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Hollywood Actresses by Davide Morettini 

Italian artist Davide Morettini composed a series of stunning watercolor paintings of iconic contemporary actresses, titled “Hollywood Actresses.” Among the subjects, he featured  Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. The realistic portraits demonstrate a delicate, but refined technique, which portray a classic fine-art style. Overall, the use of watercolor deliver a minimalistic, ethereal and elegant product. 

Names & Culture (mass answer)

Using Language but Not the Culture

ttsukishima asked: Hi, I recently wrote a novel and I’m beginning the process of revising/editing it and I have a question about languages and cultures. It’s a fantasy novel and I want to include Asian (Japanese specifically) and Latino ethnicities. I want to use Japanese and Spanish to differentiate between the cultures, but that’s as far as I want to go (especially when it comes to names). I don’t want to include the actual real life culture because I feel like I’d just rip it off and not give it justice. Would it be okay to use the languages, but not much of the culture it comes from? Thanks!

Hi! I’d like to note that there are Japanese Spanish and/or Latinista people. Check out Brazil for example. Anyhow, using the language from a culture but not a culture is a bit off to me since the language derives from somewhere and a lot of it tied to the cultural roots. Erasing all culture completely and detaching the language is an uncomfortable idea for me. 

Your concern is you don’t want to rip it [cultures] off and not give it justice. Well, what can you do to prevent that? That’s what I think you should figure out (see our culture tags) as opposed to avoiding it completely. It doesn’t have to have a hearty plot influence but throwing it out just to avoid getting it wrong can feel like erasure and making decisions based on fear. I’d instead use that concern to be more cautious, taking extra steps to do your research, get feedback, and cover all your bases.

Perhaps you can reach out to Japanese Latinista people as well.

See also: A Mosaic of East Asian Brazilians from the city of São Paulo

~Mod Colette

Inuit Slurs and Names

froststrix asked: Hi, there wasn’t much in the tags about Inuit peoples and this blog is my most trusted source to ask, so sorry if this isn’t a suitable ask: 1). How offensive would it be for someone to be called an Eskimo (as a semi-slur)? 2). Are the names (Anyu and Sikuaq) acceptable for a modern society setting or should I give my Inuit characters more “normal” names? Thanks!

I can’t speak on if those names are suitable or not, but please don’t imply Inuit or any group’s names are not normal while western names = normal. How and what your characters would be named in a modern society depends on a lot of things, such as assimilation, how much the family wishes to uphold heritage, and so on. Have you read works by Inuit people and noted how they name their characters at all? That’s a start. 

An Inuit person would be a better bet for answers here as we have no Inuit mods currently. I’d try diversitycrosscheck or maybe one of our helpful followers has some insight.

On the matter of slurs, see this post.

~Mod Colette

Desi with English Name

Anon asked: sorry if you’ve been asked this before but my protagonist is desi except her first name is english (catherine chowdhury). basically her parents moved to England before she was born and they gave her an english name as it was easier. is this okay?

Yes this has been addressed before. You’re encouraged to look in the tags before asking questions. 

Name from Iñupiat Culture in Fantasy

Anon asked: About naming characters from fictional worlds - is it okay to borrow from existing languages or is that appropriation? I have a main character who is a WOC who belongs to a group I’ve loosely based on the Iñupiat of Alaska, would it be offensive to give my main character a name that stems from the same group that gave me the inspiration?

Giving the Iñupiat-based woman an Iñupiat name is a way of coding her as such, which I think is A-okay.

~Mod Colette

Dystopian Names and Race Matters

Anon asked: My story is set in a dystopian future, so I was wondering if it would be possible/realistic if names like James, Lucia, Sofia would still be relevant. In the Hunger Games, there are names like Katniss, Cinna, Peeta, etc. Also, almost all the characters are racially ambiguous in THG. Would it be realistic to have races in the future, or would it all be too mixed to not be racially ambiguous?

I get the feeling from a lot of these future settings with mostly racially ambiguous characters are an attempt at diversity without really thinking about proper representation. The descriptions are often kept so ambiguous that they all get read as different flavors of white. Having only racially ambiguous characters in your story can be done right, but it needs to be done with care and precision so you actually make them racially ambiguous. This means actually describing non-white characters!

As for the actual question. Yes, those names are okay. Dystopias and other subgenres of SF/F fall under the speculative fiction category, which means a lot of it is speculated on. No one knows how the future will look and so we must use our creative thinking and logic to create these settings. What feels most logical to you? What do you base this on? How far in the future does your story take place (how much time is there for change)? Both could be possible, it all just depends on the course our world will take. One will be more realistic (bigger chance of becoming reality) than the other, but it’s up to you as the writer to choose.

~ Mod Alice

Argentine American Names

Anon asked: Hello! I’m working on a post-apocalyptic story and one of the main characters is Argentine-American. I’ve tried researching Latin American names on the internet to give my audience further insight into his heritage, but I have my doubts since such baby name sites don’t seem too accurate. Instead, I turned to Wikipedia to find the names of notable Argentines and Argentine-Americans. Is this method alright or is there a better way?

Finding real people from the group is one good method for choosing names. You can even go beyond Wikipedia and look at everything from Argentine websites, news articles, and Olympic athletes. Make sure you’re not looking only at “dated” names though, and do check out the ages of said Argentine people you’re getting inspiration from. 

Also note (and as you’ll notice in your search) people are not a monolith and naming conventions can vary even within a family, especially considering location and other cultural and social influences.

~Mod Colette

Purposeful Name Misspellings

Anon asked: Most of names for my fantasy characters are either made up or deliberately misspelled. I’m not a native English speaker so I’m slightly insecure. I don’t want them to sound racist or appropriative, so are there any particular names or words I should be avoiding for my POC characters? They’re Black, Latinx, Native American, and also from all (non-Slavic) regions of Asia (including Middle-Eastern cultures which I’m most curious about). Thank you

Do you mean spelling a name such as Nicky as Nikki or something of that sort? Be mindful that if you deliberately misspell something, you might change the meaning. For instance my name (“Najela”) means “to shine” while “Nigela” means “the dark one”. Completely different meaning. 

Also, If you’re giving Chinese characters Chinese names, stay away from directly translating them. Don’t call someone “Jade Moon,” for instance; just call her Yuyue instead. 

~Mods Najela and Jess

Borrowing Names from Different Languages

Anon asked: Hi. Firstly, thank you for your blog. As a straight white woman, attempting to write diversely is a continual (necessary) process of painful (but required) self correction to weed out prejudices & pre-conceptions I wasn’t aware of. I appreciate the help you’re willing to offer. So! Writing! I’ve a diverse fantasy story, w/ different kingdoms of mixed races. I have borrowed names from all languages across them all, looking to meaning rather than origin. I mean it to be respectful - is this ok?

Thanks for your kind words! Check out the answer: Names Selected from Different Cultures.

~Mod Colette

Monster - Spanish Name

Anon asked: So I’m writing a fantasy story in a universe that’s basically ours, with our planet and people and stuff, but with a couple different worlds/dimensions with things like demons and dragons. The story focuses around wolves rather than people. One of the characters is a villain, a demon. In the demon world he goes by the name ‘The Monster’, but when he comes to the earth world he finds that the name doesnt fit and changes it to Elmonstruo, his name in spanish. Is doing this considered offensive?

The choice to name something in Spanish isn’t offensive.  That he’s changing his name to be understood seems odd, though. Antagonists usually tend not to care a whole lot about fitting in socially, and a name like “The Monster” isn’t really conspicuous. Of course, I don’t know your antagonist so maybe this is off-base, but consider that it seems a little odd. 

Anyway, no matter what you’re writing and what the details are, if you’re going to write a villain and the villain is from Culture X, then you’re going to want to have off-setting, non-villainous characters (with some screen time, not just 'Lol so there’s this Latino who crosses the street, representation quota achieved) from the same culture to contrast their bad qualities.  

- Rodríguez

telesurtv.net
El Salvador to Introduce New Policy on Indigenous Peoples
The proposal outlines policies aimed at guaranteeing the rights of native peoples, rescue their identities and improve their life conditions.

El Salvador’s Secretary of Culture announced Monday that the country has worked with over a dozen Indigenous organizations on a new policy aiming to better the lives of native peoples in the Central American state and that it will be presented in the upcoming days.

“This is the policy of indigenous populations duly published, in which 18 indigenous organizations, but also nine state institutions… have been working in a relentless way,” said Ramón Rivas during the program Governing with people made in the municipality of Nahuizalco.

The document outlines strategies and polices aimed at guaranteeing the rights of native peoples, rescue their identities, and improve their life conditions.

The state official encouraged the residents of Nahuizalco, one of the country’s most indigenous-populated area to take an active part in the presentation of the policy, as it represented an important tool defending their interests.

Keep reading

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The first known appearance of “Adam and Steve” came in 1977, in what would become its natural habitat: a picket sign at an anti-gay rally. This particular protest brought 15,000 “pro-family” spectators to an arena in Houston, where burgeoning Religious Right icons like Phyllis Schlafly and National Right to Life Committee founder Mildred Jefferson railed against homosexuality, abortion and the National Women’s Conference happening five miles away. […]

Whoever wrote the slogan was probably going for a snappier take on “If God had wanted homosexuals, he would have created Adam and Freddy,” which was scrawled by a San Francisco graffiti artist in 1970 and parroted by anti-gay activist Anita Bryant (who swapped out “Freddy” for “Bruce”) in People magazine in 1977.

The Surprising History of the Phrase ‘Adam and Eve, Not Adam and Steve,’ by Zach Schonfeld for Newsweek. Fun little history read that made me smile. 

Reunification Day in Bremen, Northern Germany. Being a federal republic, Germany is very much a decentralized country with distinct regions of cultural differences. Some people when thinking of Germany only think of beer, Lederhosen, high mountains, Bavarian Oompa music, and Oktoberfest, but this does not represent most of the country. People’s mentalities and local cultures vary greatly within the 16 states. That said, Munich’s annual Oktoberfest IS Europe’s most visited festival and the world’s largest fair - in that context, all the cliches apply. Germany’s southwestern regions are known for their wine growing areas (e.g. Rheinhessen, Palatinate); Bad Dürkheim on the “German Wine Route” organizes the biggest wine festival in the world with over 600,000 visitors annually. Parts of the North and Northwest lean more towards Scandinavian and Dutch cultures, parts of the Southwest have Belgian, French, and Swiss influences. Immigration has played a large role in Germany, particularly over the past 50 years. Cities have large communities of (mostly other European) immigrants, including Turks, Poles, Italians and people from other Southern and Eastern European countries, North Africa, and the Middle East. Large cities generally have a vibrant LGBT scene that isn’t “hidden” in any way, especially Berlin and Cologne. I would say that the majority of German society is either supportive of (or at least indifferent about) people who are openly gay or bisexual. There have been openly gay politicians - notably, the former mayors of Berlin and Hamburg. 

“This photo was taken on the Girls & Science day I held at the high school in my village, in #Guinea. As an optional activity, girls came together on a school holiday to take part in a day full of science demos, health seminars, and games. As part of one of their team building activities, the girls were instructed to form circles. Without instruction, they grouped up and held hands, smiling at one another, happy to be learning and discovering together.” @PeaceCorps Volunteer Sarah Catherine Reid #peacecorps #africa #culture #letgirlslearn #education #science #travel #girls via Instagram http://bit.ly/1BKQ4Ly

送礼的习惯: Tips and tricks to not offend someone with gifts

Gift giving in China is a great combination of things–tradition and PUNS. The general sentiment (much like the states) is not 越贵越好, but rather 最重要是真诚的.

越….越…. (adj/v. , adj/v.)  

他觉得男人帅。
tā juédé nánrén yuè gāo yuè shuài.
He thinks the taller the man the more handsome.

…不….不重要,最重要是….

不重要最重要是得体的礼物。
guì bù guì bù chóng yào, zuì zhòngyào shi détǐ de lǐwù.
Expensive or not expensive isn’t important, most important is that the gift is appropriate. (too expensive could seem 虚伪, false, or like they want something.) 

There are many taboos (禁忌) around gift giving, mostly things you should avoid giving (忌送) because they’re homophones with something bad:

你得忌送给朋友梨,因为梨谐音
nǐ dé jì sòng gěi péngyǒu lí, yīnwèi lí hé lí xiéyīn.
You should avoid giving friends pears, because “pear” and “leave” are homophonous. (so you’re saying you want them to leave.) 

忌送给运动员一本书,因为表达你想他“输.”
jì sòng gěi yùndòngyuán yī běn shū, yīnwèi biǎodá nǐ xiǎng tā “shū.”
You shouldn’t give athletes a book because it shows you want them to lose. 

别送给已婚夫妇伞,因为和散谐音。
bié sòng gěi yǐ hūn fūfù sǎn, yīnwèi hé sàn xiéyīn.
Don’t give already married people umbrellas, because it’s homophonous with “disperse.” (ya homewrecker) 

忌送给老人钟,因为送钟和送终谐音。
jì sòng gěi lǎorén zhōng, yīnwèi sòngzhōng hé sòng zhōng xiéyīn.
It’s taboo to give old people clocks, because “giving a clock” sounds the same as “attending someone’s deathbed/funeral." 

something can also just 表达(不)吉利, "express/represent (bad) luck.” For example even numbers (双数, vs 单数) are typically preferred, so don’t bring one bottle of wine bring two. (our prof says the exception is flowers, sometimes. not clear) Also knives/sharp things can’t be gifts because they also show you want to “cut” off relations. You shouldn’t give a man a 绿色的帽子 because it represents he’s being cheated on, like the cuckold’s horns in English. (sidenote: here you’re eyes go yellow with envy, not green.)

When you give a gift you can say

这是我一点儿心意。
zhè shì wǒ yīdiǎn er xīnyì.
This is just a little something. (literally “kind feelings”)

Don’t expect them to open it in front of you (当面) as that’s considered rude (没有礼貌) and like you’re too eager. So yeah don’t you do that either. 

There’s a crash course for you, lmk if you want to know more about something since if I don’t know I can also just ask my roommate!