Odd Question - Naming Conventions of Bretons


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Posted

Hello everyone.

It's been awhile since I last posted anything on here, but I have to admit I have a few questions regarding something a bit.... odd, at least that's how I see it as (though I've always been a self-deprecating sort, but that's beside the point).  Now... the names of the Bretons are something that's been a bit of a mixed bag since their creation in Arena to this day.  As we know, in Arena and Daggerfall they had more English and fantasy-style names, but since Morrowind their names took on a more... Norman and French style (many being either real-world names or words and a few being styled after these inspirations yet are made up).  Then with Skyrim there have been the more Celtic-aligned Reachmen names and ESO which seems to have a combination of the English and Norman/French style of names after looking over the list of NPCs... I have a few questions regarding Breton names in general, as well as about the creation process for making Breton NPC names for the Beyond Skyrim project.

First off, when it comes to Breton names in the games starting with Morrowind, are there any names that any of you with an astute understanding or interest in names of the NPCs that would be considered made-up (ones that aren't used anywhere in the world, nor do they exist as actual words in any language) yet made to appear like a French name or word in its structure?  Sometimes, it's hard to tell when doing some research if a name was made up or if it's an actual name due to conflicting resources.

Second, what would you say the general approach is for making names for various races for this project - and in addition, how would you describe your approaches to Breton names?  Would the Breton names be regional (a number of lore buffs and fans claim that this would be accurate, however...) or unified (a quote from one of the Breton's descriptions "...The great diversity in their appearance is to be expected from their politically fractured society, though their clothes, accents, customs and names are fairly uniform.") in each region of the province?

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Posted (edited)

Essentially what we've done is taken the whole parcel into consideration, which is what ESO also did (to some extent), in that we're taking every game's conventions into account, as well as doing some expansion of our own.

For us, the Bretons' names are "roughly regional," by which I mean that we've created areas where some types of names appear more often than others, but there's still a baseline of the typical French-sounding names throughout.  This was done to try to stay in line with that lore you mentioned about the names being "fairly uniform," but note the use of the word "fairly" - that leaves open quite a bit of room to improvise within.  It's also a good way to illustrate the fractious nature of the province.

Also note that we try to follow TES3's example in making some Breton names unique, at least to some extent, rather than simply borrowing real-world names wholesale every time.  Usually this involves taking individual name elements and slightly altering them, or combining them in ways not considered "traditional" by real-world standards.  This is what you noticed in TES3 regarding the "made up" names.  The same technique is used for other human races in TES as well, especially the Nords and Imperials.

In short, the regions are as follows:

  • Camlorn and the surrounding area primarily use English-sounding names, by which I mean post-1066 names, in addition to the TES1/TES2 style names.  There's also a bit of Welsh from the neighboring Kambrian Highlands region.
  • Wayrest and much of the northern Iliac Coast uses French and real-world Breton, the same type of names used so prolifically in TES3.  Our reasoning is that not only are the "French" Breton names the most "modern" in terms of the development of the Bretic language, Bretons from these regions are most likely to be entrepreneurs who travel to other provinces - hence the heavy saturation of these Bretons in TES3 and TES4.
  • Kambria and the insular Kambrian Highlands region primarily use Welsh names, almost exclusively.  This region is a parallel to Wayrest in a sense - Old Bretic is still spoken here (though not commonly) and the traditional older Breton names are still in use, and we've designed Old Bretic to reference Welsh.  This is due to the nature of Aldmeris' development by Bethesda, which very lightly borrows some Welsh elements (but not nearly as much as our Old Bretic does) owing to its basis in Tolkien's Sindarin language, and Old Bretic needed to have logically developed from both Aldmeris and Nedic.
  • Daggerfall's kingdom is a blend of these first three groups.  Its position in the province borders all three of those regions, and the much higher volume of trade, travel, and other kinds of movement in western High Rock guarantees Bretons from many regions eventually spend some time here, or settle.
  • Shornhelm is similar to Wayrest and Daggerfall, but also has a Germanic/Eastern European flavor to the local names, owing to its heavy ties with Cyrodiil.
  • Northpoint uses Scottish-sounding names.  Like the Kambrian Highlands, Northpoint is an insular region where Old Bretic is still spoken, but with a different history owing to a unique relationship with the Direnni Altmer and a larger remnant Nedic character to their culture, though inconsistently realized.  Rather than using Brythonic elements, we've gone with Goidelic instead.
  • Evermore's region has an emphasis on Irish names, primarily owing to most of it containing High Rock's portion of the Reach, and with many Reachmen having lived in and around Evermore since before its founding.  These specifically Irish-sounding names are what you picked up on with TES5's Reachmen, and is why we decided to carry over the influence here as well.  If you look at the Reachmen names in TES5, you'll find they're primarily Irish in origin, rather than simply Celtic in general (e.g. no Brythonic/Welsh).
  • Both Farrun and Jehanna make use of older Anglo-Saxon names, i.e. names common in England before the 1066 influx of Norman-French.  This is our way of handling this blending region between High Rock and Skyrim, as this area undoubtedly will display greater influences from Nordic culture than other regions.

The main thing to remember here, however, is that these aren't hard-and-fast rules.  Just because a particular region is going to be characterized by a particular real-world source doesn't mean those names will only appear there, or won't appear in other places.  But neither were we willing to take the TES3 route and use solely French names with the same amount of syllables in every name.  That worked for a game with a small Breton population, but that kind of repetitiveness wouldn't work well for us.  ESO did something similar to what we're doing - in fact, it used Welsh names for Bretons more than I thought it would - but we're hoping to improve on that.

Edited by Sage of Ice
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Posted

 

Also note that we try to follow TES3's example in making some Breton names unique, at least to some extent, rather than simply borrowing real-world names wholesale every time.  Usually this involves taking individual name elements and slightly altering them, or combining them in ways not considered "traditional" by real-world standards.  This is what you noticed in TES3 regarding the "made up" names.  The same technique is used for other human races in TES as well, especially the Nords and Imperials.

 

Some, but not many - or would there be a decently sized amount of such names?  Also, if you don't mind me asking, but are there examples of this in any Breton names in both Oblivion and Skyrim by any chance?

I'll confess... one reason I ask this is due to my uncertainty about Breton names as a whole.  They are a race I love more than any other - alongside the Imperials (Nibenese especially) and the races of Mer - but for me, the names have been an issue... I want a name that is lore friendly and fits the naming traditions and standards of the race, but I also want something... unique.  Something that helps me mark a character - truly - as my character and not some NPC, if that makes any sense... Embarrassing, I know, but I greatly enjoy creating characters for any sort of story, game, or setting in general - I go through even the tiniest details.

But still, back on the subject at hand... I can respect your chosen approach to Breton names - it can help represent the still fractured nature of the Bretonic kingdoms, but with the presence of Bretons who also have names more heavily found in other regions of High Rock they could still be unified in name.  

Sorry for the late response, by the way - real world matters required my attention.

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