This is something that breaks the logic of fictional works in general. There’s this understanding in high fantasy (unless it’s based on a real life time period) that everything is being translated. But names have a weird place in all this. For example the name Rudolf come from the German root words wolf and proud. How does that make sense in a world without German? Normally we just go with the “don’t think about it” approach because that’s part of the suspension of disbelief. Unless you’re Tolkien and just invent new languages for fun. (insert virgin modern fantasy writer vs chad Tolkien meme here) But I generally take the stance that it doesn’t usually mater as long as your consistent and don’t bore the reader so much that they start questioning how German sir names made their way into the Fakelandian language. But the story i’m working on throws a wrench into that.

The story is a subversion of the portal fantasy genre’s tropes in that, instead of ending up in a video game inspired D&D knock off where they instantly become a level 20 main character, the protagonist is swept into a dark fantasy world that doesn’t give a crap about her and is full of things very likely to kill her. Anyway I got away with avoiding making a ConLang and having her learn a new language by having her come across a magic translator earring that travelers use. Problem is that all my characters have names that are either German, French, Old English, or Roman/Latin. It varies by the in universe country that character cane from. I again hand waved this by having the languages have similar syllables to these languages which lead me down a deeper rabbit hole.

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At this point I had eaten the size changing mushrooms and listened to that annoying caterpillar so I implemented another bit of world building about how the various worlds (long story short this is a infinite multiverse thing, it’s not a major plot point but it comes up in the backstory of a few characters) are connected by the collective unconscious and common themes and ideas tend to show up in most of them. So names, characteristics of languages, and things like the Tarot show up in weird places. There are more implications like the power of ideas and fiction have on reality and the question of what is really realtm that came out of this, but I felt like was about to vanish beyond the event horizon of my own anal glands the more I thought about it. Let me know how that idea makes you feel.

Once I had slayed the Jabberwock, I began to wonder if all this pretentiousness was worth the hand wave and excuse to not learn a imaginary grammar system and a new alphabet. So I jumped on that vest wearing rabbit and road back to ask this overly complicated question.

TLDR. Does a portal fantasy using names from real life languages lessen immersion and break world building? Also how do you get dragon blood out of denim?

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