OGF:Making realistic names
|This page is a draft. Please ignore for now.|
This page is intended to help users select place names that are realistic.
To create a realistic mosaic of place names throughout a country, each name should find a balance somewhere between actual names (e.g. New York) and unbelievable names (e.g. ZbmÜUkñçP). Additionally, for maximum realism, the names should follow some sort of shared pattern.
Here are some tips to help get started:
|1. Avoid using well-known place names, real or fictional, past or present.|
| This is actually an official OGF rule, for several reasons:
| Even if a place is not well-known to you, it may be well-known to millions of people in another part of the world.
For example, you may think "Guadalajara" is a unique, exotic name, but to 120 million people in Mexico it's very well-known.
| Similarly, using the prominent place names of a specific region isn't ideal, either.
For example, most people may not know "Kamloops," "Chilliwack," "Nanaimo" or "Kelowna" but to millions of people in British Columbia they are very well-known. The names of smaller towns, such as "Lytton," "Sayward," and "Granisle," may be a better solution. Even if you think a name is pretty obscure, try switching it up a little to be as original as you can.
|An exception can be made for place names that refer to many different places. For example, names like "Fairview," "San Pedro," "Aliabad" or "Gradina" (and many others) are so widespread, they aren't overly associated with one specific place and it's easy to imagine them being repeated elsewhere.|
|Avoid referencing real world companies, organizations, and famous people or characters.|| State of Nestlé
| State of Nésene|
|2. Check important names.|
| There's no need to do this for every name, but for important names, such as your country name and largest cities, Google them to make sure they don't have other well-known meanings that might be strange or unwanted.
For example, "Durchfall" might sound like a pleasant name, but that word has a very unpleasant meaning in a major European language. Even in cases where the other meaning of the word isn't unpleasant, the weirdness can still be distracting. Don't name your country "Tempura" or "Myalgia" or "Shakira" for example. Those words already have other well-known meanings that will be distracting for a lot of people. If you're not sure about a name, feel free to ask the OGF community.
| Similarly, make sure your important names don't sound like something weird. "Dayaria" might seem like a great name for a country until you realize it sounds like "Diarrhea." When in doubt, ask for feedback from friends or the OGF community.
If you're not a native English speaker and you want to make sure your important places don't sound odd in English, ask a native English speaker. Or if you're creating a country in a language that's not your own, ask a native speaker of that language. The OGF community speaks lots of languages and will be happy to help.
|3. Create patterns.|
| Many OGF countries lack the patterns which are found so often in the place names of the real world. For maximum realism, create patterns in your place names to help give your country a clear flavor. Names are one of the most important aspects of a map, because they tell so much about what we're looking at. For example:
|| Reina Aléjana
| Reina Aléjana|
| Lumu Republic
| Lumu Republic|
|4. Don't be too wacky.|
| Some names just lack the seriousness of typical place names. True, there are some weird names in real life, but they are few and far between so use them sparingly. Avoid any name that might get you a cease-and-desist letter from the lawyers of Spider-Man, Froot Loops, or anyone else.
Remember, joke countries are not permitted in OGF. (Jokes are okay, but they should be subtle and clever, not overwhelming and obvious.)
| Spider-Man Bay
Froot Loop City
| Parker Bay|
|Make names at least somewhat pronounceable. It's fun to think up really crazy names, but if they are too outrageously impenetrable they may not feel realistic. It's definitely a challenge to create exotic names that still capture a sense of realism.|| Z'xzññzzhxz
|Make sure your pattern of names doesn't come across as a joke. For example, "A'milan" is a fine name on its own, but if it's surrounded by "A'venice" and "A'florence" and "A'rome" it starts to look like a joke country. "Bushville" would be fine on its own, but next to "Clintonville" and "Obamaville" it starts to seem like a pattern referencing US presidents.|| A'milan
|5. If you're using an Earth language, include some names that tell about your country.|
| If you're using a familiar Earth language, you can help people understand your country better with a few carefully selected names.
For example, "Cap-Glacier" might tell us this is a cold country, while "Bahía del Sol" sounds much more tropical. "Hurricane Bay" and "Cactus Valley" might tell us different things about the weather. Many plants and animals are restricted to certain latitudes — "Spruce Town" or "Walrus Cove" suggest a very different climate from "Mango Harbor" or "Parakeet Hill."
Have fun and ask questions
Happy naming! If you have questions or comments, or are looking for more specific advice, feel free to share on the talk page here or make a post on User Diaries. Lots of people in the OGF community would be more than happy to help you with names.
Be sure to also check out OGF:Resources for names, which is particularly useful if you want to generate thousands of street names, village names, etc.