Friday, August 05, 2016

Totems of the Dead race/culture calques

Although the Totems of the Dead setting isn't entirely humanocentric, it mostly is.  The Feral Ones and the Skinwalkers are the exceptions; and they're mostly human, just touched with a bit of the supernatural (not unlike how I did it in DARK•HERITAGE to be honest.)  Because my MAMMOTH LORDS is based on a very similar premise (actually, almost the identical premise, plus Ice Age animals) I thought it might be fun to see what they did, and then compare it to my own "calques."

For those who don't remember me using it before, or who are otherwise unfamiliar with the term, calque is a linguistic word that refers to borrowing a phrase or from one language into another, but "translating" it rather than it simply being a loanword, which is borrowed as is without translation.  For example, in English, when we refer to Kindergarten, that is a loanword from German.  If it were a calque, we'd call it "kids' garden" or something similar, because that's what it means in German.  In Tom Shippey's wonderful book The Road to Middle-earth, he describes that Tolkien (both Shippey and Tolkien are linguists) used the concept to "calque" or translate, actual historical cultures into a fantasy milieu, so that the Rohirrim are, in fact, horse-riding Anglo-Saxons of the Anglo-Saxon period of English history—but slapped smack-dab into Middle-earth as allies of Gondor.

Robert E. Howard had already "calqued" (although naturally he didn't use that word) a number of cultures together to create the Hyborian Age; in fact, the Hyborian Age is just a big cobbled together patchwork quilt of calqued historical cultures.  For example, the Aquilonians are essentially the Carolingians, the Nemedians are the Byzantines, the Aesir and Vanir are the Vikings, the Cimmerians are the Gaels (both Scottish and Irish) his Stygia is ancient Egypt, etc.  Games Workshop also calqued the Old World in many ways; Bretonnia is medieval France, the Empire is the Holy Roman Empire, Tilea is Renaissance Italy, Estalia is an immediately post-Reconquista Spain, and you can easily imagine exactly what places like Norsca, Ind, Cathay, and Araby, for instance, are meant to be calques of.

Anyway, the races of Totems of the Dead correspond more direclty with what I'm doing with MAMMOTH LORDS because in both cases, they take a Hyborian Model and apply it to the New World at the time of the Viking settlement.  Totems actually does more than I did, because it's a slightly bigger, more expansive and varied setting than I am likely to develop—but not by much.  Anyway, we've got:

Amizani: Amazons.  I'm not sure why Amazons are associated with the New World, but Warhammer did it too.  They're a completely fictional thing taken from vague reference by Herodotus to what are most likely Sarmatian women.  I don't see any reason to have New World Amazons, so I have no corresponding group in MAMMOTH LORDS.

Arctic Tribesmen:  Eskimos, basically.  I'm using Inutos—a name borrowed from Lovecraft which obviously is similar to Inuit, to represent them.

Atlantean: In Totems, Atlanteans are not dissimilar to how they are presented in Howard's earlier Kull stories, although they still have a memory of the high civilization that they've left behind.  In fact, Atlanteans here are seen as refugees from political turmoil; Atlantis itself hasn't sunk yet and the threat of Atlantean invasion is one of the main conflicts of the setting.  In MAMMOTH LORDS Atlantis has already sunk, but it was a wicked, decadent place, and the Atlantean colonies on the southeast of the New World are meant to be more like the Black Numenoreans with even more black sorcery than they are any historical group.

Bantanu:  This name is very close to the actual group Bantu, and as such, it refers to an African colonization of the New World which is ahistorical, of course, in real life.  Totems also has the Bantanu as possessing a high culture that is largely dissimilar to anything that ever really happened in sub-Saharan Africa, but I suppose you could see them as similar to the Mali or Songhai Empires, but more "utopianized" in terms of art and refined civilizational features.  Which is, of course, a little bit ironic since those were Mande and Nilo-Saharic cultures, not Niger-Congo cultures, like the Bantu.  Whatever.  I have no corresponding group in MAMMOTH LORDS.

Buffalo Plains Tribesmen:  Referring of course to the Plains Indians, of various ethno-linguistic persuasions, but all of whom had a very similar economy and social and material culture, like the Sioux, the Blackfoot, the Comanche, etc.  I've got two names for them in my setting: Tatonkans and Nakota.  In theory, there should be many tribes that are only loosely affiliated, if at all, by similar life-style, but I doubt I really need to come up with names for all of them.

Desert Tribesmen: Refer to the cliff dwelling Pueblo indians like the Hopi and the Zuni.  I also include them, and have offered up the names Kayenta and Azani.

Eagle Coast Tribesmen: This refers to the Pacific Northwest coast indians; you know, the tribes that made the famous totem poles of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Vancouver.  I hadn't really given much thought to the PNW as a region that I was likely to use, so I don't have any corresponding group. Instead, I'll actually have "Muans"—Ainu-like people who represent the remnants of Kennewick Man-style pre-Indians.  From the other lost continent of Mu, of course.  Maybe they'll be responsible for Easter Island like heads too.

Eastern Woodlands Tribesmen:  For Totems, they went with the probably rather expedient lumping of the Algonquin and Iroquois groups as eastern woodlands tribesmen.  I've elected to keep them separate, because the ethnic and political tension between the Iroquois confederation and the more loosely (but also more numerous and spread through greater geographical area is an important dynamic of the Colonial period of America, and therefore what we actually know something concrete about.  The Ojowe and Saunak are the MAMMOTH LORDS calque of the Algonquins, and the Mowawk and Wendat are my Iroquois.

Grandfather Mountains Tribesmen: The Totems map of the continent only has one bit, young, craggy western mountain range, so it kinda applies to the Rockies combined with the Sierra Nevada and Cascades together; the Great Basin and American Southwest area that is intermontaine in real life is merely east of the Grandfather Range here.  In real life, the tribes associated with the mountains are usually the same tribes that are associated with the plains nearby—which was ecologically much more productive and fertile anyway.  I don't know who these guys are supposed to be a calque of, or if they're even a calque of anyone at all.

Ruskar:  Although the Russian settlement of parts of America, especially Alaska, post-dates the timing of the setting considerably (to the extent that it represents a "real" time to any degree) Totems has gone ahead and added what are essentially Cossack-style steppe barbarians to the setting.  It's actually a pretty fun idea.  I don't have them, but my "Vikings" have a number of other nations that are along for the ride—nations that were historically associated to some degree with the Vikings, like the Anglo-Saxons, the Gaelic guys, and the Rus Norse-Slavic syncretic culture.  I've got the Haestings, Angl-Saxons, and the Gaidhel, similar to Hiberno-Norse and Scottish.  Although initially dragged along in the shadow of the "Vikings", they've now arrived in sufficient numbers to have their own enclaves and whatnot.

Shenese: There is a lot of evidence to suggest that there may have been a limited Chinese presence on the West coast, which is what the Shenese represent.  I had that idea too, although I called them Fusangites, i.e., from Fusang, the Chinese name for what is believed to be a North American colony.  As with the pseudo-Vikings, my pseudo-Chinese colony is more of an established entity, and not merely an ephemeral beachhead.

Skadian: The Vikings of Totems.  I use Vendels as my name, with the alternate name of Norsmenn.  In Totems, they are posited to be three different subraces; the Oesir, the Einheir, and the Sea Wolves.  The first two are comparable to REH's split between the Aesir and the Vanir while the Sea Wolves are a more overtly piratical group.  I'm only going to go with one variety of pseudo-Vikings, but because I have pseudo-Anglo-Saxons and pseudo-Scots along for the ride, that gives me enough variety.

Southern Empire Tribesmen: The inhabitants of either Maztlani (pseudo-Aztecs) or Yuarcoan (pseudo-Incan) empires.  My setting doesn't go that far south.

Spirit Plateau Tribesmen:  I'm not exactly sure what these guys represent.  I'm not 100% sure what the Spirit Plateau represents (the Columbia Plateau, maybe?)  They seem to be Plains Indians but separated by religious tradition or something.  Needless to say, I have no real analog in my setting.


I also have an Arctic population that may be kinda sorta like Great Perm, except that I don't really know much about them.  I'll make them more or less a Finnish-Lapplander hybrid, call them Kvens, and make them refugees of Zobna, with their new land called Lomar (shout-out to HPL, yo.)

I doubt that they'll be major players in the New World, but I do have a handful of other Old World calques that may or may not make cameo appearances: pseudo-Turko-Mongols called Komans, pseudo-Byzantines called Komnenians (for whom some of the Vendels may have served as Varangian Guards) and pseudo-slav/cossacks called Kayazy.  And I might have Cahokians; mound-builder types, although I'm actually mostly thinking that they'd have been enslaved and culturally swamped by Atlanteans on the southeast Gulf Coast area.

No comments: