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Skyward Houston signing ()
#51 Copy

Questioner

In the reading that you did, the Nahel bond, has it changed?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. So, spren were added, and things like that. What he had would still be called a Nahel bond. A Nahel bond in the original definition means bond to divinity, but that's come to encompass a lot more in the cosmere, any time you're bonding with-- the bond between a soul and Investiture. But in the original version, it was more only with a Shard of Adonalsium or something like that.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#52 Copy

signspace13

I think wines in Stormlight are more similar to fermented juice than alcoholic beverages, the word wine is just the closest thing in English to whatever they are saying in Alethi.

nucleomancer

I guess you're right. With all the storms, I don't think they can grow grapevines.

Just like the word 'chicken' seems to be used where we would use 'bird'. :)

Brandon Sanderson

This is correct; these are both several examples of linguistic broadening and semantic change in Vorin languages.

When and Alethi says "wine" they generally mean "alcohol." Though some of them are fermented juices, much of what they drink wouldn't seem like wine to you at all. Several that the Alethi lighteyes are fond of are akin to a harder liquor with an infusion. In others, the colorings are added for the same reason we add coloring to a cola--for convenience, feel, and tradition more than taste. A character in Book Three finds themselves in possession of some distilled Horneater liquor, and it's colorless.

Oathbringer release party ()
#53 Copy

Questioner

Would you care if I took what we have on, like, Aonic, and sort of rolled it into a conlang?

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, that'd be fine. Aonic is the one that, like, in some ways the least useful.

Questioner

It has the most words that I've found for it.

Brandon Sanderson

If you're interested in conlangs, go talk to Peter, and maybe we'll sic you on something. Maybe we can get you working on something officially. I've tried to get Peter to do something... Go talk to him. Talk nerd stuff with him.

17th Shard Forum Q&A ()
#55 Copy

llwvyn

My question is in regards to the writing system. In Warbreaker, when Siri is teaching Susebron to read, she mentions the letter "shash," which we now know better as a glyph from [The Way of Kings].

so onto the questions:

Are the two writing systems related, or is this a chance coincidence of names?

If they are related, did they stem from the same source? (i.e., do the people of Nalthis and Roshar both descend from a more ancient group of people?)

If I haven't gotten a RAFO yet, did the separation from these other people create the legends of being cast out of the Tranquiline Halls?

Brandon Sanderson

There are interesting connections around the cosmere between linguistics and some cultures. Though different groups of humans were created on different planets, the Shards all share a single point of origin. However, the Tranquiline Halls legends are not related to a Nalthis/Roshar connection.

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#56 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Kalad's Phantoms

Kalad used to be Khlad, by the way. I didn't want his name to sound so Pahn Kahlish, which I signify with the extra h sounds to give them an airy feel to their words. I added the mythology of Kalad's Phantoms to the book late in the process, wishing to give some more depth to the superstitions of the world. And perhaps do some other things too. . . .

Skyward Chicago signing ()
#57 Copy

Questioner

Why is it called a Nahel bond?

Brandon Sanderson

That is a word in Rosharan. I'm not sure what it meant in 2002, but it basically just means "the bond to divinity." I'm not sure what the 2002 version of the linguistics played out as. I actually just called it Nahel in the original draft. I added "bond" in as I prepared this [Way of Kings Prime excerpt] for reading so it would make more sense to people.

Boskone 54 ()
#58 Copy

Questioner

In Alethkar, a lot of the consonant sounds are “C” sounds or “K’s”, like Kaladin. [Can’t hear the rest of the question here very well]

Brandon Sanderson

It’s just based on the rules I came up for it when I was designing it. They’re mostly semitic origins or middle eastern origins. Kholin is actually [pronounces it], but I don’t expect the audiobook narrators to do “chuh” every time they see a “kh”. The “k” is a “c” sound. That and the “j” are the only weird ones, for Alethi. In Tashikk, I can’t even do the Arabic glottal. The double “q” or the double “k” in the Azish often is that, but I can’t do it. Peter can.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#59 Copy

namer98

I just finished the audiobook this morning, and in the setting are rules about how to not provoke shades of the dead. The rules are in order of least to most severe:

  • Don't run
  • Don't kindle a flame
  • Don't draw blood

The post script talks about how these rules were based on shabbos as presented in the Torah. It was just interesting to see a non-Jewish author (In this case, Mormon) base something off of Judaism.

Brandon Sanderson

:) Thanks for the thread.

The Double Eye from the Stormlight books (inside front cover illustration of the magic in the hardcover of book one) has some roots in the Tree of Life also, and if you look at Alethi, you'll find some Hebrew poking through now and then.

namer98

I read all of your books as audio books because they are all so well narrated, especially the Wax and Wayne series.

I will have to keep a better ear out for the Alethi.

Brandon Sanderson

It can be easy to miss, as I play with it a little first, fitting it to Alethi. But Moash came from Moshe, for example.

MuslinBagger

Is that a hint of things to come? Is Moash like Moses or something? He is, isn't he?

Brandon Sanderson

Sorry. It doesn't mean anything other than "My editor is named Moshe, and I've always liked how the name sounds."

PM_ME_LEGAL_PAPERS

Speaking of which, there's a Lighteyes named Yonatan (a very Jewish name) that Wit insults in...I think it was Way of Kings. Is that based off of someone you know as well?

Brandon Sanderson

That is indeed. (Look again at what he's wearing.)

That's based off of my editor's nephew, who was included as a wedding gift.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#60 Copy

Oversleep

I'm liking Skyward so far. I can't wait to read about using light-lances, they're rusting cool!

I gotta ask, though: what does "scud" mean? It seems it is an equivalent of "damn" but is there any etymology behind it? Cause, "scud" is also name of Soviet tactical ballistic missiles. Any relation?

Brandon Sanderson

Scud came from the Soviet missile, as a nod to some of my inspirations for the setting of the caverns.

General Reddit 2017 ()
#61 Copy

Badloss

I love, love Brandon Sanderson but I feel like every time he needs a "magic word" he just takes two regular words and jams them together.

Dreamshard, Shardblade, Shardplate, Lightweaving, Mistborn, Coinshot, Pewterarm, Coppercloud, Surgebinder, Soulcaster, etc etc etc

Sorry u/Mistborn I still love you

Brandon Sanderson

It's done intentionally. Let's look at our options.

I can create all-out fantasy words for terms like this. (Lait or crem from Stormlight are examples.) Problem is, the more you do this, the more you pile a difficult linguistics on top of a reader. The more words like this they have to learn, the more difficult it is to get into a story. If you were doing it, perhaps you'd go this direction. I feel that overloading on these terms is dangerous. Already, the main reason new readers put down my books is that they feel overwhelmed by the worldbuilding.

So we have the second option. Use a latin, germatic, or greek root and create a word that FEELS right, has some mental connection for the reader, but which isn't a real word. Allomancy/Feruchemy/Hemalurgy. Veristitalian. To a lesser extent, Elantris.

This so called "Harry Potter Spells" method gives some familiarity to the naming, makes them stick a little better in people's heads, which makes the books a little easier to get into. But they're also distracting to some readers who say, "Wait. There's no Latin in this world, so where did Latin root words come from?" And for others (particularly in translation) those roots mean nothing, and so these all end up lumped into the first group.

The final method is the pure Germanic method--creating compound words. It works in English very well because of our Germanic roots--and is one of the main ways (other than turning nouns into verbs or the other direction) that we create new words. Supermarket. Masterpiece. Newspaper. Thunderstorm. Footprint. Firework. Heartbeat. Yourself. None of those look odd to you because they are words that are "meant" to go together in your head.

I use some of batch one, some of batch two, but I do favor batch three--it does what I want it to. Works in the language, has an "otherworld" feel but is also very quickly understood by someone new to the series. There are arguments for all three methods, however.

Phantine

You can also just go the route of using an English word despite it clearly not being accurate.

"He tied a ribbon around his horse's third antennae, and patted its chitinous flank."

Brandon Sanderson

Agreed. Re-contextualizing English words can work too--I find it particularly useful to do what I mentioned above. Take a verb and make it a noun or vice versa. Or use a verb in a way that you normally don't. (Awakeners or Lashings are examples from my work, though Spice from Dune is one of the grand-daddy examples of this. As it is for a lot of fantastical linguistics.)

Warbreaker Annotations ()
#62 Copy

Brandon Sanderson

Chapter Four - Part One

Naming in This Book

The names in this novel, particularly in Hallandren and Idris, follow the concept of repeated consonant sounds.

I wanted to try something a little more distinctive in this book than the names were in Mistborn. In that book, I intentionally backed away from the insane craziness of the names in Elantris. I've written entire essays on how I devised the languages in that book. The names were appropriate for the novel, since the language was so important to the story. However, I know that the number and oddity of many of the names in Elantris was off-putting.

So, instead, in Mistborn I chose names that were much easier to say, and gave everyone a simple nickname. When it came time for Warbreaker, I wanted to try something else, to take a step back toward distinctiveness in the language, but not go as far as I had in Elantris.

I've long toyed with using double consonants as a naming structure. I played with a lot of different ways of writing these. I could either use the letters doubled up, with no break (Ttelir). I could slip a vowel in the middle and hope people pronounced it as a schwa sound (Tetelir). Or I could use the fantasy standard of an apostrophe (T'telir).

In the end, I decided to go with all three. I felt that writing all the names after one of the ways would look repetitive and annoying. By using all three, I could have variety, yet also have a theme. So, you have doubles in names like Llarimar. You have inserted vowels like in Vivenna. And you have apostrophes like in T'Telir.

I think it turned out well. Some members of my writing group complained about fantasy novels and their overuse of apostrophes in names. My answer: Tough. Just because English doesn't like to do it doesn't mean we have to eschew it in other languages. I like the way T'Telir looks with an apostrophe, and the way people will say it. So it stays.

JordanCon 2018 ()
#63 Copy

Pagerunner

The Drominad name. Where does that come from, for the system?

Brandon Sanderson

Where did we come up with that? I came up with that.

Isaac Stewart

I think you just named it.

Brandon Sanderson

I think I just named it. It's a name. I mean it references--

Pagerunner

Because it doesn't fit with the First of the Sun culture.

Brandon Sanderson

I know. That's intentional, because--

Pagerunner

Is it Latin?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it's not named after-- It's not named after-- It is intentionally-- The name comes form somewhere else. It's not meant, Latin, don't read too much into Latin.

Pagerunner

It's not a Yolish name?

Brandon Sanderson

No, it's not a Yolish name. Once in a while, I'll make them very, very Roman if I want you to make that connection.

/r/fantasy AMA 2017 ()
#64 Copy

unknown

How come they're still called EARTHquakes in Mistborn?

Brandon Sanderson

I know it's a joke, but I actually have an answer! One I stole from Tolkien, who mentioned all his books are "in translation" to English from an original language--so the translator takes liberties. They're called earthquakes for the same reason that Shallan's puns work in English--the one taking them from the original language to English came up with something that works for us, even if it isn't a one-to-one translation. :)

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#66 Copy

Yata

A little curiosity over the word "Shin", is it a deformation/twisting of their origin ? like "Ashyn person" --> "A Shyn person" ---> "A Shin person" ? (I assume this is a quite safe question to response without going into the rabbit hole)

Brandon Sanderson

Shin/Ashyn do have a relationship, but I didn't specifically intend "A Shin" to be Ashyn.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#67 Copy

Stormstoyou

I was wondering about origins and meaning of Dalinar's name. It's a shame we know name meanings of minor characters like Oroden, but don't know about our main character. How you came out with Dalinar's name and what does it means in-world?

Brandon Sanderson

Dalinar is actually a chicken-egg thing. I had his name way before I had the linguistics of Roshar, and it was always just the RIGHT name for me. I built a lot of the naming conventions around the fact that I liked the name.

Skyward Chicago signing ()
#68 Copy

Questioner

Do the Heralds know about AonDor?

Brandon Sanderson

I would say, conceptually, a few of them do, but not in specific detail.

Questioner

'Cause Ash's name is a combination of Transformation, Beauty, and Light. I didn't know if that was a coincidence, or--

Brandon Sanderson

There are some non-coincidences in the linguistics that people have started to pick up on, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the people who have those names know about the origins of their names.

Oathbringer release party ()
#69 Copy

Questioner

What is the most fully-developed you've made any of the languages in the books? Or do you just come up with the sounds and just sort of stop?

Brandon Sanderson

It depends on which ones. Like, the further we go in the books, the more developed they become. Peter is a linguist, was a linguistics major, so I lean on him heavily for some of these things. Korean gets used all the time. Because I speak Korean and did my mission in Korea...

WorldCon 76 ()
#70 Copy

Thousandarms97

I know Allomancy is, like, "alloy" and "mancy." Were you inspired by "alomancy", which is the divination of salt?

Brandon Sanderson

I wanted to use "mancy" because in part I was working in a seeing-the-future with atium. And I thought: number one, it's resonant; and number two, it works because we are looking at the future. So that's where the name came from.

Thousandarms97

No future salt-based magic system, though?

Brandon Sanderson

No. I've toyed with it for a while, but I just have never come up with anything that I'm satisfied with.

Skyward Pre-Release AMA ()
#71 Copy

WeiryWriter

Is there an important reason why Lukel is the only character of Aonic descent in Elantris whose name is not based around an Aon? (Since "u" does not feature in any Aon.)

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, but it's more social than magical. Like when I ran across someone in Korea named Moses, and it was so interesting linguistically compared to other more traditional names.

General Reddit 2016 ()
#72 Copy

Sebastian_R

Mr Sanderson, I'm really interested in the languages of SA, especially Unkalaki (Polysynthetic?). Have you actually created full conlangs for these or are they just for naming. You obviously know what you're doing.

Brandon Sanderson

I'm not done yet, but for a few of them, I'm fairly far along. Yes, Unkalaki is polysynthetic, and is the same language family as Parshendi.

k4l4d1n

how do you create your languages, do you find a language from the real world and base the structure off of that? or do you create it from scratch?

Brandon Sanderson

A little of both. It's hard to create something that doesn't have some roots in something you've seen before, however. (Even if you think that you are.)

General Reddit 2016 ()
#73 Copy

usuyami

Are there any languages with clicks anywhere in the cosmere?

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, though I'm loathe to use them in text because of how people roll their eyes at fantasy novels that try to be too cute with non-standard (meaning non western Earth) symbols in naming.

Holiday signing ()
#74 Copy

Questioner

Did Kaladin’s name come from anywhere in particular?

Brandon Sanderson

No. I'm sure the word paladin was in the back of my head, but it's not like he shares much with like an actual paladin. His name was Merin in the initial version and it was-- it didn't work, he wasn't a Merin and all the fans-- all the readers were like "this name just doesn't work" so I spent years hunting for the right name for him, and that's the one I ended up with. It's really based-- it's Kalak, which is the Storm-- not really the Stormfather but people y'know. Most of the names you'll find are based off one of the Heralds in some way. So he's KALA + DIN, Kalak and din is a suffix.

Isaac Stewart

We do have a meaning for it though. Can I tell them the meaning?

Brandon Sanderson

Ehhh, have we canonized it?

Isaac Stewart

We have canonized it, and we have told people before.

Brandon Sanderson

Then yeah.

Isaac Stewart

It means "Born unto Eternity".

Brandon Sanderson

...I mean, it means that in the same way that names mean something, like my name means-- But when they're naming him that they aren't thinking that. What they are doing is picking one of the Heralds and making a name out of it. But my name technically means "Dweller by the Beacon", but really what it means is "He was the son of Alexander".

Skyward San Francisco signing ()
#75 Copy

Questioner

For the Saint in Skyward, I just love the funny prophet character. What was your inspiration for that?

Brandon Sanderson

So, the Saint in Skyward. Not giving any spoilers. When I was working on this character, I was really looking for something-- I look for linguistic cues. Because if you can have linguistic cues to who's talking and what the character's like, and something that'll characterize them through their language, that makes it so much better in storytelling, because you don't have to put that in narrative, you can put it in the flow of a conversation. And you'll notice, at least I've noticed, that a lot of the great screenwriters look for these sorts of things, so they can tag who is speaking, even if it's offscreen, by the way that they are talking, and I just love to do this. And a lot of these things come out of me taking a scene and working with it and casting different people in the roles and trying their voices until I hit on one that I say, "That's interesting, let's dig into this further", and that's what happened there.

Emerald City Comic Con 2018 ()
#76 Copy

Questioner

How did you come up with the name of the parshman Kaladin journeys with, Sah?

Brandon Sanderson

I don't remember. I was looking for Alethi names. Alethi has its roots in Arabic and Hebrew with a little bit of Chinese thrown in here and there, mostly with Arabic. So, not sure where I got that one specifically.