaarin wrote:
I'm a little disappointed more fantasy writers don't follow Tolkien's lead and call their world "earth." More proper names always strike me as being in contrast to something else (like Dragon Age's Thedas or The Elder Scrolls' Nirn*, for example), which isn't exactly a concept that would be familiar to a technologically/sociologically medieval people.

*But TES has the justification that there are other worlds and people are aware of their existence, and all of these worlds exist within Mundus, Latin for "world" but in this case better translated as "universe."


A good point, but if everybody called their fantasy world earth, fantasy fans would have some trouble remembering which earth they're talking about.

Just imagine a fantasy club and everybody is like "Okay so are we talking about the earth from this series or the one from that series? Or maybe was it that other series? Or that other other series?" etc.


Lots of fantasy series do just that. Just going by the example of the biggest epic fantasies of the 1990s and 2000s respectively: The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire don't name their worlds (maybe it's mentioned somewhere in a tie-in document somewhere, but not prominently, certainly). Iirc WOT doesn't even name its main continent (which fans used to call 'Randland' after the protagonist), although ASOIAF does ("Westeros"). Going to the biggest epic fantasy of the 1980s... I don't think the Belgariad/Mallorean name their world either, though they might name the continents. And for the biggest epic fantasies of the 1970s: I don't think think either the Covenant novels or the Shannara novels name their worlds either. [It seems like Covenant does at first, but iirc it later becomes clear that "The Land" is only the main area of events, and that when they go abroad they leave the Land].
And one of the two biggest series of the 1950s: I don't think the Narnia novels ever name their world either (again, Narnia is just the first country they discover, not the world).
And in the biggest of all: I'm not sure either The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings ever names their world, and most people don't know the name. Again, Middle-earth (which is just an old English word for the earth) is a continent, not the world (which is Ambar, the planet, or Arda, the solar system, or Ea, the universe).

And my favourite epic fantasies, the works of Robin Hobb, don't name their worlds either.

On the other hand, there are fantasy works that named their works. Earthsea, I think, is called Earthsea - I don't know why.. Pern is called Pern, probably because McCaffrey came from a SF background rather than fantasy (the in-world etymology: parallel earth, resources negligible).

The D&D tie-in novels do name their worlds, and so do Feist's works. These RPG-based stories have to name their worlds because they exist within metaverses in which inter-world travel is possible. Midkemia is Midkemia, for instance, to distinguish it from Kelewan (for the readers at least, if not for the inhabitants). Likewise, Krynn and Abeir-Toril need those names so that the pilots of the spelljammers know which crystal sphere is which, and so the guys in Sigil can put signs next to the portals.


[I'm not actually sure if Discworld is called Discworld in-world. The inhabitants I think may just call it 'the Disc', because it's a disc (like 'the Globe').]

i think that outside the RPG tradition, naming the world is probably less common than not naming it.


I always hated the term "Randland". It sounds so... un-WoT. There is of course an in-world name for the main continent - the Wetlands - but it's an exonym.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:19 am 
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Echobeats wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
snappdragon wrote:
Zaarin wrote:
I'm a little disappointed more fantasy writers don't follow Tolkien's lead and call their world "earth." More proper names always strike me as being in contrast to something else (like Dragon Age's Thedas or The Elder Scrolls' Nirn*, for example), which isn't exactly a concept that would be familiar to a technologically/sociologically medieval people.

*But TES has the justification that there are other worlds and people are aware of their existence, and all of these worlds exist within Mundus, Latin for "world" but in this case better translated as "universe."


A good point, but if everybody called their fantasy world earth, fantasy fans would have some trouble remembering which earth they're talking about.

Just imagine a fantasy club and everybody is like "Okay so are we talking about the earth from this series or the one from that series? Or maybe was it that other series? Or that other other series?" etc.


Lots of fantasy series do just that. Just going by the example of the biggest epic fantasies of the 1990s and 2000s respectively: The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire don't name their worlds (maybe it's mentioned somewhere in a tie-in document somewhere, but not prominently, certainly). Iirc WOT doesn't even name its main continent (which fans used to call 'Randland' after the protagonist), although ASOIAF does ("Westeros"). Going to the biggest epic fantasy of the 1980s... I don't think the Belgariad/Mallorean name their world either, though they might name the continents. And for the biggest epic fantasies of the 1970s: I don't think think either the Covenant novels or the Shannara novels name their worlds either. [It seems like Covenant does at first, but iirc it later becomes clear that "The Land" is only the main area of events, and that when they go abroad they leave the Land].
And one of the two biggest series of the 1950s: I don't think the Narnia novels ever name their world either (again, Narnia is just the first country they discover, not the world).
And in the biggest of all: I'm not sure either The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings ever names their world, and most people don't know the name. Again, Middle-earth (which is just an old English word for the earth) is a continent, not the world (which is Ambar, the planet, or Arda, the solar system, or Ea, the universe).

And my favourite epic fantasies, the works of Robin Hobb, don't name their worlds either.

On the other hand, there are fantasy works that named their works. Earthsea, I think, is called Earthsea - I don't know why.. Pern is called Pern, probably because McCaffrey came from a SF background rather than fantasy (the in-world etymology: parallel earth, resources negligible).

The D&D tie-in novels do name their worlds, and so do Feist's works. These RPG-based stories have to name their worlds because they exist within metaverses in which inter-world travel is possible. Midkemia is Midkemia, for instance, to distinguish it from Kelewan (for the readers at least, if not for the inhabitants). Likewise, Krynn and Abeir-Toril need those names so that the pilots of the spelljammers know which crystal sphere is which, and so the guys in Sigil can put signs next to the portals.


[I'm not actually sure if Discworld is called Discworld in-world. The inhabitants I think may just call it 'the Disc', because it's a disc (like 'the Globe').]

i think that outside the RPG tradition, naming the world is probably less common than not naming it.


I always hated the term "Randland". It sounds so... un-WoT. There is of course an in-world name for the main continent - the Wetlands - but it's an exonym.


Is that what the Aiel call it? [been a long time since I read any WoT]. If so, isn't that just a name for a region of the continent - after all, the Aiel just live over the ered luin a bit to the east in eriador, not actually on another continent...

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