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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 17th day of Eating, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 75 > Articles > What's in 69 Million Names and Counting?

What's in 69 Million Names and Counting?

by scriptfox

PET CENTRAL - After my last article on thinking up good pet names, I received some very nice feedback. Thanks to all who wrote! Several suggestions were made, and some were so good that I felt it was a waste to have them sitting in my mailbox when I could share them with others. So, following is what you, the readers, suggested, along with some more ideas of my own that you managed to spark.

First, a side note on the title. The last article I wrote mentioned 68 million names, and this one, just a couple of weeks later, says 69. Yes, pets are being created that fast! There are literally about half a million pets being created each week, so the competition for names is fierce... but your best hope is that most of those names won't use the methods and thought that you can put into it.

In defence
I had one reader write me, defending the use of numbers. They pointed out that some accounts will have numbers following them. You then put the same numbers after all of your pets' names, thus using your "number key" as a sort of surname. While this is true, I personally would try for an "actual" surname consisting of letters. Confusing, you say? Maybe not...

As another reader pointed out, using the underscore ( _ ) character is a great way to in effect add "spaces" to your pet's name. So, in our preceding example, you might add "_memine" to both your account and pet names, and it avoids both numbers and confusion caused if the letters are combined directly with the "regular" name.

I had one reader who challenged my comment that you shouldn't put more than two vowels or two consonants in a row. The reason I said this was not because there is a hard and fast rule that you can't do that (anyone with a good vocabulary could provide a nice set of examples of ordinary words using three consonants or vowels in a row), but that when you're thinking of random combinations, you will find it hard to work in a sensible three consonant or vowel combination. In other words, they may be around, but there's not enough three vowel or three consonant combinations to make it worth the trouble of thinking them up for your pet name!

More suggestions on meanings

There was a lot more to be said about my "method one - mangled meanings" than what I did, and this was pointed out to me on two or three different points. So, to continue where I left off, what other ideas can you use to create a good (unused) name that involve meanings?

  • A thesaurus. Don't have one? Well they're available online, so start hunting! A thesaurus gives you all sorts of possible alternate words for your pet's name.
  • Name meaning sites. There are places where you can find out what a name means. If your name is taken, try looking up its meaning. You could well find that there are other ways of saying the same thing.
  • Foreign languages. This works particularly well if you actually speak a foreign language. You will immediately have an advantage over the majority of users who use English. You know many names, words, and terms that you can use, and only others from your country (or other countries with your language) would be likely to use them! Don't speak a foreign language? There are free translator sites out there. I personally would recommend using some caution with them. They will translate what you give them literally, and you may find that your pet's name sounds neat, but that it has connotations that you didn't intend for it to have!
  • Another method that relates back to both of the previous two methods is to find root words in Greek, Latin, or other languages which you could use to create a meaningful and unique name. My pet MonoKeras got his name that way - it's a combination of a Latin and a Greek term.

Sources for names
Baby-naming sites! There are plenty of baby name sites out there, and they will often have the meaning of the names as well as possible root terms. Thanks to one reader, I can also assure you that there is at least one site that even includes a "random name" generator which gives you "nonsense" combinations that are often quite nice!

Color names. Sound odd? It shouldn't! Sure, you know about color names like blue, green, or yellow. But what about more obscure ones: alabaster, alazarine, azure, bisque, cerise, cerulean, chartreuse, fuchsia, gambroge, maize, mauve, saffron, veridian, or vermilion? There is even a color thesaurus out there, with 150,000 entries - I'm not kidding! (Whether there is an online version, I can't say.)

Want to get technical? Try hunting for sites that list specialised vocabularies for specific fields of knowledge. You can come across words that neither you nor anyone else has heard of, and they might well make a good name, with a bit of adjusting. Be sure that you're also comfortable with the original meaning of the term, though, in case someone decides to try and find out what your pet's name means.

Homonym is simply a fancy term for words that sound the same but that have different spellings (and meanings). If the name you want is taken, you could try substituting parts of it with alternate spellings that could be pronounced the same way. To help you, here are some suggestions:

Long "A" sound: a, ay, aye, ai
"ä" sound: ah, aw (or a short "o" sound)
Long "E" sound: e, ee, ea, ie, ei
Short "E" sound: e, eh
Long "I" sound: i, eye, aye (ah, if you want an 'accent' version)
Long "O" sound: o, oh, owe, oa, ou, eau, ow
Short "O" sound: o, ah, (or a "ä" sound)
"Ow" sound: ow, ou
"U" is either oo, eau or ewe, ew

Consonants are most easily changed by making doubles single, or singles double. Most of the time people will instinctively say them the same way. Some consonant transformations might be

s to z
g to j, or j to g (soft g pronunciation)
Th to T
c to k, or k to c (hard c pronunciation)
v to f, or f to v (NOT exactly the same, but possibly close enough)
x, ks, and cks should be just about interchangeable in any situation
y to i, or i to y

Then there are syllables that are pronounced the same way: -en and -in, for example. Other times, you can add "silent letters". H is a good one, and other possibilities are Y, E, and W. The flip side of this is deleting silent letters - changing "-ght" to just "-t" for instance.

To illustrate, try these variations on the name "firelight":


Or try "Stockings":


Ever play anagrams? I'm not too good at them, myself, but they can also be a handy way to come up with an unused name. The idea is to take a word and mix the letters into a different order. The beauty of this is that you have a seemingly random name with a perfect meaning: "Hi! My name is nairt - it's 'train' spelled backwards!"

Another good way to come up with a name is to create a phrase and use the first letters as an acronym for your pet name. This actually gives you the chance to create an "unpronounceable" name and get away with it - the meaning is the acronym, and you call them by their "initials" (which is what an acronym is anyway). There are a couple of twists on this: you could separate the letters with the _ character (both the period and the dash are illegal) or you could choose to spell it phonetically. For example, it's not "A_T_O_N" it would be "ayeteeohhen". If you want to do that, here's suggested spellings for the alphabet:

aye, bee, cee, dee, ee, eff, gee, aich, eye, jay, kay, ell, emm, enn, ohh, pee, qew, arr (or are), ess, tee, ewe, vee, dublewe, exx, wih, zee

Well, that's it. Thanks to everyone for the feedback, and I hope you enjoy these further suggestions. Better yet, I hope they prove useful. Just remember my warning: you use these ideas at your own risk!

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