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Mark Moore
12-17-2014, 07:51 AM
I've been trying to come up with a name for the medieval fantasy world that I'm developing - without any luck.

That got me thinking about something. Does the world need a name at all? I've been referring to it as "the world" in my planning file. However, if my characters refer to it that way, would there be a sense that something is missing?

Osulagh
12-17-2014, 08:17 AM
No.

Polenth
12-17-2014, 08:19 AM
We live on a planet called Earth and our moon is called the Moon. When you don't know there are numerous planets and moons out there, there's no drive to come up with interesting and unique names. So it's perfectly realistic for people to call their land "the world", because it's the only world they know.

If they're colonists from some other world, you might expect a fancier name. Otherwise, the world is more likely than them calling it Gfffotorrd'hhy.

Filigree
12-17-2014, 08:41 AM
Which my brain just helpfully changed to Giftordi.

Your world may need a name if the people living on it are aware it's a world. If they have a concept of territory larger than just their domains. In real examples, that's often a fancier way of saying 'this is all our dirt, hands off!'

In my sword&planet fantasy universe, one of the oldest civilizations on a particular world named it with their word for 'Hidden Star'. Later civilizations took up the name without realizing the first group was more accurate than poetic. The larger story arc involves those later people figuring out what to do about their problem planet.

VeryBigBeard
12-17-2014, 09:26 AM
As long as it's not getting confusing or jarring, no.

I was going without for a long time but I added a name on revision because I was finding some of the narration awkward without it. It made sense for characters to speak without a world name but it was hard to be clear about specific origin history, which became more important than I had thought it would be.

Now the challenge is finding one that sounds decent....

Bartholomew
12-17-2014, 09:36 AM
We live on a planet called Earth and our moon is called the Moon.

Terra and Luna, actually.

Michael Steven
12-17-2014, 09:50 AM
Terra and Luna, actually.

Hehe, that's just Earth and Moon in a different language :)

In my story the people refer to all the lands as simply "the lands" and of course different regions are given names. The sea surrounds the lands and there are some islands away from the main continent, but out beyond is unknown. They don't have the concept of "the world." I'd have to go do some searching for etymology and what not to see when the word "world" came into use and find out what it meant.

Eventually we arrived at the concept of planets and so world became synonymous with planet. Not sure what, if anything, it meant before that.

Bartholomew
12-17-2014, 10:25 AM
Hehe, that's just Earth and Moon in a different language :)

In my story the people refer to all the lands as simply "the lands" and of course different regions are given names. The sea surrounds the lands and there are some islands away from the main continent, but out beyond is unknown. They don't have the concept of "the world." I'd have to go do some searching for etymology and what not to see when the word "world" came into use and find out what it meant.

Eventually we arrived at the concept of planets and so world became synonymous with planet. Not sure what, if anything, it meant before that.

Another name-set for Earth and moon is Sol III and Sol IIIa. That's probably not helpful to this conversation.
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I use world as a label for different canons. Middle Earth and Biblo are both in the LoTR world, for example. I think that Alexander the Great had the goal of "conquering the world" but I'm not certain what his exact verbiage was. It sounds like an interesting research project!

C. Eldon Gammon
12-17-2014, 10:36 AM
Well, we refer to our planet as Earth, even though its name came from "the earth", which is a definition of an object. So we've personified something that outsiders would see as just a planet. To us it's something special.

Is their culture like ours, in that we like to personify things that mean a lot to us? If so, I would think your characters would reflect our sentiment and at least have some kind of name for where they live. Also, do your characters speak English or a made-up language? This can definitely affect what they call it.

ClareGreen
12-17-2014, 03:56 PM
I think it was Terry Pratchett who had a starfaring civilisation lost because they couldn't remember where home was and couldn't find it by local descriptors. Do you know how many stars there are called 'The Sun' by the inhabitants of that solar system? And how many 'Earths' there are?

No, you don't need to name your world.

John Ayliff
12-17-2014, 05:50 PM
You only need a name for your world your characters are aware of other worlds and need to distinguish their world from the others.

King Neptune
12-17-2014, 06:13 PM
For a variety of reasons the planet should have a name, and the name should not be New Earth or anything along those lines, even Bob would be a better name.

ScottleeSV
12-18-2014, 12:18 AM
I called the world in my book Falla.

How did I get that? I just happened to see a Colombian tennis player on TV called Alejandro Falla and thought "Ah! That's my planet name!"

cmhbob
12-18-2014, 12:22 AM
For a variety of reasons the planet should have a name, and the name should not be New Earth or anything along those lines, even Bob would be a better name.

Thanks! (I think.)

mirandashell
12-18-2014, 12:27 AM
Imagine that you lived in the Amazon jungle. As had your ancestors for thousands of years. And you know everyone who lives with you because that would be your world. But you wouldn't call it 'the forest'. It's all there is.

Then imagine that you live half way up Everest. The edge of the world seems many miles away and you can see other villages and other towns. So there is Us and there is Them.

Which type are the people in your story?

harmonyisarine
12-18-2014, 05:05 AM
Most names for our world pretty much just mean "our world" in some language or another. If the culture in which your story is set doesn't have a need to differentiate between "our world" and "that world" or "their world," then you probably don't need a name.

An exception would be if you have some pedantic academic or such. They might use an even older language's word for "our world," and that would sound an awful lot like a name for the world.

snafu1056
12-18-2014, 05:37 AM
Giving your world a proper name would presume that everyone in it speaks the same language. You might not want to lock yourself into that.

jjdebenedictis
12-18-2014, 06:04 AM
I would think it normal for the world to get named before the people doing the naming become aware that, for example, their world is a ball floating in space and there are other worlds around too.

So naming the world some variation of "dirt" (Earth) makes perfect sense to me. How do you refer to the stuff underfoot? Dirt, rock, earth, soil. How do you refer to it once you've learned it's really a ball of silica wrapped around a ball of iron? By the same name you've been using all along, of course, just like you keep calling your cell phone a phone long after it has become a pocket computer.

benbenberi
12-18-2014, 06:39 AM
The name of the world is The World.

It only becomes an issue when there's more than one of them.

Roxxsmom
12-18-2014, 09:42 AM
I imagine that they might call their world something like "the world," "the land," or even "the earth." Earth, after all, is from an Old English word (eorthe/eorde) that means "the ground," or "land," following the Latin and Greek words that mean the same thing (Terra, γῆ). I suppose if you want to be creative, you can do some poking around to see how other ancient cultures conceptualized the concept of the world or earth prior to the word "earth" becoming standardized for the name of the entire planet.

If you like conlanging, you can make up a word in your world's ancestral tongue that means "land," or "world" or something similar and use that. But I suspect most people would simply say things like "What in the world were you thinking?" or "I have the fastest horse in the land," or whatever.

In my fantasy world, there's a word for their planet in the old, scholarly language, but it translates to mean land or world. And only a few scholars ever use the term (the reason it exists is that in the stories I'm writing, they're sort of Early modern era, so they've invented telescopes and have gotten a good enough glimpse of the nearest planets in their solar system to realize that they might well be "worlds" in their own right.

Once!
12-19-2014, 11:29 AM
People's perceptions of their surroundings vary according to how much of their world (and other worlds) they can see. As a general rule people don't give a name to something until and unless that thing needs a name. And that generally happens when there are two or more things which need to be differentiated.

Our sun was simply "the sun" until we realised that there were other suns out there. Then we had to give it a name.

When digital watches were invented, we realised that we didn't have a name for non-digital watches. Up until that point they had been simply "watches". So we needed to come up with a new name - analog watches.

In your medieval world, I would not have the slightest problem if the planet wasn't named. If the story is set in a time before space travel or astronomy, it is entirely feasible that they would not have named their planet. In fact, it might be jarring if they had.

I am writing a story set in a world without metal. But because the inhabitants of this world have never seen metal, I can't have them scratching their chins and saying "I wish we had some iron."

Mark Moore
12-20-2014, 07:24 PM
It seems to be leaning in favor of the world not needing a name (which makes sense to me), although one might be useful if only as a title for the series as a whole.

The world that I'm developing is medieval (maybe early Renaissance in spots). The creation involves goddesses creating a lot of people at the same time and appointing a royal family to rule and speak to the people of the goddesses' will (the royals will be in constant contact with the goddesses - divine immanence). Over time, the world split into separate kingdoms, and people went their own way. Different religions developed, and the royals of the first kingdom are frustrated in trying to prove they know what they're talking about and get the common people to stop worshiping false gods and doing all kinds of silly rituals.

There won't be any other planets visible, and the population will speak one language (although regional variants will develop, despite the royals' best efforts in maintaining a standard).

This won't be for epic fantasy (at least, not for the foreseeable future) but for a common setting in which to put any medieval fantasy stories that I wish to write someday. Without any one central premise, I need some kind of title with which to brand these stories. That's why I think a name for the world might be useful (admittedly, that's the only reason).

Jamesaritchie
12-20-2014, 09:52 PM
It's not about need. The world will have a name because people name everything. Always have, always will. It makes no sense not to have a name.