Sunday, September 19, 2004

Hari, Harisi, Haro, Hariso, and Harisoni

Okay, now I'm embarrassed. But it's not my fault, honest!

Back in 1989, when I finally finished my first draft of Heirs of Mâvarin, I had a walk-on character at the end named Harisoni. This mage's talent is sending people to what he calls "the subjective plane," there to learn about the universe and their place in it. I named him Harisoni as a riff on George Harrison, because Harisoni is essentially a mystic.

Since then, the character has developed into Fayubi's lifelong best friend. They run away to Mâton together as children, are roommates all through school, and stay in touch afterward. This is all backstory, taking place decades before the events of the first book. But when Fayubi gets in terrible trouble in Mages of Mâvarin, Harisoni turns up again as his friend and guide.

So anyway, six months ago I decided to shorten the character's name by one syllable. Y'see, mages get an extra syllable added to their names at their Robings, so having a three-syllable name in Mâvarin usually means that you're a mage. Because being a mage is not universally thought of as a Good Thing, most children are given one or two syllable names: Pol, Clif, Suri, Masha and so on. (A final a or e makes it a girl's name, and an i or o makes it a boy's name.) That way, when they're adults, nobody will think they're mages unless they really are mages, and their names really have been lengthened. This is all stuff I worked out years and years ago.

But Harisoni is four syllables, and the derivation is too obvious. So Harisoni became Harisi. Working backwards, Harisi's childhood name (and the nickname his wife uses) became Hari.

This was all fine and dandy until last night, when for the first time I wrote a scene that takes place decades before the first book, in which Hari and Fabi run away to the Mâton College of Magic. That's right: the kid's an orphan. Named Hari. At a school of magic.

It didn't occur to me until tonight that someone might be reminded of an orphan named Harry, at a school of witchcraft and wizardry. Aargh!!!!!!

So. I can let Harisi be Harisi, with a childhood name that was meant to evoke Hare Krishna but which can be construed as a ripoff of J. K. Rowling. Until I write the prequel, the character's always going to be an adult called Harisi anyway, having essentially nothing in common with that Potter kid except a lack of living parents. (When you're pushing 50, that's not terribly unusual.)


I can do forty documents' worth of search and replace, turning him back into Harisi / Harisoni. Maybe nobody will notice that he's a musical mystic with a Beatlish name and a quirky sense of humor. That'll work, right?


Sara suggested Haro for the childhood name. That way he becomes Hariso as a mage. The Beatle reference becomes less distractingly obvious, the Potter connection fades, and I just have to deal with the fact that I don't like the name much.

What should I do? People who actually read and like this stuff, please comment or email me (mavarin at your thoughts on this subject. Thanks!


Art by Sherlock

P.S. (Monday, 11:36 AM MST) Here's a thought. How about Hasi and Harisi? That follows the naming rules, eliminates the Potter connection, and leaves the character with his current mage name. Only problem is that Hasi sounds a bit like Jonny Quest's friend Haji. Whaddaya think?

And then there's this. Becky asks:

= How about Haru, Haruo... Haruo is Japanese for Spring and also my FIL's name. Haru for short. Or you could just change the first character of his name. Bari, Barisi, Barisoni...yadda. :-) =

I like both of those names, but they don't port well linguistically. Haru would be a monûn name in Mavarinû because of the final u, and the character doesn't qualify for that. (Baku is a monûn character.) The mage name would be Harusi or Haruso (does he sing opera?) or Harisu, which sounds Japanese but still follows Mavarinû nomenclature. Mavarinû doesn't have adjacent vowels, so Haruo doesn't work. Nice names, though. I could probably dump the distinction of the final u being ethnically monûn, but not without going through my character lists and seeing where things stand now in this respect. I have over 150 named characters, so every change has potential consequences.

Li's brother, Barselti, was named Barisi in an earlier draft. And yes, his childhood name / nickname is Bari.


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