The Decision

In my story “Sir” or Lord and “ma’am” or the title of Lady have been replaced by Frej (masculine) and Sarsé (feminine).  I’ve been asked why several times, and my best (if usually unsatisfactory) answer is that I find the variety of associations with the established words just too distracting.

A more acceptable answer to some might be that I like the quiet reminder alternate words give that you’re in another world.

Here’s an except that I’ve really liked every time I return to it.

“Who are you, frej? Can you tell me that?”

“If you tell me what decision you are wrestling with.”

She didn’t hesitate.  “I must choose whether to marry a monster.”

“Why would you even consider it?”

Linea sighed heavily, slumping against the mound behind her.

“Because there is the smallest, storyteller’s glimmer of a chance that there might actually be a man within a monster, and I might get to be a heroine.”

The young man was silent, watching her.  Linnea shrugged.

“And then, if I’m being fully honest, I sometimes think it would simplify things to be eaten.”

“Why wouldn’t you want the storyteller’s ending?”

“Well…” Linnea dragged her cloth shoe through the old straw on the floor in front of her.  “If I’m alive I must continue to make choices, and, therefore, mistakes.  Life doesn’t get easier after the kiss, just different.”  She sat up, shifting Hale against her chest and securing her skirts around her ankles as she drew them under her.  “I am so tired, frej.  I know it is wicked of me, but just now it seems easier to let the story end here.”

4 thoughts on “The Decision

  1. What was it you liked, Becky? The new names or the excerpt? ;)

    Don’t know if you really want this much, but here’s the full answer to your question.

    I spent time in the October before NaNo ’06 on, collecting Scandinavian names. The website breaks names into their (possible) components, defining the bits and pieces as you go along.

    This was very useful for me in adopting a number of alternate words– many because I just liked the sound of them (I pronounce the j in “frej” with the soft zh in genre) and their hint at another world. You follow this link through and can believe frej is related to the Old-Norse word for “Lord.” A very natural leap.

    The basis of Sarah (my sister’s name) has always been connected with royalty, and its “Swedish diminutive” Sassa worked it’s way through several spellings and pronunciations before I got to the title I now use. It was tricky because I couldn’t get over my (western?) need to “feminize” a word by ending with the open vowel, and my personal dislike for repeated sounds.

    That is, of my ladies, (Linnea, Runa, Lovisa…) Irene is the only major character who for whom “Sarsa” (my original word) didn’t create a sing-song echo of sound and/or syllable-count.

    Yes, Jay told me I obsessed over it too much, but any of you reading comments will know words are a bit of a sticking point with me. They do have to be *just right* or they get in the way.

  2. I liked the excerpt. Linnea is going to be a character I like, I can tell already, because she is so REAL, and not so fairy-tale as most, which I believe you intended when you created her. I think you’re successful.

    I also do like the alternate words, and yes, that linguistic explaination is exactly what I was looking for. Linguistic stuff like that fascinates me, which is one of the reasons Tolkien is such a favorite with me. My favorite college classes dealt with linguistic developments, ranging from History of the English Language to Advanced TESL.

    I pronounced “frej” the same in my head. Though I think it’s helpful for most readers to have a pronunciation glossary in a book.

  3. I love both the excerpt and the concept of using different words for the reason you say, although you will have to have your own mini dictionary for those of us who aren’t smart enough to figure it out by ourselves. :O

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