Adventures in NaNo-land – Wondrous Words

November 7, 2012 at 3:04 am (fantasy, writing) (, , , , , , , , , , )

One of the challenges about writing a story set in an ancient culture, in another part of the world, is language. Some of the words that apply to your tale, references to people, places, things or concepts, just don’t translate properly to English. It makes sense then to include the actual word from that culture, and I came across many Sami words I needed to have in my story which I had to leave as is. While these wondrous words can give your tale a lot of flavour, they also create a couple of problems. The first problem is if you use too many of these words too often you can confuse your reader – perhaps even frustrate them. The solution I have for this is to try to space out these unusual words where possible and I plan on assembling a glossary when the novel is complete. The other problem is that even though you and your characters are aware of what these words mean, your reader likely won’t be. The best way I have of handling this is to try to define the word as a natural part of the narrative or dialogue, or at least put it into a context where the definition is implied. And once again, this is where a glossary is useful, a readily available reference in case the reader gets a little lost.

Here are a few samples:

Along with being a better hunter than Oaván, Dáidu was also more knowledgeable in the ways of the noaidi. He had taken to the craft of healer and the position of spiritual leader far better than Oaván had, and everyone expected Dáidu to take their father’s place as Anár’s noaidi, when he was ready.

###

“It wasn’t just an animal to him,” Jaská had sighed. “You know bears are sacred animals and to kill one that close to a sieidi, so close to a worshipped stone and without the proper prayers, would have brought misfortune to all of Anár. Your father only did what would have been expected from a true noaidi. He didn’t sacrifice himself just to preserve the bear, my ávvu.” She called Oaván and Dáidu that often, a pet name that meant my “joy”.

###

“Why the closest sieidi?” he asked, casting a sour glance towards Oaván. “It’s dedicated to Laib Olmai. I thought you were appealing to Maadteraahka? Why not take this to her sáivu –her sacred hill. It’s closer. Or better yet, why not the family Storjunkare?”

“Because that sieidi is special to me, and it was special to Osku, which will make the sacrifice of his ashes more meaningful. And because Lieđđi’s people are closest to Laib Olmai, and this is for her. We’ve tried calling upon Maadteraahka. She wouldn’t listen. This is the only way.”

“Why the closest sieidi?” he asked, casting a sour glance towards Oaván. “It’s dedicated to Laib Olmai. I thought you were appealing to Maadteraahka? Why not take this to her sáivu –her sacred hill. It’s closer. Or better yet, why not the family Storjunkare?”

“Because that sieidi is special to me, and it was special to Osku, which will make the sacrifice of his ashes more meaningful. And because Lieđđi’s people are closest to Laib Olmai, and this is for her. We’ve tried calling upon Maadteraahka. She wouldn’t listen. This is the only way.”

If you’ve been following my posts on Scribd.com, the first draft of chapter 3 has now been posted. You can find it here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/112389364/The-Trading-of-Skin-Chapter-3

More tomorrow J

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