So Much Latin

So I was working on creating a comprehensive guide to my galaxy. This week was about finally finishing up the map portion of it, naming the different systems and planets and figuring out why they were given that name.

And being a geek means, I picked to utilize Latin.

Four years ago, I took a year of college Latin. Humorously, my inner obsessive refused to let me get rid of the textbook or the Latin to English dictionary I had. I mean, it’s not like I was scared the information was going to suddenly become outdated. Nothing’s changed in that arena since before my great-grandfather was born so I was fairly confident of its reliability.

Anyway, I wanted to take a leaf from the infamous Divergent series and use real words with real meaning to describe my world. Some of them are words from other cultures, some are abbreviations, and all of the galaxy labels, with the exception of the galaxy itself, are Latin. It took me a minute to remember how declensions worked, but I like that there are planets named Caelum and Pacti among other things.

It’s difficult to decide how much you should borrow when trying to create something entirely originally. For some reason, stories still hold sway for us even if the only changes are a setting and an era. In this case, I’m borrowing not a plot, but a language and to a certain degree a culture. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong, but what if this is a gateway “borrow”?

Where should the line be drawn? How do you know if you’re applying enough of your own originality to justify shadowing something or someone else?

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