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Hapax Legomenon
07-14-2014, 06:21 AM
I have what may be a problem with terminology and I am hoping that it will not turn out like my last one.

I'm building a world where there are a group of people who are picked up pretty much at birth and raised alongside scary monster god things that have lots of power in certain areas (examples would be giant flying sharks, hiveminds of salamanders, sapient pipe organs... really they take any form but there are a lot of them). All of them have their own agendas and wants and stuff but the people who grow up with them have the job of making sure that these monsters get along with humans, or at least don't bother them too much. With constant exposure to these weird monster gods things they tend to progressively become more like them and often become strangely powerful.

Normal humans are, or were, very suspicious of these people even though their purpose is to be mediators. To try to keep goodwill the mediators have various very strict honor codes and such -- but still even with this they occasionally (and sometimes often) get lynched.

In the story I had originally wanted to call these mediators "witches" but I don't know if I should use a different term and people will be too confused by the term.

Dennis E. Taylor
07-14-2014, 06:42 AM
I think you need two terms -- one is the common term, and another is the derogatory term, preferably a bit obscene or scatological.

4burner
07-14-2014, 06:57 AM
Witch doesn't seem to fit the role you have described here. It's a powerful word with many connotations, none of which really bring to mind a mediator or go-between for me.

Start with messenger/mediator/diplomat and go from there, would be my suggestion. Maybe research similar roles played by mythological creatures for inspiration.

Hapax Legomenon
07-14-2014, 07:04 AM
Well I had the idea of "witch" because of the idea that these people are persecuted due to serving otherworldly inhuman beings and in that gained strange powers -- so from the "deal with satan" version that isn't common in modern literature. It's just that people forget that they're also serving the public interest as well.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-14-2014, 07:13 AM
I think Mediator or Liaison or similar would be a better term. I don't think witch really fits in this context. There are too many parts of the various witch mythologies that don't fit, to me.

JulianneQJohnson
07-14-2014, 07:24 AM
If their job is arbiter, maybe the negative term of the common people should have a similar connotation, such as spy or narc.

Hapax Legomenon
07-14-2014, 08:21 AM
It's not arbiter. It's more conciliator. Though I would definitely prefer something more magical-sounding than conciliator.

noranne
07-14-2014, 09:01 AM
I immediately thought liaison. I think witches has too many connotations to work well in that context. For a derogatory term, maybe something along the lines of "human-traitor"—something that implies these people have given up their humanity to become something grotesque. Half-breeds, maybe?

Titan Orion
07-14-2014, 10:30 PM
For me, names like this depend on a number of factors.

Who defined what they are? Is it the weird monster god things that named them "witches," or is it people outside of those circles? If both, then I agree with Angry Guy in that you could give them two names; one which they refer to themselves as, and another that "the rest of the world" use, which is likely to be either derogative or based on a surface level/face value point of view (like the terms witch, mutant, yada yada).

Once you know who named them, look at what factors are likely to stand out enough to warrant a name being given, if that makes sense. For example in Game of Thrones there are Whitewalkers, which are basically zombie-like beings that roam the blizzards of the north. Blizzard roaming undead ---> Whitewalkers. The name is clearly given to them by humans, and if the Whitewalkers could talk, they probably wouldnt have picked that name for themselves.

Maybe they are called puppets or pawns (or politicians!) because outsiders may only see someone who is acting on behalf of a higher power which they must obey without question.

On the other hand, maybe its the weird monster god things that named them. What qualities would they name them after? Did these gods know the "witches" became gradually powerful in their presence? If they knew, then maybe they could be called something like Inherents.

Maybe they are vessels, conduits for the will of greater existences; or familiars, who know they are the playthings of gods but enjoy the sliver of power they receive in return; or shamans, who interact with spirits that others cannot see or smell or touch.

Personally I think either Inherent if you want to go with a mystical vibe - although that only hints at what they are, and doesnt define what they do - or familiars, because the term would be seen as a compliment to insiders and an insult to outsiders, whilst also hinting at their purpose.

Hapax Legomenon
07-15-2014, 07:21 AM
I kind of like "familiar" considering it is still going with the whole witch thing. I have no idea how "inherent" sounds magical or even makes sense in this context, considering the word's meaning. Is there something I'm missing?

Kylabelle
07-15-2014, 07:25 AM
My first thought was that they are priests. Interceding with or propitiating monstergod things on behalf of humanity sounds like priestcraft, to me.

And they could surely be called witches behind their backs.

Dryad
07-15-2014, 08:14 AM
Caretakers? Minders? The first sounds so nice. The second has the possibility of double meanings.

I don't like witches.

4burner
07-15-2014, 08:32 AM
Off topic:

Titan Orion - you cheeky devil.

If I said the name Ferren, would it ring any bells? or maybe blow them up?

Once!
07-15-2014, 02:46 PM
I have a personal theory about names in science fiction and fantasy. It might help, it might not.

If the thing has been around for a long time, then there is a good chance that it has an exotic name with a derivation that we don't understand. Vampire. Nosferatu. Gargoyle. Zombie. Nazgul. Harpy. Gorgon. Sith. Jedi. Klingons.

On the other hand, if we discover or create something in relatively modern times then we are usually going to give it a more logical name. Day walker. Shapeshifter. Xenomorph. Federation of Planets. Biters. Walkers. The fellowship of the ring.

So when I'm looking for a name for something, the first thing to do is to think about who gave it that name and how long ago it was. An old name would be exotic, a more contemporary name would be descriptive, the name given by a scientist would be logical, a slang term might be derogatory, and so on.

Personally, I'm not a great fan of "witch" because of the baggage it carries.

Hapax Legomenon
07-15-2014, 05:16 PM
I have other considerations besides the ones you mentioned.

1) It is not exactly a 100% intuitive concept

and

2) it is so integral to the story that it would have to be on the blurb.

Because of this I wanted to be able to use a familiar word rather than use a made-up one or one that's an actual term for an earthly legal or diplomatic figure.

StarWombat
07-15-2014, 05:38 PM
I think a thesaurus is your best bet. Put in messenger, and see what you get. Personally, I like 'emissary'.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-16-2014, 12:46 AM
I have other considerations besides the ones you mentioned.

1) It is not exactly a 100% intuitive concept

and

2) it is so integral to the story that it would have to be on the blurb.

Because of this I wanted to be able to use a familiar word rather than use a made-up one or one that's an actual term for an earthly legal or diplomatic figure.


In regards to #2, I think that actually makes "witch" a worse word. They aren't Harry Potter witches or Salem witches,so to use the word for something that isn't an intuitive concept is going to be deceiving to the reader, and that's not what you want from a back-cover blurb.

Xelebes
07-16-2014, 01:45 AM
Sidess?

Someone who unlike a spywife (someone who interprets for the gods to humans) is able to communicate and manipulate the gods. In this case, instead of gods, the sidess would be comunicating and manipulating awesome beasts.

Dennis E. Taylor
07-16-2014, 01:52 AM
What about familiars? We always think about animal familiars for humans, but wouldn't these people fill the same niche? If you referred to them as the 'human familiars', it might send the right idea.

Hapax Legomenon
07-16-2014, 06:59 AM
Yeah, #2 is why I realized I could not use "witch". I had the same problem with my last WIP, but there I found a new word to replace it relatively easily. That does not seem to be the case here, unfortunately.


Sidess?

Someone who unlike a spywife (someone who interprets for the gods to humans) is able to communicate and manipulate the gods. In this case, instead of gods, the sidess would be comunicating and manipulating awesome beasts.

I am really curious as to where you are getting these words "sidess" and "spywife".

RSwordsman
07-16-2014, 09:42 AM
Personally I really like "mediator" as it sounds sufficiently humble-important, and the derogatory term could be anything that hits at their privileged status. Blue bloods, sellouts, or the like.

PeteMC
07-16-2014, 06:33 PM
How does "plenipotentiary" grab you?

Hillsy7
07-16-2014, 07:16 PM
I agree with Angry guy - 2 terms (one good, one bad)

There's a lot here that's dependant on tone. For example: First thing I got was perhaps something with a more biblical, archaic bent - something like Chroniclers, or Archon, or Vox Deis, or mebbe with a -Tron suffix. But that's very serious, very grown up. It's deliberately a title. Something more akin to the Amyrlin Seat.

However, if the tone is a little more YA, a bit more Indiana Jones romp, it might come across a bit heavy or awkward. Then probably a more literal title would suit. Emmissary, Mediator, Magus, Speaker, Voice.....something like that. I like Arbiter....it's a good word on the tongue.

As for cusses - a lot of it will be based on the society....God-cursed (If they are becoming like them), I like Spy if the tone is lighter, apostate if they are seen to abandon the people, Aberrant or Miscreation if it's darker and more brooding in tone.....

...Basically I'd say don't get too hung up on the exactitude of the title itself, but get something that matches the tone and feel of the novel. Witch, for instance, could be a great insult for them (Aes Sedei in Wheel of Time are referred to as Witches for an insult. Matches the tone perfectly)

Anyways - my tuppence. Good luck

Xelebes
07-16-2014, 08:39 PM
I am really curious as to where you are getting these words "sidess" and "spywife".

Anglo-Saxon religion

Hapax Legomenon
07-16-2014, 09:13 PM
Anglo-Saxon religion

Interesting. Got any links or citations? Google is being uncooperative.

Dryad
07-16-2014, 09:49 PM
I've done a fair amount of Anglo-Saxon study and I've never heard of that.

Xelebes
07-16-2014, 11:08 PM
Interesting. Got any links or citations? Google is being uncooperative.

Alaric Hall's "Elves in Anglo Saxon England"

The words are modernised. Hall has found them written as sidsa and siden, and served the same purpose as the seithr in Norse religion. Spywife comes from AS spaewife, served the same purpose as a volva in Norse religion.

Titan Orion
07-17-2014, 01:47 AM
I kind of like "familiar" considering it is still going with the whole witch thing. I have no idea how "inherent" sounds magical or even makes sense in this context, considering the word's meaning. Is there something I'm missing?

Inherent could be a magical thing if they gain aka "inheret" powers from being around the crazy weird monster god stuff. Then again, I don't know how that works... Maybe Inherent isn't a good suggestion then.


Off topic:

Titan Orion - you cheeky devil.

If I said the name Ferren, would it ring any bells? or maybe blow them up?

Dayum bro of course! Hell, as soon as I saw 4burner I knew. Good to see you man :)

Hapax Legomenon
07-17-2014, 01:54 AM
I think you're mixing up words a bit. Something "inherent" is something essential to a thing. Someone who "inherits", or is left something, is an heir.

Titan Orion
07-17-2014, 09:05 PM
Go with familiar then :D

BabySealWriter
07-18-2014, 02:42 AM
what about Shaman. Shamans were often considered to be a go between for mortal and immortal relations.

Also, I agree with a common name, and a derogatory name as well. Maybe Shaman which brings all of the positive connotations with the word as something good. Then use witch or something similar as a slur.

May be too simple, but I like simple.

Liosse de Velishaf
07-18-2014, 04:41 AM
I wouldn't think "shaman" would quite fit. Even if it's being used in the loosest sense, the supernatural aspect is not really close to what's described here.



I do think the dual (or even more depending on what group is doing the talking) is a good idea, though.