More native planetary names by authors

by Lone Wolf


I saw your page about "Names in the Old Solar System" and since I am a bit of an amateur linguist, I always appreciate good naming in the descriptions of fictional cultures. Of course, not every author could be professional linguist like J.R.R. Tolkien who invents whole languages, but creating names with good ring to them and consistency in their background in my opinion contributes greatly to the believability of the fictional world and thus to the success of the story as a whole. You may have noticed that E.R. Burroughs is especially good at that in all his books and sometimes it's difficult not to believe that all those names, terms and designations don't actually come from some unknown language, be it Barsoomian, Amtorian or that of the Tarzan's apes.

So I decided to contribute a little selection of my own, presenting native names (mostly Martian, I must admit) of the planets of the Old Solar System from the works of several other authors, given in chronological order of their publication. Here it is:

Gustavus W. Poppe (“Journey to Mars”, 1894; “Journey to Venus”, 1895):

Names given by the Martians:
Atmu (?) = Earth (this name is not given directly in the text, but derived tentatively by analysing the phrase "atmu samvatasya aryuna" – “son of the earth-born race”, with which the Martians call Earthlings; Poppe concocts his Martian names and terms from Sanskrit and Greek roots, combined with other purely invented words).
Arios Vizulojah = Mars; Sudha Rohanza = Phobos; Sudha Aryuna = Deimos (the latter two most likely are supposed to mean “Red Moon” and “Silver Moon” respectively, although this is not explicitly stated in the text);
Luzio-Avani Dhramza, which allegedly means “Great Shining One” = Pluto (this is not “our” Pluto, not discovered yet then, but the asteroid progenitor planet, which the author names “Pluto” without any explanation about this and claims that it has been destroyed 6000 ago at the same when the humanity of Earth was created);
Bhama Kiszulia = Venus (here "bhama" seems to be taken to mean “planet”).

Aleksey Tolstoy (“Aelita”, 1923):

Names given by the Martians:
Tuma = Mars; Taltsetl = Earth; Ollo and Litkha = the moons of Mars (it is not specified which is which);

Curiously enough, in A. Tolstoy's novel Taltsetl-Earth is said to be a red star, having an ominous significance for the Martians. That is probably because once before the quantum physics there existed such an opinion that since the Earth's atmosphere absorbs the blue light from the solar spectrum, creating our blue sky, the reflected light should be shifted toward its other end and thus the Earth, seen from space, would appear as red.

Otis Adalbert Kline (“Maza of the Moon”, 1929-1930; “The Man from the Moon”, 1930; “Buccaneers of Venus”, 1932; “The Swordsman of Mars”, 1933):

Names given by the Selenites, some of which used also by the Martians:
Ma Gong = Moon; Du Gong or Dhu Gong = Earth; Lu Gong = Mars;

Names given by the Venusians:
Zarovia = Venus; Mignor = Earth.

David V. Reed (“Empire of Jegga”, 1943):

Usau = Mercury; Estannar = Venus; Kren = Earth; Boron = Moon; Jegga = Mars; Phylader = Jupiter; Ermos = Saturn; Hruthes = Uranus; Ania = Neptune; Darziz = Pluto.

Ray Bradbury (“The Earth Men”, 1948; “The Naming of Names”, 1949):

Names given by the Martians:
Tyrr = Mars; Iorrt = Earth;

{Comment by Zendexor: Many thanks, Lone Wolf - you have added much to my knowledge! I think my favourite of the above names is "Darziz" for Pluto.}

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Apr 19, 2022
Oops! My mistake
by: Lone Wolf

When I was reviewing this page earlier, I noticed that I have made one stupid mistake while quoting the Martian expression from G. W. Poppe's novel "Journey to Mars": there (in Ch. 5, p. 48) the Martian doctor addresses the protagonist Lt. Frederick Hamilton by the appellation "atmuja samtanasya aryuna", translated by the author as meaning "son of the earth born race", and not what I wrote above. I am sorry about that – I am getting old and especially scatter-brained when sleep deprived...

Anyway, this is the phrase, from which I derive the name "Atmu" for Earth, which the author never mentions otherwise. Here we have three words:
"samtana" – "race" (found also in the self-designation of the Martians: "Vizulojah Samtonarz"), derived from the Sanskrit word saṁtāna ("continuous succession, lineage, race") with added the Sanskrit Genitive suffix -sya;
"aryuna", which corresponds to Sanskrit name Arjuna, basically meaning "silver-white", but also having the secondary meaning of "the only son of his mother", probably some sort of metaphor. Poppe here takes "aryuna" to mean simply "son", but he uses it also in its basic meaning as the Martian name for Deimos, which he describes as a white moon; and then we have
"atmuja" = "earth-born", where can be discerned the Sanskrit root -ja – "to bear" (like in the similar sounding Sanskrit word ātmaja – "self-born, self-begotten"), but I couldn't find any equivalent Sanskrit word for "Atmu", which seems to be an invented word for "Earth", although as I said before, Poppe never uses or mentions it in any other occasion.

Thus Poppe's Martian language sounds more or less like Sanskrit, but it's not quite like it. For instance, there are imaginary words, containing the phonemes F and Z, not present in Sanskrit, the word order is reversed as the adjective goes after the substantive like in Latin and not the other way around, etc. But he doesn't bother to develop a complete language, but just takes some slightly distorted Sanskrit names and words, mixes them with Old Greek ones (for example "Arko-Basileus" – "Grand Duke", eidoliferon – "image-bearer" – a kind of television communicator, personal names like Asterion, Ascopion, etc.), makes funny combinations like "Maha-Dunamos" (from Sanskrit mahā- "great" and Greek dynamis – "force, power") for the "cosmic magnetic force", which moves the Martian interplanetary "ethervolt cars", and then puts some other words of his own invention. This way his Martians acquire in their cultural characteristics a kind of Oriental and Classic feel, although no relation to the respective Earth civilizations is alluded.

As for the Bradbury's names, it is noticeable, that they sound vaguely Germanic. Thus "Tyrr" resembles the Old Norse Týr (= Old English Tiw), which is the name of the Nordic god of war and sky, equated with the Roman god Mars, because of which the day of Mars in the seven-day planetary week was called "Tuesday" ("day of Tiw/Týr"). Likewise "Iorrt" resembles the Old Norse Jörð – "Earth" (= Old English "Eorthe"). I don't know whether this was intentional or pure coincidence, but it's quite curious. Maybe some unconscious process of word-creating was in work here...

{Comment from Zendexor: Impressive! Much more so than Leigh Brackett's rather too obvious and somewhat incongruous borrowing from the Terran Celtic heritage in her choice of Martian names.}

Apr 18, 2022
by: Dylan

Wow, this is awesome!

I've always liked "Tyrr" for Mars, and now I quite like "Atmu" for Earth.

I've never heard of a lot of these, I'll have to search them out!

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