As I’ve mentioned in approximately 12,094,594,555 threads, I’m working ona fantasy novel. The first half of it is an urban fantasy, set in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1980s; this section, in turn, is divided into two, each of which is ed after the approximate dates the action takes place in (in other words, Section I is “November '83 to January '85,” and section two is "May 87 to November '87.)
The second half of the story is high fantasy; the two main characters travel to an alternate world in which the sun is a living creature (the Phoenix) which travels over this (flat) world once a day, resting for an hour at noon atop a great mountain which glows during the night hours–this world’s moon. I’ve recently reached the point in the story where the main characters have entered the alternate world. For reasons of parallelism I want to name the sections according to the dates of the Fabulous World’s calendar; but rather than use the words “winter” and “spring,” I’d like something more…I don’t know…suggestive. Subtle. (And I’ve already thought of hibernal & vernal.)
Thus I come to the SMDB, as this is the best repository of pointless knowledge I know.
Actually I don’t quite agree, though I don’t intend to use the good professor anyway. If I were simply to use a word J. R. R. used in his legendarium but didn’t coin–say “dwarrows” or “gnomes”–that is certainly not plagiarism. But if I used a word he coined and which the Tolkien estate has trademarked–say “hobbit”–then that’s another thing, and nothing I want to get into. I started looking for another word because I was thinking of calling the season “Winterfilth” but didn’t care for the sound, and also it sounded too Shirey.
To make my lost post more clear: I was trying to differentiate between plagiarism and copyright infringement. I could use a Quenya or sindarin word for winter & spring, for instance, and acknowledge in the text or some other such note that the words I was using were created by JRRT; that would not be plagiarism (since I wouldn’t be trying to take credit for the professor’s work) but it might be copyright infringement (depending on whether I used enough to violate “fair use” provisions. Contrariwise, I could take a passage from, oh, Bulfinch’s mythology and publish it as my own, without giving credit to the author. That wouldn’t be copyright infringement (as the copyright has lapsed) but it would be plagiarism.
–Fab, who doesn’t care to be thought willing to plagiarize because of his own poor phrasing
I’ve always been very fond of the Spanish word for winter–invierno. It’s root word is invernar, which means to hibernate. More than that though, I like it because it sounds like inferno, and I think that’s very nice because sometimes winter isn’t so much cold as burning cold. Well, and the hell-freezes-over-thing.
Summer in Spanish is verano and spring is primavera, which I’m also fond of. (It’s also the word for primrose.) I think it sounds like “first truth,” but it doesn’t really mean anything of the sort. Taking the words for the seasons from another language probably isn’t the best way to go, but it’s someplace to start with the verbal gymnastics.
The OED gives me the following spellings for winter: wintra (CE 888), wintre (1250), wyntre (1377), wyntir (1450), wyntur (1460). Everything after that is pretty much the spelling we’re used to. I’ve got to run right now, but if you’d like to pursue that vein with any other words and don’t have access to the OED, let me know. I’m just filling time between finals this week.
Hey, I wasn’t suggesting she just lift Tolkien’s calendar of course, just that it was an interesting calendar that was invented to fit into a fantasy world. Meaning that the calendar can’t be today’s Gregorian calendar, but it should evoke whatever setting it’s supposed to be from. So Tolkien’s calendar is all Anglo-Saxon in flavor. You don’t want to just take an ancient calendar either, but use words that sound like they could have been used then.
Also, don’t forget that not every calendar should have four seasons. Some could have 2 or 3 or 5 or 6. And spring-summer-fall-winter doesn’t really work in the tropics. There you might have rainy season, dry season. Or you in cold climates you might have winter, breakup, blooming, harvestl, and locking. And give the seasons pseudo-latin or pseudo-norse names.
Given the cosmology you’ve described, why would your world have seasons at all? Or even months as we know them? Does your flatland tilt back and forth? Does the Phoenix alter its behavior over time? If so, how and why? Is there a reason for your “moon” to wax and wane over the course of a month? Also, there’s a tangentially related question–does the Phoenix fly east-to-west one day, then back west-to-east the next, or does it circle around out of sight?
I’m not picking on your world design–it’s a neat idea–these are just the kind of questions I ask when I’m designing a world with non-standard cosmology. Answering them might gives you some direction on a calendar. Tenar’s suggestions look like a good starting point. To expand on them, you might call summer “The Slow” and winter “The Swift”. That would lead to an oddly contradictory name for fall–“The Quickening”, a possible source of entertaining confusion for your protagonists. Spring might be “The Slowing”.
Considerations like these can offer little touches of verisimilitude, too. If the Phoenix lands on a mountain at noon, then it’s obviously much closer to the world’s surface than the sun is to ours. That means that its light will not be arriving in effectively parallel rays, like our sun’s. In our world, shadows almost disappear at noon, but that wouldn’t necessarily be the case in your world. At noon, objects east of the mountain would have shadows stretching out to the east, for example. Since your main characters are from our world, that could mess with their sense of time.