I love language. Languages, even, not just my own. The differences, similarities, translations, and meanings of words in my tongue, and in the languages of others.. it’s amazing isn’t it? I think it started with my love of names- you may have noticed I have a varied group of names in my work. Larkspur’s Clandestina is influenced by France, and the UK, so you have ‘Pierre’ and ‘Elizabeth’ but it’s also a fantasy world. It wouldn’t be a good fantasy world if some of the names didn’t have deeper meanings, would it?
Some are mundane even so. Joséphine, the reine (I’ll get to the title translations in a second) is named so because A) I like it and B) it was Napoleon’s wife’s name. And C) It was also the name of the evil princess’s horse in the Story of Evil Vocaloid series. Ok, that was the main reason I used it.. ;)
Edgard, the roi, has the French name version of Edgar, named after one of my favourite authors and influences Edgar Allan Poe.
Other names are more foreign. Ophion, Pierre’s uncle, has a Greek name. Mythological actually. Ophion was once the ruler of the universe, as well as a giant snake (his name means serpent). Ophion’s adopted daughter is Eglė, who in Lithuanian mythology marries the serpent king. Her name though means Spruce, as in the tree, for she is turned into one at the end of the myth (her children are also named after, and turned into, trees). So far you don’t see the snake connection, but it’s addressed in book 2 and a prequel book devoted just to Ophion and Eglė fleshes this out.
Now, you don’t *need* to know any of this to enjoy the story. I forgot why I had chosen Ophion as a name until I googled it a few days ago. I assumed it was a form of Ophelia (who commits suicide in Hamlet) or a variation to Orpheus (who goes to the underworld to bring back his lover). That said, Ophélie (Pierre’s mother) is the French for Ophelia, and I’m going to use Orpheus somewhere for something.
But it is still nice and fun, and to the few people that get it a little extra joy. I’m certainly pleased.
About those royal and noble titles: in Clandestina you see most of the terms used are in French. Roi, Reine, Duc, Prince (yup, spelled the same as in English, but it’s French). The ‘default’ language of the world is our English. Mainly because I speak English, but also because English is largely becoming a lingua franca and truly is in many ways a ‘default’ language.
In-Universe this is explained as the language being Saiva’s gift. She is a somewhat of a goddess, the ‘Nothing’ to Amôru’s ‘Everything.’ I’m trying to be precise about terms, because like Middle Earth, while there are many magical creatures, even divine beings, there is only one God- Amôru. The personification of Everything Good. Saiva, who is the personification of Nothing (not evil, or a lack of good, just stillness and.. nothing) is his wife. Amôru’s name means 10, though I also chose it because it reminds me of Amor, a term for Love. Saiva means 0, though it seems to also be a variation of Shiva’s name in Hindu mythology.
(Back on track)
So everyone innately speaks and communicates in English. Each realm though is influenced by a real world country or countries and other languages still exists. So yes, Pierre and Elizabeth are speaking English. But there are times where the French term holds more weight than the ‘generic’ English, and so code-switching happens in everyday speech.
Most of the time this is in the form of Titles. With the addition of magic, other beings, other realms, and planes of existence, there have to be more terms to quickly differentiate who or what everyone is.
In plain terms, the English titles refer to the rulers and nobles of that ‘race’ (I say race, but I don’t like the term. Hence the in-universe bestia, ‘beast’). So the King of Triumphe can only hold authority over other humans in that kingdom. Still in Clandestina, but outside of Triumphe, he would be respected but not have authority. Perhaps of a lesser title. The Queen of Werewolves though holds power over all of Astrarctia, but only about/in matters involving werewolves.
Clandestina is very entwined with Faery though, and while a full-blooded fée living next door is unlikely, the shenanigans of the fay might well cause lots of harm. So the king is called Roi, and if the fée step in Triumphe they must defer to him. Not as strongly as a human, not if they don’t permanently live in that plane, but even so. (Outside of Triumphe Edgard would be well respected, but not a king to anyone there).
Same thing with Pierre- he is a duc, not a duke. Fée, or as we see more in Delphinium, vampires who come up from Italaviana, are his to hold power over.
There was one term left in English which you may even have missed at the start of Larkspur: Margrave. A variation of the term Marquis, meaning a rule of a land at a border. Margrave specifically is used for those who rule between the borders of planes. So the Margrave Bastoni who spoke to Pierre rules the mountains where there happen to be a lot of portals to fée. He has authority on both sides of the portal, though much of that comes from his fée wife as well.
I could go on for another hour typing up why I chose one certain term or name, but I think I’ll save the rest for another post at a later time.
((For those wondering, I am quite well now that I’ve taken a little time to reset, worldbuild, and get back into the flow of things. I’m no longer worried or doubting. I am writing.))