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Orphan Names

Forums Fiction Research and Worldbuilding Orphan Names

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  • #134379
    Skylarynn
    @skylarynn

    Something I had to research recently for one of my own WIPs:

    How are orphans who would otherwise be nameless given names in the culture(s) of your world?  Babies left on the doorstep of a monastery, children found abandoned in the forest, etc.  How do they gain surnames if they didn’t have one originally?

    "Remember, you go nowhere by accident. Wherever you go, God is sending you." - Rev. Peter R. Hale

    #134401
    Arindown (Gracie)
    @arindown

    @skylarynn

    Such a good question! All of a sudden I’m like, “Wait, how do they…”

    I’m gonna have to think about it and get back.😁

    Not all those who wander are lost.

    #134403
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @skylarynn

    Ooh, I actually thought about this! Very interesting question, btw!

    As you know, the people in my WIP are divided into seven tribes. Orphans (Particularly foundlings) fall outside this categorization, so they often end up tribeless, which isn’t a good place to be.

    They might be adopted by someone if they’re lucky, but if not, they’ll probably spend their entire lives tribeless. The tribeless can’t own property and it’s often hard for them to get work since they have a bad reputation. (That was a very basic explanation, but it’ll do for now XD) Yeah, that part of the system is kinda dystopian, but I need it for plot reasons XD

    Most surnames in my world work on the ‘Son of-‘ ‘daughter of-‘ model, so I’d imagine if you didn’t know that, they would probably be referred to by which place they come from e.g. ‘Of Hisar’, ‘of Ticaret’. And for first names, I actually don’t know? I suppose they either pick a name or people just start referring to them by a nickname.

    "Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark." The Tale of Despereaux

    #134404
    Arindown (Gracie)
    @arindown

    @skylarynn

    I think most of my countries would do it in a similar manner…an adoptive family, orphanage worker, or other care-taker would name them, and that’s what they would go by. Some may never have surnames, and some would just take the ones of the people they were in the care of.

    Unfortunately, in some cultures, they probably don’t take care of abandoned kids at all.

    I haven’t really run into this problem…one of my MC’s is just a kid when he comes as a slave to a new place, but he remembers his name (he’s 4 or 5). Another OC was just named one name, his dad’s last name, Jamison, and left with that.

    I guess having a surname depends on the culture…whether it’s an important component to a cultural identity or not.

    Not all those who wander are lost.

    #134405
    Arindown (Gracie)
    @arindown

    Also…how does yours work, Skylarynn?

    Not all those who wander are lost.

    #134418
    Skylarynn
    @skylarynn

    @arindown

    Well, it depends on the ethnicity/culture of the orphan.  I have a rather vast world with many different peoples, and it varies between them.

    For the Kithnarya/Eya, it depends on which they are firstly (the Eya are Kithnarya, but not all Kithnarya are Eya – a good comparison would be Irishmen versus Irish Travellers).  If the child is Kithnarya, they will typically be named after their place of origin; an orphan from Khorasan would have the name Khorasanya, one from Alamut would have Alamunya, etc.  It’s less of a surname and more of an epithet/demonym meaning ‘one from Khorasan’ or ‘one from Alamut’.
    For the Eya, as they travel and rarely have a city they settle down in, the child is usually adopted and takes the name of whatever family adopts them.  For example, one of my MCs, Nadia Fabian, inherited the Fabian name from her foster family instead of her actual surname by birth (Dyani).

    For the Northmen, they are often given a very simplistic surname, such as Snow or Stone or River.

    For the Bellans, the ward (as they are called) is given a name based on the fief they are a ward of; one of the main Bellan characters is a young man who is a ward of Ravenwick March, so he is known as Avatus of Ravenwick.  Until his actual parentage is learned, that is, and he gains his father’s surname.

    "Remember, you go nowhere by accident. Wherever you go, God is sending you." - Rev. Peter R. Hale

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