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View Full Version : Naming "Chinese Swords" in a fictional world?



MJN SEIFER
05-09-2011, 12:33 AM
Say you were making a storyline, and set it in a fictonal world (not ours). If one wanted to include Chinese Swords (http://www.swordsoftheeast.com/ProductImages/coldsteel%20images/88cws%20d.jpg) how would they go about it? If it's a fictional world, there's no China, and if there's no China, how can they be called Chinese Swords (that is their name, they are litterally called Chinese Swords). It's alright including things like Katanas, Jians, Broadswords etc because they are simple names of swords (and no "Katana" is not the Japanese word for Sword, comentry to popular belief).

I like Chinese Swords, but I work better when it's a fictional world - is there a way around this?

Bunny
05-09-2011, 12:41 AM
Different name, same description.

Yar
05-09-2011, 12:45 AM
Or, just like katana, use the Chinese word for these swords. :)

qwertysaur
05-09-2011, 01:02 AM
That looks similar to a Dao, you could use them instead. :p

Vermachtnis
05-09-2011, 01:48 AM
Make a fictional country and name them after that.

Alternatively call them tacos.

Steve
05-09-2011, 02:16 AM
They're similar in design to a Falchion so in theory you could get away with calling them as such though a Falchion tends to have a longer more curved blade.

I would also note that you should if writing pure fantasy/fiction avoid using the proper names of any type of sword excluding perhaps the Broad Sword or Long Sword and Short Sword. The reason for this is unless your world is based heavily on the existing countries/world then your nations are not likely to be speaking Greek, Spanish, French, Japanese, Hindi etc to get these names. A good writer would generate his own names representative of the language of their home fantasy country and culture and merely use an accurate description of the swords in question to describe the blade type. Of course, that would take a lot longer and far more effort to do but if seriously interested in writing sci-fi/fantasy fiction that comes with the territory, learning that even simple things such as air, water, earth, fire can need a whole different word to explain them. When the 4 base elements require new names for different cultures and nations not found on this earth, then imagine what something as complex as a sword would need.

Peegee
05-09-2011, 03:16 AM
Well that depends on how you are using other nouns. If there are doors and cups and horses and humans, what do you call them?

MJN SEIFER
05-14-2011, 10:51 PM
Thank you for all the answers, I appreciate them.


Different name, same description.


Make a fictional country and name them after that.



I'll probably end up doind one of these choices, so thanks for answering.


That looks similar to a Dao, you could use them instead. :p



They're similar in design to a Falchion so in theory you could get away with calling them as such though a Falchion tends to have a longer more curved blade.

These are so good options, so I may have this as a fall back option.


I would also note that you should if writing pure fantasy/fiction avoid using the proper names of any type of sword excluding perhaps the Broad Sword or Long Sword and Short Sword. The reason for this is unless your world is based heavily on the existing countries/world then your nations are not likely to be speaking Greek, Spanish, French, Japanese, Hindi etc to get these names. A good writer would generate his own names representative of the language of their home fantasy country and culture and merely use an accurate description of the swords in question to describe the blade type. Of course, that would take a lot longer and far more effort to do but if seriously interested in writing sci-fi/fantasy fiction that comes with the territory, learning that even simple things such as air, water, earth, fire can need a whole different word to explain them. When the 4 base elements require new names for different cultures and nations not found on this earth, then imagine what something as complex as a sword would need.

You raise an interesting point, but I think that I may be able to get away with using names that don't out right reveal where they're from, but I will seriously concider what you are saying. I'd probably keep elementals the same, though.

Madame Adequate
05-15-2011, 01:33 AM
You don't need to come up with new names for everything in a fantasy culture anymore than you need to come up with a new language for each one. Iceglow may as well be saying that you can't use English because why would they be using English in Ixblorpistan? Unless you're going for the really super fucking detailed angle you can make the assumption that things are being rendered in an appropriate language and that it is being translated for the reader's ease, indeed this is a basic assumption that a huge amount of fiction makes.

That said, Chinese Sword is a case where you should look for an alternative because it directly refers to China. But bec de corbin doesn't need something non-French in a world without France.

Old Manus
05-15-2011, 02:28 AM
Just call them swords. Cloud do has one, after all.

Big D
05-15-2011, 03:43 AM
That said, Chinese Sword is a case where you should look for an alternative because it directly refers to China. But bec de corbin doesn't need something non-French in a world without France.I dunno, I'd avoid a term like bec de corbin in fantasy too. It stands out too starkly as a 'French name', especially when you could just call it a crow's-beak poleaxe or something similar, directly referencing the meaning of its name.

As for Chinese swords? Falchion or machete are decent substitute terms. Or simply "a single-edged sword with a broad, curving blade in the style" when describing it for the first time.

While English is an unashamed amalgamation of plenty of other languages, it still grates on my mind when an overtly non-English word or phrase crops up in a fantasy work. I guess my brain's suspension of disbelief centre likes to think that the novel is actually an English translation of whatever language would've 'really' been used by the characters. [i]The Lord of the Rings is a good example of this, since Tolkien actually makes it clear that it's written as though he's translated all the dialogue, and even the character names, from their original languages. In situations like that, having un-translated non-English phrases suggests either an unfinished translation job, or it implies that this imaginary world also somehow includes this other Earth language or culture.

But maybe that's just me.

Værn
05-15-2011, 09:48 AM
It's alright including things like Katanas, Jians, Broadswords etc because they are simple names of swords (and no "Katana" is not the Japanese word for Sword, comentry to popular belief).

In the strictest sense, the term katana in Japanese is applied to any kind of single-edged sword, of any origin; contrary to common belief outside Japan, the Japanese word does not necessarily refer to a Japanese sword.Just thought I'd toss that out there :D

Also, just to contribute something that may be productive to the topic to balance out me randomly pointing out something completely unrelated to the actual topic, I've done some random clicking around. Pretty sure that sword's proper name is "dadao" (a variety of dao, as qwerty mentioned, with a larger hilt that essentially makes it a Chinese bastard sword). If you don't have a problem using a proper name to refer to a specific style of weapon regardless of its origin (as you said in your first post), "dadao" would be the way to go.
Besides referring to it specifically by its Chinese name, I see no reason why you, as the narrator, can't describe the sword as being similar to a dao or dadao, as long as the characters just refer to it as a sword.