Monday, February 20, 2017

I have strong feelings about names, emotional problems

Names should mean something.  I hate, hate-hate-hate, more than anything else about Pathfinder's dumbness, the profusion of meaningless Star Wars names that pop up everywhere in Golarion.   Let me grab one out of Kingmaker, at random.  "Jhod Khavken."  What the fuck is that?  Okay I didn't pick it at random that's literally one of my least favorite names ever.  First off, I hate the English way of pronouncing J.  Take Spanish or Nordic, but what's this "juh" sound?  Feel that tingle behind your teeth when you make that noise?  I hate that.  Then that impact on the roof of your mouth with the "duh."  Both of those in close proximity are sort of unpleasant.  "Jod."  Stupid name.  You know who had a nose for stupid names?  George Carlin.  Maybe because George, with its two "juhs" in close proximity, isn't a great name.  I mean, it's a respectable name---obviously, it means "Farmer" and its most famous bearer is the knight of knights, yadda yadda, but I will never love it (although Greek Iorges and Russian Yuri are good).   Anyway George Carlin had it right---names that end in "duh" sound stupid.  "HI, I'M TODD."  Todd.  Todd.  Jod.  Jod.*  At least words like "justice" and "Jor-El" give you a little breather after the Juh.   SHUT UP I'M NOT DONE. 

*Genuine apologies to anyone named Todd or Rod reading this.  It's not personal.  Especially to New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles.  Sorry about your 2016 season.  

Kavken."  What even is that?  Is that supposed to be like, etymologically related to Kraken?  Cah-vuh (as in "Popol Vuh" or "Varoom") -ken.  Seriously?  You know what I love about Tudor England?  Like literally everybody was named Tom or John.  You need a name?  John Thomas, literally, just like, look at that John Thomas over there, ambling down Drury Lane.   I need to name an NPC?  Tom Jons.  Jon Toms.   Tall Jon.  Strong Jon.  Bald Thomas.   You know what you get when you name a random-ass NPC Bald Thomas?  An immediate connection to a real culture that exists, a sense of place and of the kind of traditions this place has.  You know at once there's a lot of Toms around so this guy is differentiated by the kind of unflattering nickname peasant mums are always flinging around.  You do the same thing in Spanish, by the way.  Everybody is called for their worst trait.   The guy with the saggy chest is Chichis.  The guy with thin eyes is Chino.  So-on.

Obviously, Paizo, I'm not asking you name your questgiving NPC Chino Jones  (but what about "Elf Jones?"  In a world where short, wiry elves with big anime eyes and pointy ears are a thing maybe small-framed guys get called Elf, Elfy, The Old Elfer, IDK).   You know what's a good NPC name?  Baldersnatch.  It's like "balderdash" but sounds bold, and grabby (he baldly grabs).  You'd reflexively tighten your fingers on your coin pouch the second your DM says "the guy running this place is a round geezer named Baldersnatch."  Okay, here's a better example: Rumpelstiltzkin.  Come on, that's a name that tells at once you this guy is dowdy (rumpled), maybe awkward (stilted), but with a name that long and complicated he can't just be dismissed. 

Give people a name like that, a name that has a sound.  A name that has character.   What the fuck is the character of Jhod Kavken?  Is he from Mos Eisley Spaceport?  At least Star Wars was doing a thing with, like, Obi-Wan Kenobi.  That dude has a deliberately weird kinda oriental sounding name so you instantly know, after being introduced to the Skywalkers and the Darklighters, that Old Ben's Really Not From Around Here.  Jhod.  Jhod.  Jehod.  God.  I hate that name.   And like I said, someone at Paizo is really in love with soft noises like "juh" and "sh," and just awkwardly mashing consonants that shouldn't go together together like "vuhhk" or "sht" (you think that swear exists because it's just a naturally unpleasant pairing of sounds?  Like "ffk?"  I may be on to something there).  It makes a lot of their dumb fantasy names viscerally unpleasant to read (oddly enough, the word "viscera" is kind of pleasant.  Just say that to yourself, "viscera, viscera, viscera.")   Should I make a list of consonants that pair well and ones that are dissonant?  Like "puh-luh" (pleasant, please) "puh-ruh" (pretty, prim), versus, well, "duh-suh" (dis, dys).  

Should I even post this or am I giving myself away as insane?   


ee:  Look at Tolkien, he knows what he's talking about.  "Ainur" and "Noldor" are pleasant sounding, almost soothing words.  "Grishnakh" is not pretty to any sensibility.  It's what we caricature middle eastern language as sounding like---durka, durka.   "Cavendish" is a very unpleasant, soggy name although it does force the lips apart at the sides as if one were speaking around a pipe, interestingly.  Also here's a name that's totally an exception to my rule about unpleasant noises: Jerjerod (as in, the Grand Moff).  Lots of Js, ends in Duh, sounds a little ineffectual but of noble bearing (you've got a "rod" in there like kings wield, the kingly color red, I dunno).

eee:  Just is an ugly word and rightly so.  It is an interjection ("Just----") and a harsh (hsh) thing, whereas I think we can agree it is more pleasant but not quite as exacting to be fair as opposed to just