Creating Words and Worlds

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. "They’ve a temper, some of them—particularly verbs…"      Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

Naming things is a great authorial perk. As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, creating new animals, plants, people, oceans, political systems, and worlds is even more wondrous: everything needs a name. 

In Peerian, the world my characters inhabit, oaks and pines exist but not like the ones you'll find anywhere on Earth. Draubs and long-tailed craiths play in the trees, and marklots are the biggest predators in the high mountains. Trailing lissy covers the ground; the tiny green flowers of the stingbush impart poisonous barbs. While the draubs and craiths are rodent-like, and the marklots are cat-like in form, there's nothing in our world like the coddle oak, the sweet pine, the stingbush, or the marklot's paralyzing scent. 

In Peerian, the honorific title "Magi" is singular and refers to a mage who can link minds with a community of mages. And the verb “haunce" means so much more to those who have the ability to transform plants and bind magic.

Even without making up words, our language is rich. I have a special fondness for place names in Scotland. My family hails from Banffshire and Aberdeenshire, on the northeast coast. A look at the 1843-1882 Ordnance Map reveals colorful, descriptive place names like Backhill of Clachriach, Nether Kinmundy, Corse o' Balloch, Lochlundie Moss, Knowes of Elrick, and Spey Mouth. 

My computer opens onto the OneLook Reverse Dictionary. Visit  other word sites I enjoy by clicking on the links to the right.

© KA Gillett 2011-2017