February 28th, 2012, 05:37 PM
what to name your brand new shiny alien overlords
Without getting into too much detail, I've been working a story and its chock full of aliens. Getting close to the point when I can put ink to paper, or more realistically fingers to keyboard, but I still haven't named my alien races. There are three groups making up a sort of federation, think John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata series but substitute business for religion. Does anyone have any suggestions and/or tips and tricks for naming creatures from beyond our solar system. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. Its sort of my final step before my first step and its driving me bonkers.
February 29th, 2012, 02:57 AM
It's really going to depend whether you’re looking for the name the aliens call themselves, or the name humans call them by.
If the first, you can pretty much just make up a word (please don't put apostrophes in it though...) as it will be an alien word anyway.
For the second, you need to think about how human's view them and what sort of culture your humans are coming from. For example, in District Nine the aliens are scorned and marginalised, and called Prawns.
In Revelation Space, you have distant and mysterious alien lifeforms, called Pattern Jugglers.
In Ringworld / Known Space, you have the wonderful Pierson's Puppeteers, and so-forth.
February 29th, 2012, 04:33 AM
I used to have a lot of problems coming up with names.
In fact, I still have a lot of problems coming up with character, country or faction names. A system of magic? Don't be surprised if I call it the most basic thing I can come up with.
Having said that, I would still work on creating a name, regardless of how difficult it is.
If you don't make the name yourself, it isn't unlikely to feel distant from the creation, because in the end you didn't do the naming yourself.
These days I solved this problem by constantly have a notebook with me. Whenever I see a word or a name that I like or make up, I instantly write it down.
I throw them onto a big pile, sometimes I fit them into certain categories (because some names are just plain villain names and others just plain heroic).
Then, whenever I need to a name, I just pluck it from my notebook. I have a list of hundred or so names that I like. Only names that I made up, not generic names.
You don't need a notebook to come up with the name Alexander.
February 29th, 2012, 06:23 PM
it could be worse
Considering Pete's second scenario, you could name them after the person or country that had first contact or first discovered them? Just a thought. Or maybe after the star nearest their solar system (or where ever they came from)?
February 29th, 2012, 09:59 PM
I consider the language and culture of the races involved and those they are related to.
Malkav is not the name of the Malkav, but from a language far older race that literally means "angry bird people". Their own names for themselves are several including Yishk'kok, which means "descendants" (if you think that should sound like it was spoken by a parrot, you'd be right). They see themselves as given a divine duty by that older race, and accept that race's name for them and their world. Malkavken means "angry bird people place".
Hallain go their own way, and insist on using their own name, Hallain, which means "cured ones". This name descends from the history of their world which has seen repeated fast-moving plagues decimate the population and leave survivors rushing eastward in a mad scramble ahead of it, smashing up local cultures and languages. As a result, their dominant language and religious formation are synthetic like a salad bar put through a blender. This name gave rise to Hellera, which are an offshoot race and the name means "incurable". That refers to the Hellera largely being identical to Hallain but with a disturbing lack of emotionality most especially empathy. They took the name to mock the notion that there was anything wrong with them at all.
Cetter is pronounced "see-et-tear" albeit with the first two syllables so quickly pronounced that it verges on "setter". Their dominant language sounds vaguely north Mediterranean, but when they speak English they sound British, specifically southern England. However, Cetter do take the old language place name "ken" and refer to their homeworld as Cetterken.
Names are also part of those things of course. Hallain identify themselves last name first, first name last, followed by "Iya" which literally means "from" and then their hometown followed by their parents' first names seperated by "Da" which means "and". Gellan Zallan Iya Tum Makshoo Da Kasasi for instance. Malkav use first name first, last name last; some have three names, just as some humans do. Kiskai Ieskai Kirkaikai for instance. Cetter identify by first name, then infertility status if any, then licenses if any, then race name (standard since contact with aliens) then last name, preceded by a succession status if any. Ashki K'Oogla (infertile) Na'ada (tenth level governor's certification) Cetter pel (legal claimant to the family leadership) Liatzi for instance.
How much detail do you want to go into?
March 1st, 2012, 10:35 AM
it could be worse
I saw this yesterday (today?) and thought it might help?
March 1st, 2012, 01:24 PM
thanks everyone the comments were a huge help. found out that although most of it isnt necessarily needed for the story, writing a sort of origin story for the different races helped narrow down how their names would be formed. from here on out its just filling in blanks with my handy dandy new naming notebook. now i can get back to work. cant tell you how much this is all a huge help since i dont have any friends who are writers its really great getting tips from those who are