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Trying to come up with magical 'schools' for a game, and my goal is to:

  1. Use Ancient Greek, Koine if absolutely necessary

  2. Have words of generally the same length and number of syllables (not like, seven four-letter words and one fourteen-letter word)

  3. Have a Romanized form that is somewhat intuitive to pronounce (not like the Latin 'uu')

  4. Be categories of the same 'thing' at the same level of specificity. (Not 'air, water, diamond, fire' or 'mind, soul, feet')

With that said, my attempt is:

  • Hule - Matter
  • Kinesis - Force
  • Chronos - Time
  • Topos - Space
  • Nous - Mind
  • Pneuma - Spirit
  • Pathos - Emotion
  • Telos - Purpose
  • Moira - Fate
  • Dunamis - Potential

Do these 'go' together in tense/theme/level of specificity? If not, can you suggest better words/conjugations that fit the above goals?

  • 1
    Glad to see I'm not the only person here who is creating a game, although I've been using Latin rather than Greek, and the concept of "magic" is different. :) – Adam Sep 12 at 16:32
  • Latin and pseudo-Latin (Harry Potter) have been done quite a bit in pop culture. Good luck to you! – Carduus Sep 12 at 17:47
  • Very true! I thought it might work to my advantage in that there's more general familiarity with it. Truth be told, though, I would have chosen it either way. Good luck to you as well! – Adam Sep 12 at 19:53
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All of your translations look good to me! Some of these words have other common meanings, like hylē meaning "forest", but these are reasonable technical terms that I wouldn't be surprised to find in Aristotle or the like.

However, if you're going for the Ancient Greek aesthetic, I'd use the letter y instead of u for hypsilon when it's not part of a diphthong. At the height of the classical period, hypsilon on its own was pronounced /y/ (a front rounded vowel), so the Romans borrowed the symbol Y to represent it, and the convention stuck.

Similarly, I'd borrow a trick from J.R.R. Tolkien, who observed that English-speakers always mispronounce foreign words ending in an e. So whenever a non-English name ended in e, he would write it with a diaeresis ë. This didn't really mean anything linguistically, but it made English-speakers much more likely to pronounce the final vowel.

(Another option is to write ēta as ē and ōmega as ō everywhere, which for your purposes will only affect hylē and kinēsis. But that's a bit harder to type for most people.)

  • Another option which would have the same effect and corresponds to common transcription standards would be to write "hylē." In the OP's list that is the only vowel that would use the macron. EDIT: actually it should also be "kinēsis." – brianpck Sep 12 at 16:47
  • @brianpck Good point! Added a note – Draconis Sep 12 at 16:52
  • If you want to avoid characters that may be more challenging to type, you could spell the e phonetically, e.g. hyleh (or whatever spelling most closely matches the general sound). Is this a game where someone playing the game will hear these spoken to them, like in a video game, or something more like a table-top game where they'll read it and say it without being exposed to the sounds first? – Adam Sep 12 at 17:28
  • @Adam True, I have used Vh to indicate long vowels before, and it's unambiguous in Greek (where /h/ only occurs word-initially and arguably after voiceless stops). But forms like "Kinehsis" and "Sohcrates" take some getting used to. – Draconis Sep 12 at 17:32
  • @Adam I haven't decided which the player will be exposed to first. At the same time, I can't decide which is better: using non-keyboard characters like ē or making them look less elegant but more readable via y's, h's or double-vowels. – Carduus Sep 12 at 17:51

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