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Dazzlinkat
October 3rd, 2006, 08:29 PM
When do you use a common/known word, use an obscure/outdated word, or make up wprd?

Should a king always be called a king? I have three basic types of kings (built into my world) The classic medival king = king, the city-state king = barex, and the state king under an emperor = gerent. The first one is a common word, the second is a made-up word, and the third is an obscure word.

In my current work, I am in a state king (gerent) region with no possibility of crossing paths with the medival region. Also, I have the master/mistress = staryin/staryi (made-up) and apprentice = tyro (obscure) situation.

I chose these words for flavor and as a means of further distancing the story from the classic medival setting. I plan to use a few other words as well, but no more than twenty or so (it's a novel length story). Will these words drag down the story or help immerse the reader?

Also, if I do end up using these words, should I plan on adding glossary?

PlanetRetcon
October 3rd, 2006, 09:28 PM
When do you use a common/known word, use an obscure/outdated word, or make up wprd?

Should a king always be called a king? I have three basic types of kings (built into my world) The classic medival king = king, the city-state king = barex, and the state king under an emperor = gerent. The first one is a common word, the second is a made-up word, and the third is an obscure word.

In my current work, I am in a state king (gerent) region with no possibility of crossing paths with the medival region. Also, I have the master/mistress = staryin/staryi (made-up) and apprentice = tyro (obscure) situation.

I chose these words for flavor and as a means of further distancing the story from the classic medival setting. I plan to use a few other words as well, but no more than twenty or so (it's a novel length story). Will these words drag down the story or help immerse the reader?


I say use the made up words. It gives it a flavor, and they're not so confusing. Barex and Gerent sound vaguely royalty (On purpose by you, I assume).

Recently, I was building an all-human galaxy for a story, and while everybody's human, they've been mutated so they are not all alike (some have 1 less finger, some are all bald, some are quite weird). I was calling them "Races" of humans, as I believe that is the correct word. However, in SF, "Races" means different types of aliens, so it got confusing. I'm thinking of switching to "Breeds" instead.



Also, if I do end up using these words, should I plan on adding glossary?
Yes. :D

BrianC
October 3rd, 2006, 09:37 PM
Dazz: of course there is rule, as you know by now, but my advice is to use the obscure/made up words if the use is not so prevalent as to disrupt the reading. You should not force the reader out of the story to wonder "what the hell is a Barex?" Therefore, the first use of the word should be in a context that explains what is meant. Glossary, schmossary, some use 'em, some don't. I doubt that a glossary does much good but there's no harm to inlcude it if you feel like doing the extra work. My advice on that is to build the glossary as you write the story, as that's much easier than trying to go back and do it later.

Planetrecon: the word that springs to my mind to decribe different mutations of human beings is "permutation."

MrBF1V3
October 4th, 2006, 02:22 AM
Interesting, my first thought was "species", but go with what works.

Dazz, like Brian said, use the word in a setting where the meaning is obvious from the snarfin' context, and maybe define the word once or twice if you think it would be helpful. I'm thinking maybe phrases like "Announcing his royal, most high, the Gerent of Triddland." --You know what I mean.

I do occasionally use made up words, or archaic words not always the way they are supposed to be used. Sometimes I think it can add to the story. Use it enough so that your readers understand what it is, but not so much that they say, "He made up a word and is proud of it."

B5

PlanetRetcon
October 4th, 2006, 03:11 AM
Permutation is 4 syllables, and the term, whatever it ends up being, is common enough that I think 4 syllables is too much. Species, though. Hmmmm...

Dawnstorm
October 4th, 2006, 08:15 AM
Anyone notice how you can make "gerent" into "regent" by only switching two letters around. :D

Actually, "gerent" is a good word to use, to demonstrate that not all people would probably use the same word. For example, the Emperor would probably say "gerent". The general populace wouldn't much care, and simply say king (as they probably had kings before there was an empire around). Kings of free states might emphasise "gerent" as an insult (your emperor's little puppy dog), or they might say "king" for solidarity (we're both rulers, see), or they might use both words innocently. The upshot of this? Whether you use the standard word, or the obscure word, or the made-up word, always be sure you know the various cultural and sub-cultural and inter-cultural meanings of your word.

There's nothing wrong with made-up words, but personally I wouldn't mix made-up words with obscure ones. If a reader picks up on the obscure one and then goes to research it, this may introduce a cultural expectation (after all, you would have a reason for including an obscure word). But if the other words don't turn up anywhere, the reader might end up confused.

Dragon Child
October 4th, 2006, 11:08 AM
I agree with Dawnstorm. I like looking up words I find in books in hopes of expanding my own vocabulary, and made-up ones do tend to throw me off. There's nothing really wrong with it, though. So I encourage the glossary at least as a means of pointing out which words you thought up.

KatG
October 4th, 2006, 11:22 AM
Right, because the reader is going to want to look up all the words you use in a dictionary. Or not.

It doesn't really matter if the word is made up -- groking -- or altered -- phat -- or archaic -- gerent -- or foreign -- pesos -- or common English. What matters is what the word means. Usually, the issue comes up with names of things and titles for people. Do you have knights or do you have stone temple pilots or do you have gigglepusses? The reader doesn't really care what you call the office, but do want to know what being a gigglepuss entails.

Most of the time, we make-up words to give a cultural feel to the environment or to focus reader attention on something. If I call a dog a dog, I'm probably not expecting you to pay particular notice to it. If I have a dog-like creature I call a spudnick, I'm saying pay attention to this unusual creature I have placed before you, which is NOT a dog and that difference is important for X or Y reason. Since most details and things in your story are not going to require a great deal of attention, they may not need made-up words. You use them where they serve a function for you and to the degree that you want to use language in that way.

I do admit that I lose a lot of interest in sf stories that are set far in the future but still use terms like fax, harddrives and the Net. The idea that these names survived into common usage hundreds of years into the future, when technology has changed (and given how designers like to come up with cool names and slang for them,) seems highly unlikely to me. So I'm okay with a writer calling computer-like machines nanobabies or whatever, as long as I know what a nanobaby does.

BrianC
October 4th, 2006, 12:38 PM
Ultimately, word choice (and invention) is part of the Art. You've got to simply do what you believe is best for the story that ytou want to tell. Sometimes that will be to invent a word, sometimes it will be to use a word that carries lots of baggage. For example, in one of my longer works I have creatures that I call goblins. Yeah I know; I run the risk of the reader having preconceptions as to what a goblin is, right? Yes, and that's exactly why I used the word, because later in the work I'm going to blow those preconceptions to smithereens. :cool: The word goblin works for my story but in a different context you might want to make a name forthe same creature, a smagglin, a buffabagler, or something to avoid invoking those preconceptions.

So, the word gerent is as good a word as any other. Just try to convey its meaning in as effortless a manner as you can within the flow of the story.

Dazzlinkat
October 4th, 2006, 12:49 PM
BrianC, why dont you use breed = a relatively homogenous group of animals within a species. Your humans are all one species but come in varies 'breeds'. The use of the term in front of some of your more persecuted human-types could be considered insulting.

Dawnstorm, I was trying to use all obscure words but on occassion didn't find ones to fit what I was looking for so I got creative. Cool notice of the gerent and regent thing ;) (If you like researching words look up starets and see if you can figure out what I did)

I am going to get a glossary started right now, til am caught up to where I am in this WIP.