-cræft and -mancy

This is something I’ve mentioned before on this blog and in various reddit posts, but it does deserve its own Playing with Language section. (Now if I’m feeling picky I can point here instead of repeating myself 😛 )

Pierre’s magic is not necromancy. He brings back the dead, yes, so why did I go through the trouble of calling it necrocræft?

First of all cræft is just the Old English version of the word ‘craft.’ I chose the Old English version because it A) looks cool B) differentiates it from ‘craft.’ (There’s a certain mystique to using letters we aren’t used to seeing [in English] in Fantasy, and while I know it can get over-the-top, I think it adds to the immersion here).

Necro means ‘corpse.’ A dead body. It also has connotations with dying, death, ghosts, and other such things. But the Greek is just ‘dead body.’

The suffix -mancy, though, comes from ‘manteía’ meaning divination. Seeing the future. Necromancy would therefor be the use of corpses, ghosts, etc to tell the future. Somehow over the years though it began to, in fantasy circles, be used as a catch-all for magic. Allomancy from the Mistborn series, for instance. It’s even a trope (which I may just have found out this second) http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Whatevermancy

Hence why I went with cræft. But I did it for the same reason a lot of people use -mancy: like tvtropes points out “This structure makes it quite easy to create names for branches of magic using just about anything you can think of. You use fire? You’re a pyromancer. Water? Hydromancer. Ice and cold? Cryomancer. It’s that simple.”

I do plan to have a lot of other magics in my world, often with the terms used similarly as the above. But with, say, pyrocræft I think it would be more than just fire. I want to use all the connotations of a word. So it’s less “this is fire magic, let’s call it fire” and more “this magic is about heat, change, destruction, the word that sums it all up best is fire.” Of course that discussion I think I’ll keep for Playing with Magic. (Yes, I seemed to have turned this into a whole series).

That said, the subtitles to all of the Larkspur Series books do involve the word Necromancer. There are two reasons for this- one, like I said before, we all know and understand the term necromancer. The term has changed over time despite the suffix. To be extremely pedantic here and use another phrase would just confuse instead of explain, which is the main reason for these subtitles.

Secondly I do have a scene in Delphinium where necromancy is mentioned. So it is part of necrocræft and being a Suitor of Death.

 

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