Writers working around issues

Have you ever had a point where you really want to write a story, but you get stopped in your tracks by wanting to be faithful to the era?

This has happened with Achromatic, which is sitting on the backburner until further notice.

As I mentioned some time ago, I have had the story based on Cartimandua, the Queen of the Brigantes, brewing away in the back of my mind.  At the time, there were two prominent Celtic languages spoken across Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland.  These were Brythonic, which dominated the lands below Edinburgh and Falkirk, and Goidelic, which was spoken in Ireland and Scotland.

The issue?  There is little to no Brythonic translation sites available across the Internet.  If I wanted to be true to the England of the first century AD, it is practically impossible.

How to work around it?  According to Wikipedia, the Brythonic language diversified into sub-languages over time.  These were Welsh, Cornish, Breton, Cumbric and Pictish.

Cumbric and Pictish are officially extinct.

Cornish was a dormant language that currently has a passionate group of people (estimated at just under 560 in 2011) trying to reinvigorate it use.

Breton is not even based in England, having crossed the pond to France, where an estimated 210,000 people spoke it in 2007.

Which leaves us with Welsh, which is spoken by almost three quarters of a million people in current-day estimates.

Google Translate has an English to Welsh conversion module.

So, despite modern-day Wales barely joining Brigantes’ south-westernmost point, using this language is the most faithful I can be to capturing the era.

Considering the complete lack of information regarding the Brigantes prior to 43AD, when the Romans began their push northwards, that is an amazingly daunting clean slate to work with.  Even the historical names of locations don’t exist.

Amazingly daunting, but it is absolutely awesome to have such a blank canvas within historical fiction.  Justice will be done =)


9 responses

  1. Hey, DJ! Here you get me caught up in the story (and I thought we were in Wyoming or somewhere in the American West, with our cowboy hats on), and now you tell me you were aiming for points east! One suggestion about finding an easy “in” to at least Welsh and Irish–there’s a series of “Teach Yourself” books on languages put out by Hodder and Stoughton, and each book’s title goes like this: “Teach Yourself Irish,” or “Teach Yourself Welsh,” and they’re well-thought-of and well-done. It’s of course modern Welsh and Irish, but for more antique versions you can still find reconstructive textbooks such as “Introduction to Old Irish” by R.P.M. and W.P. Lehmann. The advantage of fudging it a little and using the (modern language) “Teach Yourself” series is that they come in easily affordable paperbacks from any good bookseller (or can be easily ordered through the same), and they’re very accessible. They originate in the United Kingdom, I think, so you should be able to get them where you are. But if you’re determined to use Old Irish and other such Celtic languages, the Lehmann book and others like it, which are serious scholarly textbooks, are available from a good library, and will help you if you really want to work your patoot off (but they come in hardback, and so are far more expensive, as textbooks generally are). Good luck–you’ve bitten off a mouthful!

    1. Thanks for the pointer Doc, much appreciated =)

      I know, I feel terrible about Achromatic getting put on the backburner. Not finishing what I start hurts a lot, but not doing justice hurts even more =(

      Cheers. It would be the second story I wrote involving the Roman Empire but not being about them. Maybe there’s a series in the making, ‘The Other Empires’ or something in a similar vein =P

  2. Perhaps you could just make it up and add in hover cars and stuff, only the most intense of researchers would notice and you could make a killing with the film rights as well.

    1. LOL that would make for interesting reading/viewing. Celtic gods and goddesses in chariots could work.

  3. Sounds massively intriguing, DJ. You’ll definitely have an edge with your passion to be faithful too. I have a friend who speaks Welsh too by the way, if you ever want any help in that area.

    1. Naughty me, never replying to the awesomest up-and-coming Sci-Fi writer!

      Hopefully your friend can tell me how far off the mark Google Translate is =P

      Hope everything is going awesomely with the ‘Haven’ launch and your other projects, literary of otherwise =)

      1. Thanks DJ! Launch has gone very well, thanks! Onwards to book 3 now ^_^

  4. Hi buddy. Im one of us. I live in wales and I’m working on the same subject. No coincidence. I’ll bet you think the same as me haha.

    1. I’m very jealous of you Paul. Would love to travel the UK and soak in all the awesome history. And your proximity to the Brigantes area must prove very useful indeed =)

      The Cartismandua project has been sidelined for a while, as I’m working on my own fractured fairy tale. ‘Princess Bride’ meets ‘Beauty and The Beast’ is the lofty ideal I seek.

      What’s your interest in the topic? Scholarly or as a novelist?

      Thanks for stopping by =)

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