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  1. #16
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Oh I totally get it -- sage brings to mind sage brush which makes you think of desert Westerns which aren't medieval. Which is why writers can't worry about stuff like that. Readers can get pulled out for all sorts of reasons. Mostly, it's because they're not that interested in the particular story, so the brain picks on other things.

    If you have a story set in a sec world that is like ancient Rome and the character goes "Dude, you are so gangsta" that's not necessarily a problem. In comic fantasy, the contrast of a period that resembles Earth contrasted with modern language is often a deliberate part of the humor. Another use is to give a story a certain tone -- the characters in a medieval world talk like they're Vietnam War soldiers (Black Company,) etc. on purpose to give the characters, the world and the narrative a certain sound. Because it's not Earth. Writers doing secondary worlds blend cultures and things from different time periods. You can literally not have an anachronism in a secondary world. Anything is kosher. Whether it will be engaging to you is another issue.

    That being said, a database of medieval words and terms can only be useful. Even if you're writing a contemporary fantasy, it could be useful as medieval issues may come up. So I think a database is a great idea -- it always amazes me what people here know, like say the origins of the word damask -- but there is a lot of research material already out there on the Web and through libraries. Everything is fodder in fiction, especially SFFH.

  2. #17
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Oh I totally get it -- sage brings to mind sage brush which makes you think of desert Westerns which aren't medieval.
    That could be it. For whatever reason, my mind said it didn't fit and I think that's it. And it kind of dovetails into your next point - I was bored. The author was describing the landscape one of the protags was traveling through and I just wanted him to get to where he was going (where the important stuff was going to happen), and the fact that there was sage brush had nothing to do with the story. Cut!

  3. #18
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    That being said, a database of medieval words and terms can only be useful. Even if you're writing a contemporary fantasy, it could be useful as medieval issues may come up. So I think a database is a great idea -- it always amazes me what people here know, like say the origins of the word damask -- but there is a lot of research material already out there on the Web and through libraries. Everything is fodder in fiction, especially SFFH.
    Creating a database does sound like a fun project. Though, from what we've discussed already here, I am not sure what would be incorporated. Would such a database be like those lists of Shakespearean Insults, ie just a database of common words used at this time, or in by this popular and influential author author but which are no longer used much? Because making a database of words that simply "pull you out" of the story is not going to be helpful. Getting pulled out of the story is entirely too subjective. I think such a database would have be focused on keeping the world as true as possible so as to heighten the reader's experience of created world and to minimize his/her chance of getting pulled out. And, of course, databases already exist. Though when I search for them online I often find them to be disappointingly brief.

  4. #19
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Except of course that sage and sage brush aren't the same plant. Sage is part of the salvia family, an ancient evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean and perfectly appropriate to a medieval European milieu. Sage brush is part of the artemisia family, an aromatic shrub native to North American desert climes and used as an ancient medicine by Amerindians.

    But that's the deal with words. It was perfectly understandable that Wallflower thought Christians had invented the word heaven and that it related only to Jesus. It was perfectly logical that the association with the word sage in a landscape was on your mind and distracted you, because two different plants were given the same word as their name. One of the reasons English drives non-English speakers crazy is that it isn't at all rigid and words have multiple meanings, multiple spellings, etc. We don't know the etymology of many words or have unclear notions of where they came from.

    It really does depend on what you want to do. If you want to present something very in line with a medieval country, then researching what you can is a good idea. If you're borrowing, then the hope is that how you use it will interest a majority of readers. Even if you're not doing secondary world fantasy, this can be the case because you aren't necessarily doing the actual historical mythology in an historical or contemporary fantasy, but your version which changes things. The response to "you can't do this" for authors is always "yes, I can." Whether it will work for a reader depends on the reader.

  5. #20
    bingley bingley beep kissmequick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    It really does depend on what you want to do.
    I concur. Decide what your level is going to be, and stick to it. Will you not use sardonic (from Sardinia, in a roundabout way)? Or lunacy (named after our moon rather than someone else's)? What about Greek or Latin based words (heliotrope, after helios, the Greek personification of the sun) if there has been no Rome or ancient Greece? Or are you just translating, in which case, all bets are off?

    The level that rips me out of the story depends on how the world has been constructed - I can live with some of this if the world in constructed in such a way it makes sense - in other books, where it does not make sense, I get ripped out. That level will be different for other people (I've seen people complain about all the above for instance, and what about other anachronisms? Tolkien's steam train for instance? Man, I've seen people *debate* that one for hours)

    Decide what you are comfortable with, and how it fits in your world. Consider things. Realising that it can be problematic on occasion means you're half way there. And ofc, the more people are enjoying your story the less they usually worry about this kind of stuff. If the story bores them, they'll nit pick everything.

    So, just be consistent.

  6. #21
    aurea plectro goldhawk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theWallflower View Post
    There are a lot of basic, common words that don't fit in a non-Earth setting. For example, I had one character say "the heavens", just referring to up. Well, this is an alternate world. There's no bible, there's no Jesus, there's no angels, there's no Judeo-Christian God. So there's no such concept as heaven.
    And no English. What did the text say in the original language?

    Oh, that's right, it's all made up. Why can't you just assume it was translated into contemporary language and enjoy the story?

  7. #22
    Speaks fluent Bawehrf zachariah's Avatar
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    My personal taste-detectors agree that fantasy language is anything in your native tongue that could have been spoken and understood up to sometime in the mid 1800's. Once you start using slang and sentence formations from the modern industrial era, it's instantly jarring.

    Language is shaped by the culture of the day, so words and constructions born from the age of machinery, science and mass-production are anathema to the standard fantasy settings of agrarian economies and feudal politics.

  8. #23
    Speaks fluent Bawehrf zachariah's Avatar
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    Adding an important caveat: One of (or both) the author and the reader must be aware of the anachronisms and anatopisms for them to matter. It's a nice discussion for us would-be conscientious authors to fret over use of language, but if your readership doesn't bat an eyelid at a magic fairy princess in standard fantasyland setting saying something like:
    "Eww, gross! Do those horses, like, have to poop like that?"
    ...Then, really, it doesn't matter.

    Edited to add: New word for the day! Anatopism! Knowledge is power!
    Last edited by zachariah; August 12th, 2012 at 08:58 AM. Reason: Levels of correctness too low

  9. #24
    Another thing that really drives me up a wall is when I see a real deity's name mentioned in a story not set on Earth.

  10. #25
    Seeing Apollo in Star Trek worked for me the way the story was crafted.

    Also, seeing the Greek gods in Battlestar Galactica worked for me because, here again of the story. We learn at the end of the series the final resting place of Battlestar Galactica is Earth. They are our ancestors. Their culture became our culture.

  11. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Modern Day Myth View Post
    Seeing Apollo in Star Trek worked for me the way the story was crafted.

    Also, seeing the Greek gods in Battlestar Galactica worked for me because, here again of the story. We learn at the end of the series the final resting place of Battlestar Galactica is Earth. They are our ancestors. Their culture became our culture.
    That would have to be state up front from the very beginning in order for me not to have an issue with it.
    Last edited by Riothamus; October 8th, 2012 at 08:38 PM.

  12. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    That would have to be state up front from the very beginning in order for me not to have an issue with it.
    Where is your sense of appreciation for mysteries to unravel in a story?

  13. #28
    That would have to be state up front from the very beginning in order for me not to have an issue with it.
    but both of those examples happen in the same universe as earth. I don't see a problem as long as theres a semi-logical link. though the only scifi I realy watch is stargate so I don't know if they're logical or not.




    "Eww, gross! Do those horses, like, have to poop like that?"
    I disagree. I haven't done much more than thinking that I want to start writing. And I still find stuff like this jarring in something not contemporary.

  14. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Modern Day Myth View Post
    Where is your sense of appreciation for mysteries to unravel in a story?
    I appreciate them so long as you don't mention people on another planet in a different universe worshiping Odin when it would make no sense unless you preface it with at least a brief mention of how at some point in the far future humans spread out among the stars and some of the colonies became disconnected and started their own civilizations.It makes no sense otherwise. I go out of my way to avoid giving a deity in my writings the same name as one humans have worshiped at any point in history unless I explicitly state this is on earth or a colony of earth.
    Last edited by Riothamus; August 12th, 2012 at 07:00 PM.

  15. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Riothamus View Post
    I appreciate them so long as you don't mention people on another planet in a different universe worshiping Odin when it would make no sense unless you preface it with at least a brief mention of how at some point in the far future humans spread out among the stars and some of the colonies became disconnected and started their own civilizations.It makes no sense otherwise. I go out of my way to avoid giving a deity in my writings the same name as one humans have worshiped at any point in history unless I explicitly state this is on earth or a colony of earth.
    That was not done with BSG, but people still loved the series. True fans of the original BSG knew the connection. It was great to see the series end when the crew found a planet they named, Earth after another Earth and laid down the foundations of our history. They worshiped our Greek gods and the one god and brought the Earth their gods.

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