beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Today I looked up the etymology of Tory and Whig, and then started trying to find lists of more stuff like that, because fun.

Turns out it more or less means the Plunderer or Outlaw and Country Bumpkin parties.

Which I had heard but wasn't sure I quite believed until I saw it in respectable etymology. Because they called themselves that. Like, not at first, but for ages they happily owned it.

So all these fantasy politics stories that make up ordinary sort of color and animal names for political parties? Not going hard enough. Turns out you should start with Monster Raving Loony Party and then pretend they got elected a few hundred years ago and everyone got used to it.

Though if you do go animal mascot, the US Whigs were apparently Raccoons, so now I'm having some very Guardians of the Galaxy related mental images. I mean, if you're going to have a fantasy race, Rocket makes a perfectly reasonable prototype, they don't all have to be green. ... look like Rocket, called Whigs... *blinks a lot*

I also decided to have a party called the Salmons, who are the Everyone Go Back Where You Came From people. ... because calling them kippers is too much local.

Your basic yellow bird party is staying though, because then you've got the Canary family, big political movers of Central and the Middle Lands.

Though Canaries, around here, means the football
whose colors are truly eye watering when used to decorate a whole building. ... high school let students vote on how to decorate the new block. Mistaaaaaaake. disambiguation page says it was a dance too. Nifty.

The reason Norwich are called canaries is pretty cool, wiki page says "the city of Norwich had long connections with canaries owing to its 15th and 16th century links to Flemish weavers who had imported the birds to the Low Countries from the Dutch colonies in the Caribbean." Said weavers are the Strangers that Strangers Hall in Norwich is named for,

So to get the name of a football club you've gone through a whole history of religious refugees and the economic history of Norwich, which was a powerhouse in its day, especially in textiles. Religious tension, extremism, international politics, and jobs. History is awesome.

And if I'm pulling a fantasy AU version of the Canary family that's a pretty detailed one right there.

It's all well and good writing the fantasy history of wolves vs lions in big wars, but the little birds were so much more interesting because varied. Fighting is fighting, but it's a tiny fraction of the full business of civilisation.

... and now I'm wandered off to read more history. There's always so much I don't know where to start.

But today I started with etymologies of Tory, and it was so interesting I'm now pouting I can't find a simple list of such nicknames, to plunder for writing purposes.


Mar. 17th, 2017 02:54 am
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
The s in vision started to bother me.

… I’m reading Avengers fic, it came up.

But it’s not quite like other s sounds, so I just kept looking at Viz or Vis as abbreviations and they’re not quite right.

So I looked it up

wait, does that work? It’s a sort of curly z. ʒ

It says other words with the s-in-vision include

equation, usual, seizure, luxurious, genre and beige

which by my count means spelling it with an s, t, z, ge and half an x.

Unless it’s a translation, then it’s zh.


So now Viz, Vis and Vision will continue to bother me

but in a more informed way.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Writers, please stop trying to be Tolkien.

The things you noticed about how Tolkien used language were the sticking out bits, the ones that didn’t just blend into the world he was making. Trying to copy him tends to amplify his worst tendencies. And without the linguistic knowledge that underlies a lot of his language choices the logic is lost and things just get clunky and inelegant.

Same with trying to make everything sound old fashioned formal all the time. Shakespearean English, like every era, had formal and informal modes, language appropriate to nobility and commoner, but most writers aren’t familiar enough with them to see the differences. Everyone just sounds ponderous. The more formal and rigid the language the more distanced the characters, and the harder it is to make a reader feel connected to them.

Fantasy AUs of modern fandoms are hit hardest by attempts at fantasy language. Once we’re using text to describe these guys the one and only thing we have to work with is the words they would use. Getting their voices right is the hardest part of any fanfic. Trying to crush them all into stilted mock-period formality irons them all flat, and suddenly they resemble themselves not at all.

Once you’ve messed with the spellings on their names, changed all the insitutions they belong to, and given them all the same monotone voices…

Yeah, no.

Please, make the characters the ones you love, bring the setting to life, find all the ways it’s very much like home, and then add dragons or swords or magic if you feel like it. Breathing beats conventional in characterisation every time.

There’s a whole seperate whine about AD&D-esque character classes and how their ridiculously restrictive rails have distorted the entire genre, but that is for another time. Some people like it anyway. Whatever.

But the effect of your language on the reader is waaaaaay more important than some awkward perceived genre limits. Reach your readers, then smooth the infelicitous anachronisms out. Works way better.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Am currently frustrated by trying to look up a half remembered thing I read about twenty years ago. I know which library I was in but it seems unlikely they’d have the same books by now even if randoms were allowed to go dig for things. And I can’t remember if it was a book or a magazine anyway.

I think I remember reading about words that don’t translate easily between languages, specifically words for feelings. Like, there are languages where there are more or less words for love. But I was looking for words for anger.

I remember reading there was a word for the feeling of being angry at an ill person for something they only did because they were ill. It was part of a list of words for anger, and each word seemed to have a different appropriate response. Like, you can’t modify behaviour caused by illness without them getting well again, so it’s a particular sort of frustrated-angry that leaves you only trying to get them medicines or chicken soup or something.

I do not know if this was a real word, or indeed a real thing I read, and I don’t know where I’d start looking for it anyway.

But it seems like it would be a useful word, if it did exist.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Dear Fandom(s):
Please don't try to write Scottish.

if you happen to be from Scotland and speak in the same manner as your characters, you get a pass. can't argue with that one.

But for the rest of the world: Please, please, stop mangling the English language to make it look like it has a funny accent. Your accent looks funny from here. (Unless you're in Norfolk too, in which case you already know all the jokes as suggest your accent looks funny from everywhere else.) The thing about written English is, it's all written pretty much the same way. Wherever you are. Seriously.

Read more... )

Plus, when you use the funny spelling for the Scotsman but not for the whole rest of the world, what's up with that? Read more... )

Just, really, readers can fill the accent in. We don't need the visual cues.

... I know, if I ruled the world pronouncements, not actually helpful.
... *big sigh*...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I was looking for languages that might be difficult to learn without a babelfish.
There's lists of difficult languages, and they all have like Cantonese and Finnish and Icelandic on them.
But is spoken by about six thousand people and has all the sounds. All.
Taa has at least 58 consonants, 31 vowels, and four tones (Traill 1985, 1994 on East ǃXoon), or at least 87 consonants, 20 vowels, and two tones (DoBeS 2008 on West ǃXoon), by many counts the most of any known language. These include 20 (Traill) or 43 (DoBeS) click consonants and several vowel phonations, though opinions vary as to which of the 130 (Traill) or 164 (DoBeS) consonant sounds are single segments and which are consonant clusters.

I have been listening to sound files and *blink* a lot. Difficult!
Heh, now I want to throw Daniel Jackson at it. It would take a bit more than an episode methinks...

Using anyone's language to mean aliens gets creepy. So, no stealings someone's language to be secretly from another planet. But something with clicks and tones and all the vowels ever would be very hard to figure out for an English speaker. If they could hear the differences at all.

I was thinking, if there's people who make their living by putting a language into a babelfish and passing it on, they might want to have some particular difficult language to make sure they stay in business. Like, a trade language would usually be one made of simple parts all the people can understand, but if you're doing some kind of special initiation pay us a bundle course you want complicated parts only the special people will ever learn. But that don't seem likely to work for more than one generation. Kids learn everything.

I was also thinking if the whole language sounds like Ak Ak Ak to the British guys then the actors can fake it easy and there's some movie jokes in it.
... my fic no has actors. But then everyone has to read it in their heads.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
"We must walk a line between the diachronic and the synchronic without really knowing where that line is."

or indeed what those words mean. definitions, heeeeere definitions...

   /sɪnˈkrɒnɪk, sɪŋ-/ Show Spelled[sin-kron-ik, sing-] Show IPA
having reference to the facts of a linguistic system as it exists at one point in time without reference to its history: synchronic analysis; synchronic dialectology.

   /ˌdaɪəˈkrɒnɪk/ Show Spelled[dahy-uh-kron-ik] Show IPA
of or pertaining to the changes in a linguistic system between successive points in time; historical: diachronic analysis.


right then, that makes sense.

... the internet rocks.

I'm considering changing which question I'm working on for my essay (for having read about the texts I'm still at a loss where to start on the promising looking first choice) and I can look up the question sheet, look up the quotes in the questions, read on google the books they're pulled from, and check specialist dictionary definitions, all in like five minutes without having to leave my seat. Studying when I was a teenager was soooooo much harder.

Essays is still hard.

Today I still wish to be asleep, but have instead alternated playing scrabble (on my turns) and reading essays about Hogarth (on their turns). I'm losing a lot at scrabble but not falling asleep over the essays, so that's progress.

I have until next monday. Unless I fail really big and have to ask for an extension. then I have monday plus a maximum of two weeks.

I'm really not fond of deadlines.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Read more... )

But I don't go saying this stuff directly to people. I don't know where the line is between 'needs saying' and 'background irritation'. It's just one word, in one quote, which made sense in context, in an annoying kind of way.

But you add it all together and you get language where the insults are about making bad words out of neuroatypical, disabled or queer.

I could really live without that, you know?

I tried once reworking insults for a future SF setting, reworking the swear words so they made sense in context. If you take out the religion swears as totally irrelevant, and the sex swears because sex isn't a bad thing, and the sexual orientation swears because everyone can do who they want, and the race swears because race is just neutral, and the disability swears because there isn't any disability any more (or there is and nobody puts moral weight on it), you very nearly run out of swears. You're left with words for body parts or body fluids or excrement. And a PG rating for language. And a language only suitable for utopia.

Which, you know, I could live with.


beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

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