Sunday, 9 February 2014

A word to a word... What's in a name?

A reader review came to light recently questioning the validity of the names I'd used in my novels. Whilst I do believe this reader had an ulterior agenda, I will attempt to explain here about my use of linguistics, something which I have studied, but acknowledge I am not an expert in. 

As with other aspects of my writing I do go to lengths to check my sources, but I do play fast and hard with dating sequences which every other author of prehistoric fiction has done before, and thus why I chose to set the novels in a deliberately ambiguous time frame of the "Bronze Age" at around 2000bc. 

All my characters are based on prototypes of names in the Arthurian myths written phonetically for ease of use. We do not know what language people spoke in the Bronze Age. 
Languages of the prehistoric British Isles is under-researched. There is a confusion in Britain between Celtic language and Celtic people, a subject which I may cover in another blog rant! 

Professor Barry Cunliffe who I have heard speak on a few occasions, and read most of his work including the excellent "Celtic From The West"  believes a form of proto-celtic was spoken in the Bronze Age, and maybe possibly earlier. 
I have also verified my work with a senior linguistic expert. I am first and foremost a fiction writer. I am writing a historical fiction series which happens to utilize current archaeological information. Some published, some unpublished, as well as my own interpretations, insights and field experience, working and living in the landscape. 

If you are wondering what the names from Stone Lord sound like aloud, here's a few tips. 

"C" is always hard. Never an "S" sound and "Ch" as in the Scottish Loch and never as in Change. 
A single "F" is pronounced V. 

"Ardhu" can be pronounced in two ways,. Ar-dee as in Welsh, or Ar-Doo as in Irish.

A full glossary of words can be found at the back of MOON LORD. I should have placed in it Stone Lord, but didn't. Furthermore, a map of the Stonehenge environs can be viewed to orientate you whether you are familiar or not with the landscape of the Plain.

Further on in this Blog is a list I began of locations attached to the saga, their pronunciation and the meaning I ascribed to them. I will list a few more of the major ones here for you now.

Abona - The River Avon. One of the great sacred rivers of Britain and also a tutelary goddess
Affalan - The Apple Garden, or Avalon
Ar-Morah - Brittany. Land of the Sea, once known as Amorica
Belerion - Cornwall
Hill of Suil - Silbury Hill. Hill of the Wise Eye
Ibherna - Ireland. Hibernia by the Romans, perhaps not "Land of Winter" but from "Land of the Iverni" a tribe of that area. The "Bh" is pronounced as a "v"
Khiltarna - Land of the Hills. The Chilterns
Sovahn - Feast, equivalent to Samhain today


  1. I got most of them ... but wondering how 'Sir Gawain' became 'Hwalchmai'? I only worked that out because of the 'Green Knight' connection.

  2. Gawain's older name is Gwalchmai in early welsh poetry then went through french and finally english translation. Gawain is just the anglicised version. Ualcos Magesos is the Brythonic form of the name.
    I took out the G and replaced with a softer H to indicate that the original began with a softer sound.


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