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Old 04-27-2016, 01:30 PM   #1
ericthered
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Default [IW] Names and Ethnicities for Centrum

Quote:
“Chang, what’s your first name?”
“Mohammed, Sir.”
“That’s unusual for a Chinese,
isn’t it, Chang?”
“Sir, all names are Centrum names. The Centrum embraces all bloodlines.”
“Chang, I’m not trying to trap you in Error, I’m trying to make conversation so that you don’t hover there like a constipated goshawk.”
Chang relaxed another breath. “My family is from Tajikistan, Sir. Lots of hybridity there, even before the Centrum saved us.”
The duty officer nodded; history wasn’t her strong point, even Centrum history, but the Central Asian tribes were traditionally very grateful to the scientific elite that had saved them from famine, warlords, and plague. “Understandable then, border vigor and all that. Use those ancestral border skills, Chang, and see what jumps out at you from this.”
I'm running an infinite worlds campaign, in which centrum agents will be more than shadowy agents from the other side: I need names, personalities, hope desires ... I can get most of this from a variety of good NPC resources, except the names (and that's driven by ethnicity). Does anyone have a good base for naming folks from centrum? how english should names be? how thoroughly mixed should names be (Mohammad Chang)?

Thoughts? Solutions you've used?
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Old 04-27-2016, 04:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: [IW] Names and Ethnicities for Centrum

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
how thoroughly mixed should names be (Mohammad Chang)?
All I can say is: avoid names like Miou-Ting Plunq. ;)

On a more serious note, I'd get a few books on names across various cultures and mix liberally. A guy with a French first name, a Russian middle name, and an Indian/Hindi last name is just one possibility.
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Old 04-27-2016, 05:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: [IW] Names and Ethnicities for Centrum

There would obviously be lots of Western names & white people, though they might be more likely to actually be from Terranova or Terraustralis than Europe proper (which was likely hit hardest by The Last War). Though Centrans from Europe might be most devoted to the Centran cause, after the destruction of so much of their continent, while Terranovans & Terraustralians might have grown up 'softer'.

There would be way less Spanish names - in Centran history, Hispania explored the Old World (like Portugal, minus Brazil, in real world history). And Portugal seems to have never existed as its own entity.

A good question is whether the non-white, but all-Anglic-speaking, Centrans would still have non-Western names. That excerpt seems to indicate that they would - it might be the only thing that was preserved through the Anglo-French Empire, The Last War, and Centrum. But the names wouldn't 'mean' anything - Mohammed Chang knows next-to-nothing about the Mohammed. This would particularly true for Islamic names, as Mecca was leveled by the Anglo-French Empire.

There also wouldn't be many names that mean something in a non-Anglic language, particularly non-Western.


One group there likely still is on Centrum: Jews. Likely very secular, but perhaps not as secular as others, as Judaism has survived being a minority religion for thousands of years. There would still even be some knowledge of Hebrew (like Latin & ancient Greek). Though their actual names might not be so German-influenced; instead, Anglo-French (in the Middle Ages a lot of Jewish-German names were taken/given by where they lived).


Some regions would be particularly different from Homeline/real world. For instance, in Centran history Japan was conquered a few times (Mongols, Hispanians, Anglo-French). It wouldn't be the unitary society we have in real life, and there would be more Japanese of mixed ethnicity.

There would be very few ethnic Native Americans/Terranovans, and probably no Australian aborignees, in Centrum. There also wouldn't be Native American or Australian aboriginal names for places or people.

The few non-Western societies that could have survived with some culture intact, such as Tibet or Polynesia, likely wouldn't be Centran agents. Though there could be the odd iconoclast, who broke with his people's ancient traditions and is a fervent Centran.


Some regions would produce very loyal Centrans, such as Central Asia (saved by Centrum), maybe East Indies (first non-Terraustralian region incorporated). Meanwhile, some others might have less loyal Centrans, such as tropical regions of Africa & Terranova/America (less populated now, were brutally oppressed then). And there might even be some idiosyncratic regions, where the 'free-thinkers' come from - places not Terraustralis that survived The Last War intact, and only reluctantly joined Centrum, such as Argentina/southern Brazil region, or New Zealand (obviously they'd have different names).


Something to wonder: how does Centrum feel about homosexuality, not to mention transgender? It's not mentioned at all in the setting, but presumably Centrum would officially be okay with homosexuality, yet perhaps not with transgender (it would seem inefficient).
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Old 04-27-2016, 06:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: [IW] Names and Ethnicities for Centrum

Kate Monks' Onomastikon is a very good source of historical names.
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Old 04-28-2016, 12:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: [IW] Names and Ethnicities for Centrum

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Originally Posted by fchase8 View Post

Something to wonder: how does Centrum feel about homosexuality, not to mention transgender? It's not mentioned at all in the setting, but presumably Centrum would officially be okay with homosexuality, yet perhaps not with transgender (it would seem inefficient).
I would think the opposite, actually - Centrum can be officially antireligious without shedding any of the deeply ingrained customs of religious culture, and in fact that seems to be exactly its state. Consider the Soviet Union under Stalin, thoroughly antichristian yet utterly prudish, and calling the more open sexual expression under Lenin deviation. By contrast, transgender (at least binary transgender) seems a no-brainer...we could spend years trying to figure out what's gone spang in this person's head and correct it, assuming that's possible and has no important side effects...OR we can spend 6 months to a year reshaping their body and call the job permanently done. The second is the obvious choice for Centrum (among others).
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Old 04-28-2016, 01:02 AM   #6
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Default Re: [IW] Names and Ethnicities for Centrum

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Originally Posted by patchwork View Post
I would think the opposite, actually - Centrum can be officially antireligious without shedding any of the deeply ingrained customs of religious culture, and in fact that seems to be exactly its state. Consider the Soviet Union under Stalin, thoroughly antichristian yet utterly prudish, and calling the more open sexual expression under Lenin deviation. By contrast, transgender (at least binary transgender) seems a no-brainer...we could spend years trying to figure out what's gone spang in this person's head and correct it, assuming that's possible and has no important side effects...OR we can spend 6 months to a year reshaping their body and call the job permanently done. The second is the obvious choice for Centrum (among others).
But Centrum is also anti-racist, with basically no prejudices at all (except towards out-of-timeline Indentureds). Homophobia would be inefficient.

Ending homophobia would require a social transformation, but so would ending sexual and racial discrimination. While the U.S.S.R. continued much of the prejudices from pre-revolutionary times, Centrum seems to have broken much more dramatically. Also, Centrum's change was worldwide - even if a state wanted to end prejudice(s), it would still face them in other parts of the world.


I suppose it depends what kind of Centrum it is; Infinite Worlds leaves room for a range of Centrum, from enlightened meritocracy to socialist totalitarianism. It could go from free love to 1984-style repression.


Maybe Centrum officially anti-homophobic, but is sexually repressed in general. Sex is inefficient and leads to all sorts of problems (plus, the limited number of uniforms don't lend themselves to fashion). It's okay to be gay, but public displays of sexuality (of any sort) are 'frowned upon.'


Centrum might have quietly accepted transgender once it discovered the operation on other worlds. But it would be very rare, and without the concurrent psychological work, not very effective.

Besides, it's highly doubtful that Interworld or Uplift would have any transgender agents, just because they wouldn't fit in on other timelines.
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Old 04-28-2016, 01:43 AM   #7
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Default Re: [IW] Names and Ethnicities for Centrum

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Originally Posted by fchase8 View Post

Something to wonder: how does Centrum feel about homosexuality, not to mention transgender? It's not mentioned at all in the setting, but presumably Centrum would officially be okay with homosexuality,).
I doubt it. Centrum abandoned race prejudice as part of it's agenda to eliminate the dividing lines that can lay the groundwork for war. But the same drive to standardize everything would cause them to be strongly normative and unwilling to let people follow their own individual inclinations, particularly since population growth is going to be something of a Centrum priority.
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Old 04-28-2016, 02:18 AM   #8
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Default Re: [IW] Names and Ethnicities for Centrum

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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
I doubt it. Centrum abandoned race prejudice as part of it's agenda to eliminate the dividing lines that can lay the groundwork for war. But the same drive to standardize everything would cause them to be strongly normative and unwilling to let people follow their own individual inclinations, particularly since population growth is going to be something of a Centrum priority.
So essentially homosexuality would not be standard enough/deviating from normality too much to be truly tolerated?
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Old 04-28-2016, 02:41 AM   #9
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Default Re: [IW] Names and Ethnicities for Centrum

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So essentially homosexuality would not be standard enough/deviating from normality too much to be truly tolerated?
I think so yes. At least that's the route I'd take.
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Old 04-28-2016, 05:11 AM   #10
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Default Re: [IW] Names and Ethnicities for Centrum

At the same time, the Interworld Service would probably be a lot more tolerant than the general Centrum population of homosexuality - not only have they seen tolerance work on other worldlines, their study of Secundus would make them very familiar with McCarthy and Hoover...so long as homosexuality is unacceptable to the public, the loyalty of homosexuals becomes easy to compromise, especially when the enemy really is mostly ok with homosexuality. The solution is making it clear to homosexual IS agents that they will be tolerated and face no reprisals. That's a "rational" enough argument that most Centrans would accept it. They just would prefer not to loudly advertise it to other Services.
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