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Nomenclature in the Language of Balian


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Nomenclature in the Language of Balian

By Mariano Saturnino Ferraz 








Ave Imperium! 


The Empire that was is gone, but the eternal Empire remains, indissoluble by worldly mandate. The throne lies empty, but we hail to our Emperor as we await his coming. 


In the sands of Terra del Sur, the kingdom of Saint Lothar has emerged from the ashes. Those Imperial diaspora who toiled for that realm have since embraced a dual identity - that of the Balianite, the pioneer in the blasted south, colonising new frontiers under the auspices of the Lotharian cross. 


Viva al Regne!






There are several forms of formal address in the courtly language of Balian, each appropriate for a different context of speaker or listener. 




However, by far the most universally applicable polite form of address is that of ‘don’ for men and its equivalent ‘dona’ for women. This word can be prefixed to either an individual’s personal name, surname, peerage or any combination therein, and can be used both orally and in writing. It also doubles as a title. 


For example...


Don Vuiller


Dona Constantia


Don Castelorena


Don Mariano Ferraz


The direct translations of ‘don’ and ‘dona’ are ‘lord’ and ‘lady’, but this is fairly imprecise and a more approximate translation may be ‘mister’ or ‘miss’. This title does not inherently connote membership of the aristocracy (although it can readily be used for them) but is more so the bearing of a gentleman, and using it to address others is a display of polite respect. 




The words ‘segnor’ and ‘segnora’, rather than serving as titles, are forms of polite address. They are typically employed verbally and may be used when an individual’s name or status are not known - accordingly, they are never affixed to a name or peerage in the same way that ‘don’ and ‘dona’ are. In Balian, it may be appropriate to refer to these appellations when asking a question of an unknown person or when otherwise not referring to their name or title. 


For example... 


“How many florins for the woven carpet, segnor?”


“I request your favour, segnora.”


‘Segnor’ and ‘segnora’ approximately translate to the Common ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, however, this is not to be confused with the appellation for a knight of Balian (i.e sir, just as in Common). Much like ‘don’, a person being referred to as ‘segnor’ is no inherent indication of their ancestry or status. 




Another form of oral address used by the King of Balian for his noble-blooded peers and their families is that of ‘primo’ (or feminine, ‘prima’). This word is a gendered inflection of the Balianite ‘prim’, meaning ‘first’, reflective of the role of the nobility as ‘first’ of the realm as in the tradition of the lost Imperial Oren. It also approximates roughly to ‘cousin’, denoting the familiar connections between the ruler and his peerage. 


Similar to ‘segnor’, ‘primo’ is only ever employed in place of a name in speech, like the Common words of ‘friend’ or ‘brother’. It is not a title but a familiar (yet polite) form of address, and may be used towards subordinates or equals, but never to address an individual of higher rank.





Many of the personal names used in Balian are either cognate with or identical to the names of the old Empire, with influence from the bastardised Flexio of Terra del Sur. An interested reader can review masculine given names in the attached publication. 






In Balian, many aristocratic surnames from the old Empire are valued by their bearers, who are loathe to avow this part of their heritage. These surnames may occasionally be retained to signify these venerable familial origins - however, it is customary to add a locally Balianite flair as a suffix so as to display the adoption of the identity of the ‘New Country’. In doing so, the nobility of sun-scorched Balian walk the line between the past and the future. One of the ways by which this can be done is through the use of nobiliary particles. This, and other elements of Balianite surnames, will be explained in this article.





The most omnipresent nobiliary particle in Balian is a word with centuries of the same usage in the old Empire - ‘de’, which variantly translates to ‘of’ or ‘from’, and is used to denote affiliation with a place or family. This is the most common way of adding an element of the Terra del Sur to one’s existing surname, and pertains mostly to those members of a noble family who bear a peerage sworn to the King of Balian. 


The format can be summarised as...




For example... 


Carles Galbraith de Castelorena


Francesc Ruthern de Marsana


Helena Vuiller de Aquilae


The introduction of these local elements to venerable names signals the embrace of a new chapter in the chronicles of the Imperial diaspora as they chart their journey through the realm of St. Lothar.





A common concept across the human realms, a patronymic surname is one derived from the name of one’s father. In Balian, these are represented by the patronymic particles of ‘ver de’ and ‘ven de’, translating to ‘son of’ and ‘daughter of’ respectively. 


It should be noted that these patronymic particles are cognatic with the Naumarian particles of ‘var’ and ‘vas’, which bear a similar meaning and a common ancestor through Flexio. The ‘de’ can also be omitted while contextually preserving the same meaning. 


For example... 


Alfonso ver de Mariano

Alfonso, son of Mariano


Maria ven de Anselmo

Maria, daughter of Anselm


Anton ver Enric

Anton, son of Henry


Diana ven Francesc

Diana, daughter of Francis


As is the often case with patronymic surnames, these particles do not necessarily need to reflect one’s father’s name at a particular time, but instead can refer to an ancient ancestor. For example - in the case of the fabled historical figure Frederick ver de Linde of the Nauzica - his four-times great-grandfather was a man named Linde, the name being carried through the generations since that time.





Some surnames in Balian can be derived from a physical place, with toponymic surnames being adopted by their bearers as a tribute to these places for the purpose of further integrating into the burgeoning culture of the Kingdom of Balian. They may refer to a definite place (i.e Atrus) or a more ill-defined one (i.e ‘the mountain’). Similarly to aristocratic surnames, the word ‘de’ can be employed to denote affiliation, however, bearing a toponymic surname does not inherently connote membership of the nobility. Unlike in an aristocratic surname, the ‘de’ particle can be fully omitted while retaining the same meaning, however, this author has included it in all examples for the sake of completeness. 


For example...


de Atrus - of Atrus 

de Balian - of Balian 

de la Bandera - of the flag (A statement of patriotism rather than a true toponym)

del Barque - of the ship 

del Castel - of the castle 

de la Costa - of the coast 

de la Eglesa - of the church 

del Montof the mountain

de Monterosa - of Monterosa 

de Oltremont - of Oltremont (A province in the old Empire)

de la Ria - of the river 

de la Torre - of the tower 

de la Val - of the valley 


It is worth noting that those toponymic surnames that relate to nouns with definite articles are inflected according to their masculine or feminine gender. For example, as ‘mont’ is a masculine noun (‘al mont’), when combined with ‘de’ it becomes ‘del Mont’ as a toponymic surname. Likewise, as ‘ria’ is a feminine noun, combined with ‘de’ it becomes ‘de la Ria’ as a toponymic surname.


Somewhat confusingly, the patronymic particles of ‘ver’ and ‘ven’ can also be used with many toponyms in place of the ‘de’, ‘del’ or ‘de la’. This should be interpreted as the surname abstractly signifying its bearer as the ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ of a place.





Some surnames derive from the occupation of an ancestor, expressed in the language of Balian. 


For example... 


Arlequen - Jester or clown 

Apoteca - Apothecary 

Balester - Crossbowman 

Bruxa - Witch or vampire

Cazater - Hunter 

Condotier - Mercenary 

Ferrer - Blacksmith 

Mercater - Trader (In the sense of a travelling merchant) 

Nezier - Shopkeeper

Paneter - Baker 

Pescater - Fisherman

Recadater - Clerk or tax collector 

Sabater - Shoemaker 

Tessier - Tailor 

Vinel - Winemaker 


It should be noted that many variations of these surnames are possible, usually entailing the addition of a vowel at the end. For example, the related surname ‘Ferrera’ is a variant of ‘Ferrer’. These corruptions and variations of words connote the same meaning as these ‘pure’ forms, which are closer to the original Flexio. 





Some surnames are derived from a characteristic displayed by an ancestor, whether positive or negative. These characteristics are not required to be objectively true, and may have been originally adopted for self-laudatory or denigratory purposes. 


For example... 


Baixan - Short 

Bianc - White 

Bonaventura - Good fortune 

Casal - Home-loving

Giuvan - Young

Flor - Flower 

Lungin - Long 

Malanga - Mean-spirited 

Nerian - Dark 

Orsin - Bear-like 

Rosa - Red 

Sesto - Sixth son 

Vecha - Old 




Cognomens are related to characteristic surnames, but are technically not surnames at all. These are ‘nicknames’ for individuals based on a characteristic, achievement or perception that the individual has, and are not passed down in the family line. These are usually reserved for people of great public profile, such as monarchs, but can also be bestowed upon extraordinary heroes such as knights or adventurers. 


These nicknames are primarily adjectives or nouns. They are always conjoined with a definite article (al/la), and this article and the cognomen, if an adjective, are both matched to the subject’s gender. 


For example... 


Giuan al Gran

John the Great


Anastasia la Embruxata

Anastasia the Bewitched


Sir Ferran al Cazator

Sir Ferdinand the Hunter


In some cases where a person is extraordinary well-known by their cognomen, their personal name may be omitted entirely. For example, ‘Giuan al Gran’ may comfortably referred to in the shorthand as ‘Al Gran’.


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King John of Balian makes his way through a list of nobles making notes on their translated names, "A new age for culture and language shall be born in Balian."

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The Baron of Castelorena nods at the new well-written piece of Balian nomenclature published by the Censory "Excellent, my lords. May this be the start of a new cultural identity for the people of the Kingdom of Saint Lothar!"

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Dona Johanne Vuiller of Aquilae is pleased to see an addition to the previous language missive. She never did have the patience to attempt to explain her wording to foreigners!

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