1nsomnizac-deactivated20150225  asked:

Hello, Mr Peterson, I had a question about the names used in Defiance (and GoT, I guess). In some language traditions, people's names are forms of sentences (such as many names from Hebrew), or they are based on words for things (i.e Haruhi = spring day) or the days of birth (some people name their children after the Saint they were born under, many Ibo names refer to the day of the week the child was born in). How do the defiance aliens name their children?

That’s a good question, and this post will then be the last post where you can win a hellbug! So this post is a hellbug eligible post! If you would like a plush hellbug, please reblog this post by 11 pm ET next Thursday! For more details, see below!

Naming traditions work differently in the three languages. I’ll start off with the language I usually start with: Castithan.

First, Castithan names traditionally have the last name come first. Thus, the proper way to say Datak Tarr would be:

Taro Detako

The last name takes the -u termination because it’s actually the possessor of the first name. In effect, it’s like saying “The Tarr Family’s Datak”. (Then Detak takes the -u termination just because that’s the citation form.) On Earth, this practice has fallen by the wayside—or at least for those Castithans that ended up in the West, where family names follow first names. In traditional contexts, the old ordering is still used.

Now, for the names. One popular naming convention is to name the child based on the order of their birth. Numbers take either a masculine or feminine suffix and a name is produced, e.g.:

  • Avizu “first boy”; Avilo “first girl”
  • Kamazu “second boy”; Kamalo “second girl”
  • Dunizu “third boy”; Dunilo “third girl”

Of course, this was an old practice, so now parents may choose such a name because they like the sound of it (like Jalino ”Fifth girl”, which I believe was the name of one of the Castithan handmaidens this season).

Many names are built off of verbs. For this, the suffixes -(a)k and -(i)ts are used, the first like the -ee suffix in English, and the second like the -er suffix in English. The names formed in this way aren’t inherently masculine or feminine, but many names have come to be more closely associated with either men or women. Here are some examples:

  • Male Names: Detako “loved one”, Uthiko “laughing one”, Alako “chosen one”, Melitso “discoverer”
  • Female Names: Melako “found one”, Kahiko “smiling one”, Shulako “left one”, Karétso “talkative one”

Another strategy is a reduplicative strategy. You take any word and then copy the first syllable and follow it with -n and place it after the first syllable. Such names aren’t inherently masculine or feminine, but some names may become more closely associated with men or women. Even so, this strategy proves quite useful in coming up with novel names. Parents take some characteristic of the child or its birth and create a name based on that word. Some examples are below:

  • Chadachano (type of tree)
  • Banimbano (eye)
  • Tamitano (type of ground cover)
  • Shegisheno (ear)
  • Kazhikano (blush)

Then there are names that are just based on words. These names are older and more likely be male or female:

  • Male Names: Iskato (meaning lost), Seto (meaning lost), Daigo (fire)
  • Female Names: Stamo (summer), Puráyo (spring), Swogo (star)

Now for Irathient names.

Many Irathient names are drawn from geological or meteorological phenomena, or animals. These names have been gendered. Here are some examples:

  • Male Names: Nugyekpe (mountain), Kagnazi (Irathient animal), Tigyukta (Irathient animal), Indur (rock cluster)
  • Female Names: Dinara (type of flower), Umbigyire (waterfall), Gyase (flood), Ulike (river)

These names are found in their natural noun class (i.e. ulike is the actual word for “river” if you wanted to use it in a sentence), but sometimes stems are put into Class XVII, saved for animate augmentatives, by simply adding the gy- prefix to form a name. It might not have an independent meaning outside of the name, but the idea is that the name is formed from a class that does have a special meaning. A couple examples are shown below:

  • Male Names: Gyedonla (cf. edonla ”cliff”), Gyutonygye (cf. utonygye “beach”)
  • Female Names: Gyeinnira (cf. einnira “rain storm”), Gyukombe (cf. ukombe “lake”)

Sometimes bare roots are taken as names, or they’re put into Class XVII themselves, without being a part of another class first. Rath is an example of a root that often is turned into a name on its own.

Another separate strategy is to use Class I to produce a name that means “she or he who x’s” or “she or he who x’d”. These names are unisex, if otherwise unmodified. While these names take the Class I prefix, they do not take the Class I suffix. Instead, they take the -(ei)n suffix for completed events, or optionally the -(n)ǝ suffix for incomplete events (the latter is rare, since the interpretation is an incomplete event by default). A lot of times these names are given by parents to describe what the child’s first act was, or to describe how they hope the child will be later in life. Here are some examples—at least one of which should be familiar (note: remember that e becomes ei before a nasal coda, e.g. -n):

  • Starrein “S/he who roared”
  • Zelig “S/he who was sleeping”
  • Zdrorǝ “S/he who breathes”
  • Zailonggein “S/he who screamed”
  • Zburein “S/he who cried”
  • Zungni“S/he who swims”

All the names above (not just the Class I names, but all Irathient names) can take on masculine or feminine suffixes, should the namer so decide. The names are fine with or without them; sometimes a parent may elect to go with something a little longer. The suffixes are:

  • -®úr (masculine; can’t be added to names ending in r)
  • -(n)us (masculine)
  • -(n)aila (feminine; can’t be added to names already three syllables long or longer)
  • -(l)on (feminine)
  • -(n)igya (feminine; not added to names whose last syllable is ni)
  • -(a)nya (feminine)

This is how one of my favorite Irathient names Rathus is formed.

Now for my favorite: Indojisnen names.

Indojisnen names are simple. The idea is that parents give their children names that are one syllable long. The real designation for an Indogene comes when they get their first implant. Each implant has a name, and as an Indogene gets an implant, the implant’s name becomes a part of their last name. As they get more implants, the last name grows, until it becomes insanely long—too long to be used in non-official contexts. This is why on Earth, Indogenes use a shortened form of their last name. Doc Yewll is actually:

Me Yewlundenganarizomperismoyekariyuinkochikanyirasnairon

But no one’s going to say that, so she goes by Yewll. Same with Eren Niden (though a note on her first name in a second).

In order to form a first name, one just needs to follow the rules of Indojisnen syllable structure. All monosyllable words have to end in a vowel, or the letters tk or n. Indogenes favor heavy syllables, which means that if the word ends in a vowel, it should be a diphthong (like Lev, whose Indogene name is actually Lew—changed on Earth so humans could pronounce it more easily—ditto with Eren, whose Indogene name is Ewn), or an old “compound” vowel—specifically, e or o.

The names themselves don’t mean anything at all. If they happen to sound like a real world, it’s happenstance—and, in fact, parents try to avoid names that sound like actual words. Instead, parents will do things like have names that match in some way, to indicate that they’re from the same family, e.g. LewLonLatLek, etc.—or rhyming, TowRowHowSow, etc.

Doc Yewll’s first name, Me, is actually an old compound vowel. And, of course, Ben’s name looks like a human name just by happenstance.

As for confusing one for the other (e.g. young Indogene students in a ialusmik), students with the same given name are given numbers, e.g. Lew 24 and Lew 56. These names aren’t official, and only last while they’re needed.

That’s a bit about how I came up with names for Defiance. Since I’m not the only one who comes up with names, not all names will conform all the time. But it’s a big world. I’m sure there were Irathients with Castithan names and vice versa long before the Votans ever got to Earth. Now that they’re here, names can come from all over.


And, again, if you would like to win a free hellbug, please reblog this post! You can also retweet the tweet associated with this post. You have until 11 pm ET September 4th. Again, if you win, you’ll need to give me a mailing address so I can send you the hellbug, but otherwise, that’s all there is to it! This is the LAST CHANCE to win a hellbug this season. Best of luck! And also don’t forget to say a big thank you to @TrickDempsey on Twitter (creative lead for the game Defiance) who provided me with the hellbugs to give away.


A whole crapton of sketches from 2009 of one of my OCs, Niden, and his sister Ayriss. These were part of a roleplay but just kinda exist floating around now! He’s a badass sniper/tech mercenary type ;3 a lot of fun to write cuz he’s such a spazz! good times~ I prob posted a few of these sketches on my old sketch blog, but I don’t even know if they’re anywhere now! woop woop :3