Black Butterfly's Name


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We have the translation of Black Butterfly's proper name into English, but what is missing is her actual proper name in a Golarion language. This thread is a petition to Paizo to give Black Butterfly an official proper name which is not merely an English translation of her actual proper name.

Xephiqali (zeh-fih-KAHL-ee) is my proposal for Black Butterfly's proper name; I derived it from an amalgamation of Mazahua, Hindi, and Azerbaijani words meaning "butterfly" and "black" [with additional spelling influence from Greek], so the name Xephiqali effectively translates as "Black Butterfly". For the Golarion language from which the name Xephiqali comes, Celestial seems like the obvious choice.

If fellow pathfinders agree that Black Butterfly needs an actual proper name in a Golarion language that is not merely the English translation of her actual proper name, here is the place to let your thoughts be known. (As this is a petition, thread necromancy is welcome.)

Shadow Lodge

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I've also recognized this problem. I have a character from Arcadia who follows her. Name I use for her is Calamisa. It's a type of south american butterfly with very appropriate looks.


Why couldn't her name just be Black Butterfly?


thistledown wrote:
I've also recognized this problem. I have a character from Arcadia who follows her. Name I use for her is Calamisa. It's a type of south american butterfly with very appropriate looks.

I do like Calamisa, for your stated reasons, and for the fact that cala- is close to the Hindi word kala meaning "black", though the closest to -misa I can find for "butterfly" is the Zapotec word mitet.


Yqatuba wrote:
Why couldn't her name just be Black Butterfly?

The problem with the English words "Black Butterfly" as a proper name is that the English language does not exist on Golarion. What is her name in her native Celestial language? Hence, I proposed that Xephiqali be the Celestial name which translates to English as "Black Butterfly".


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I won't deny she could use something a bit snappier, but I'm not really wild about the proposed name... mostly because it tries to adhere to essentially arbitrary linguistic conventions by pulling from real world languages in its efforts to escape a name written in a real-world language.

I also like the idea that a silent goddess has a commonly used name that probably isn't her real one... it's not like she's going to say anything.


Cole Deschain wrote:
I won't deny she could use something a bit snappier, but I'm not really wild about the proposed name... mostly because it tries to adhere to essentially arbitrary linguistic conventions by pulling from real world languages in its efforts to escape a name written in a real-world language.

Do you know of a resource with which we could translate black and butterfly into the fictional Celestial language?

Silver Crusade

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Just call her Der Schwarzer Schmetterling.


I figured that her actual personal name is something no one knows (or those who do aren't telling). All of her mortal worshippers just call her "the Black Butterfly" in whatever their local tongue is.

I mean, considering no one knows where her realm is or what it's like it's likely she keeps things extremely close to her vest.

I mean, considering the (popular and textually supported but not confirmed) that Desna is an eldritch horror/outer god who just happens to genuinely like people, it's conceivable that the BB's original name was something like "Iuc'tholth'axz" in Aklo. Something no one is particularly inclined to share, since it sends the wrong idea.


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Gorbacz wrote:

Just call her Der Schwarzer Schmetterling.

Or "Den Sorte Sommerfugl". :)


Gorbacz wrote:
Just call her Der Schwarzer Schmetterling.

*Schwarze

Or you treat "Schwarzer Schmetterling" as her definite name without the article. (Which is my way of doing it because she's female and 'der' is the definite masculine article.)

Although I'd say her real name is Desna.


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Thanateros wrote:
Do you know of a resource with which we could translate black and butterfly into the fictional Celestial language?

Are we certain that she thinks of herself "Black Butterfly" in her head? I mean, she's obviously a quiet, enigmatic reflection/spawn/unfettered dream of Desna. Calling her Ansed is just as friggin' valid, really, albeit a little 1980s.

Black Butterfly always struck me as a name given to her by others, which she didn't really care to contradict.

EDIT: Note for the record that I regard "Ansed" as a GODAWFUL name and won't be using it, but I used it to illustrate a point.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
All of her mortal worshippers just call her "the Black Butterfly" in whatever their local tongue is.

I would love to know the name by which the aasimar of Tianjing call her in their local tongue.

PossibleCabbage wrote:

I mean, considering the (popular and textually supported but not confirmed) that Desna is an eldritch horror/outer god who just happens to genuinely like people, it's conceivable that the BB's original name was something like "Iuc'tholth'axz" in Aklo. Something no one is particularly inclined to share, since it sends the wrong idea.

I am very fond of the implications that Black Butterfly is actually another Good-aligned eldritch "horror", so I rather like the notion of her tiefling clerics secretly acknowledging her as something like "Iuctholthaxz"; secrets dwell in silence.


Cole Deschain wrote:
I won't deny she could use something a bit snappier

I am genuinely interested in what snappier name you would come up with.


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Thanateros wrote:
I am genuinely interested in what snappier name you would come up with.

Probably just string together some syllables I like that wouldn't necessarily mean anything.

Start it with an L, end it with an A, and decorate that space between as desired.


Cole Deschain wrote:
Thanateros wrote:
Do you know of a resource with which we could translate black and butterfly into the fictional Celestial language?

I always thought Celestial would sound like Hebrew. Anyone know the Hebrew words for black and butterfly?


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According to Google, it's

פרפר שחור

You're welcome.


Yqatuba wrote:
I always thought Celestial would sound like Hebrew. Anyone know the Hebrew words for black and butterfly?

Given that Judeochristianity is the popular mythology among the Anglosphere, I can see why you would default to Hebrew as a source for Celestial words.

A good resource for translations is Wiktionary Translations.


Going from Wiktionary it's either sh'khorá parpar or parpar sh'khora (not sure if the adjective goes before or after the noun in Hebrew).


Yqatuba wrote:
Going from Wiktionary it's either sh'khorá parpar or parpar sh'khora (not sure if the adjective goes before or after the noun in Hebrew).

Given that you are creating a name in a fictional language which has no published grammar, do not limit yourself to the grammar of a source language which you do not even know; allow your aesthetic preferences to influence your creation of words in a fictional language. My aesthetics would say to deduplicate parpar and to end with an -a, as Parshakóra.


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I rather like the name The Black Butterfly, it lends an air of mystery usually reserved for villians.

Silver Crusade

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Thanateros wrote:
We have the translation of Black Butterfly's proper name into English, but what is missing is her actual proper name in a Golarion language.

*slowly tilts head to the side*

Silver Crusade

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Thanateros wrote:
My aesthetics would say to deduplicate parpar and to end with an -a, as Parshakóra.

That's a Polish ó, Czech/Slovak/Hungarian ó, Faroese ó, Icelandic ó, Irish ó, Kazakh ó, Sorbian ó, Vietnamese ó or just some accent/stress mark (if yes, which one?).


Thanateros wrote:
My aesthetics would say to deduplicate parpar and to end with an -a, as Parshakóra.
Gorbacz wrote:
That's a Polish ó, Czech/Slovak/Hungarian ó, Faroese ó, Icelandic ó, Irish ó, Kazakh ó, Sorbian ó, Vietnamese ó or just some accent/stress mark (if yes, which one?).

That question seems playfully trollish, but I will answer it anyway... On Wiktionary.org one of the two transliterated translations of black into Hebrew is shakhór; I simply copied and pasted that.


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I always thought that it was 'black butterfly' because that was how the silent empyreal power was described.

it's not like Mothra ever spoke. Maybe Nyarlathotep ate Black Butterfly's tiny twin sister-voices.


Yakman wrote:
I always thought that it was 'black butterfly' because that was how the silent empyreal power was described.

The problem with "black butterfly" is that those are English words, which is a language which does not exist on Golarion. What syllables would you hear coming from the mouths of Tianjing aasimar as they utter her name in their local Celestial language? If we are going to refer to her by a name which comes from an Earth language, we should probably call her Itzpapalotl, who is an Aztec tzitzimitl star goddess whose name could be translated as "Black Butterfly".


I figure it's the same problem as Lucerne Hammers. Obviously the people in the diagesis aren't calling those "Lucerne Hammers" (being that Golarion doesn't have a Switzerland), we're just substituting "Lucerne Hammer" for whatever the person speaking Dwarvish would call it, since we can't actually speak any of these fantasy languages.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
I figure it's the same problem as Lucerne Hammers. Obviously the people in the diagesis aren't calling those "Lucerne Hammers" (being that Golarion doesn't have a Switzerland), we're just substituting "Lucerne Hammer" for whatever the person speaking Dwarvish would call it, since we can't actually speak any of these fantasy languages.

I am an order of magnitude more forgiving of a common noun such as Lucerne hammer than I am of an absence of a proper Golarion name for a deity; not having the name of a deity rendered in a Golarion language breaks immersion for me more than any common noun in English could.


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Thanateros wrote:
The problem with "black butterfly" is that those are English words, which is a language which does not exist on Golarion. What syllables would you hear coming from the mouths of Tianjing aasimar as they utter her name in their local Celestial language? If we are going to refer to her by a name which comes from an Earth language, we should probably call her Itzpapalotl, who is an Aztec tzitzimitl star goddess whose name could be translated as "Black Butterfly".

Since Tien characters talk about swords, horses, war, rice, and so forth in English when I have them show up (because, after all, it's not as if Tien is a real language that one can learn, and most of us aren't going to clumsily slot in Mandarin/Cantonese/Japanese/Korean/Tagalog/Mongolian/Vietnamese substitutes), having them call her "Black butterfly" doesn't break my immersion nearly as much as trying to cram a Nahuatl word into the mouth of someone from a fantasy analogue for East Asia...


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Cole Deschain wrote:
Since Tien characters talk about swords, horses, war, rice, and so forth in English when I have them show up (because, after all, it's not as if Tien is a real language that one can learn, and most of us aren't going to clumsily slot in Mandarin/Cantonese/Japanese/Korean/Tagalog/Mongolian/Vietnamese substitutes), having them call her "Black butterfly" doesn't break my immersion nearly as much as trying to cram a Nahuatl word into the mouth of someone from a fantasy analogue for East Asia...

Shhhh. This isn't one of those rational things. I mean, The Whispering Tyrant is in English and The Lost Coast is too. Blah blah The Rusty Dragon, The Star Stone, Hell, The Abyss, The Darklands, Five Kingdom Mountains, Lastwall, The Shackles, The Sodden Lands, The Worldwound, and - you know - Inner Sea itself. Nobody here wants to accept that what we read in rulebooks is fantasy "translated" from in-setting languages. That'd take away the "fun". Or something.


Thanateros wrote:
If we are going to refer to her by a name which comes from an Earth language, we should probably call her Itzpapalotl, who is an Aztec tzitzimitl star goddess whose name could be translated as "Black Butterfly".
Cole Deschain wrote:
...having them call her "Black butterfly" doesn't break my immersion nearly as much as trying to cram a Nahuatl word into the mouth of someone from a fantasy analogue for East Asia...

The fact that the name Itzpaplotl comes loaded with cultural associations for anyone familiar with Aztec mythology does admittedly make its acceptance as a word in the Celestial language potentially awkward, which is why I had coined an original name (Xephiqali) free from such cultural associations. I like the fact that Thistledown's suggestion of Calamisa was already in use in at least one Pathfinder game though.


Anguish wrote:
The Whispering Tyrant is in English and The Lost Coast is too. Blah blah The Rusty Dragon, The Star Stone, Hell, The Abyss, The Darklands, Five Kingdom Mountains, Lastwall, The Shackles, The Sodden Lands, The Worldwound, and - you know - Inner Sea itself.

At least the Whispering Tyrant has a published proper name, Tar-Baphon. None of your other examples are deities, or even sentient beings, and I find that none of your examples bother me; so far only a deity lacking a proper name in a Golarion language bothers me. Thank you for helping to define the scope of what bothers me.

Silver Crusade

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Do you have a link handy to any dictionaries in Golarion languages?


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Thanateros wrote:
The fact that the name Itzpaplotl comes loaded with cultural associations for anyone familiar with Aztec mythology does admittedly make its acceptance as a word in the Celestial language potentially awkward, which is why I had coined an original name (Xephiqali) free from such cultural associations. I like the fact that Thistledown's suggestion of Calamisa was already in use in at least one Pathfinder game though.

But it's not free from the linguistic associations that would make the name sound so odd coming from someone whose language doesn't even use the sounds involved- Pathfinder has no apparent issues with cultural associations- Abraxas, Mephistopheles, the entire ancient Osiriani pantheon, Ahriman, and so forth.

Next question...

Are you equally bothered by The Lantern King (Eldest), The Green Mother (Eldest), Vermilion Mother (Sahkil Tormentor), The Lost Prince (Eldest), The Speakers of the Depths (Protean... stuff), and Grandmother Spider (Southern Garundi goddess of some nice little spider-people I don't think we're going to get PF1 stats for, alas)?

Shadow Lodge

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Cole Deschain wrote:
Are you equally bothered by The Lantern King (Eldest), The Green Mother (Eldest), Vermilion Mother (Sahkil Tormentor), The Lost Prince (Eldest), The Speakers of the Depths (Protean... stuff), and Grandmother Spider (Southern Garundi goddess of some nice little spider-people I don't think we're going to get PF1 stats for, alas)?

Actually, adding 'The' in front of it does make a big difference to me. Saying 'My character worships The Black Butterfly' doesn't sound nearly so jarring to me as saying 'My character worships Black Butterfly'. So yes, Vermilion Mother bothers me. Grandmother Spider feels ok though.

But then, my complaint comes more from a speech patterns / forms of address viewpoint than a linguistics viewpoint like Thanateros seems to hold.


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Regarding the eldest, a thing I like to do with the Fey is to have this be a place where knowing a being's "true name" gives you some measure of power over them, so the most powerful Fey have taken great lengths to obscure this information and instead are known to all via a series of titles and sobriquets.

Like Shyka is not a name, it's a title. Shyka's name is "the name of whatever being happens to be Shyka at the moment you are addressing them". Since Shyka will change identity mid-sentence (if not mid-syllable), this is essentially impossible to nail down.


Peacock Spirit says hello. Or quack, or something.


Mudfoot wrote:
The Peacock Spirit says hello. Or quack, or something.

Fixed that for you. ;)

Let's not rub thisledown up the wrong way...

Oh, & peafowl 'scream', apparently...

:p


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Regarding the eldest, a thing I like to do with the Fey is to have this be a place where knowing a being's "true name" gives you some measure of power over them, so the most powerful Fey have taken great lengths to obscure this information and instead are known to all via a series of titles and sobriquets.

See, I kinda think that's what BB is up to, on some level


Rysky wrote:
Do you have a link handy to any dictionaries in Golarion languages?

Hey Paizo, there'a a possible hint for a product.

Not counting the Elvish language, in the absence of said dictionaries I am usually happy to resort to using Chinese for Tien, Klingon for a tiefling language, or fabricate a word in the absence of available references, etc.

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Thanateros wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Do you have a link handy to any dictionaries in Golarion languages?

Hey Paizo, there'a a possible hint for a product.

Not counting the Elvish language, in the absence of said dictionaries I am usually happy to resort to using Chinese for Tien, Klingon for a tiefling language, or fabricate a word in the absence of available references, etc.

So you don't like a name being in English so you want to switch it to a "Golarion" name... and by that you mean something foreign to English readers.


Cole Deschain wrote:
Are you equally bothered by The Lantern King (Eldest), The Green Mother (Eldest), Vermilion Mother (Sahkil Tormentor), The Lost Prince (Eldest)...
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Regarding the eldest, a thing I like to do with the Fey is to have this be a place where knowing a being's "true name" gives you some measure of power over them, so the most powerful Fey have taken great lengths to obscure this information and instead are known to all via a series of titles and sobriquets.

The notion of Fey hiding their True Names is intriguing.


Rysky wrote:
So you don't like a name being in English so you want to switch it to a "Golarion" name... and by that you mean something foreign to English readers.

Ideally it would not be merely "something foreign to English readers", but in the absence of ideal resources one has to use the best of the available resources (with "best" being admittedly subjective).

Shadow Lodge

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Animism wrote:
Mudfoot wrote:
The Peacock Spirit says hello. Or quack, or something.

Fixed that for you. ;)

Let's not rub thisledown up the wrong way...

Oh, & peafowl 'scream', apparently...

:p

Oh, indeed they do. The video doesn't quite do justice to how LOUD they are.

Dark Archive

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Xephiqali and Calamisa are both neat-sounding alternatives. I don't really mind either way (and am bemused by those who are passionately crapping on your idea, as if your idea ran over their cat or something), and also like the notion that some gods, like some Eldest, avoid using 'real names' and prefer titles and superlatives.

Drawing from games where the same god can have different names or titles based on the region (Dragonlance, The Northlands, etc.) it could be neat to present some gods who are similarly known by just a title among the elves, and a proper 'name' among their southern continent human worshippers, and yet another proper name to their northern continent human worshippers.

Heck, going back to Greyhawk, where Wee Jas, for instance, was a little bit LN and a little bit LE, different churches of a specific god might focus rather exclusively on a certain interpretation (alignment, domains, areas of concern) of a specific god. A hospital dedicated to the 'goddess of midwives' aspect of Pharasma might be staffed by purely NG clerics of the goddess, and follow a far more kindly and supportive interpretation of her dogma than popular among more NE and LN and true N faithful, all stern and judgmental and disapproving of their charitable works and 'lead by example' ways. If this hospital calls Pharasma by one of her 'other names,' it's entirely possible that a foreigner to the area might not even recognize them as being devoted to Pharasma, since their tenets focus on one of her less-popularized areas of concern (Birth) than 'grr, kill alla undead' and 'life is pain, death is holy, hurry up and die and don't have any fun on the way to the grave.'

[tangent] And yeah, peacocks are super-loud and sound like a woman being murdered. Creepy! [/tangent]


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Thanateros wrote:
At least the Whispering Tyrant has a published proper name, Tar-Baphon. None of your other examples are deities, or even sentient beings, and I find that none of your examples bother me; so far only a deity lacking a proper name in a Golarion language bothers me. Thank you for helping to define the scope of what bothers me.

Heh. When being arbitrary, it helps to be specifically arbitrary. <Grin>


So hypothetically you could have a being whose true name is impossible to pronounce by everybody on Golarion (it requires more heads than anybody's got, say). It's also possible that being happens a god or demigod, who has followers that cannot pronounce the actual name of that being.

So if the Black Butterflies actual name is some combination of the discordant atonal screams of a thousand mouths, it would be hard to print that and nobody would call her that anyway.


thistledown wrote:
Animism wrote:
Mudfoot wrote:
The Peacock Spirit says hello. Or quack, or something.

Fixed that for you. ;)

Let's not rub thisledown up the wrong way...

Oh, & peafowl 'scream', apparently...

:p

Oh, indeed they do. The video doesn't quite do justice to how LOUD they are.

Heh. That's pretty neat!

Although perhaps I should amend 'scream' to 'wail'...?
(Some of those clips sounded like a poor baby or lost toddler... <shudder>)

Thanks for the educational video! ;)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Not every one of our outsider demigods has a nonsense word for a name. A rare few, like Black Butterfly, Nightripper, Treerazer, the Lantern King, the Green Mother, and the Lost Prince are generally referred to by descriptive names instead. Feel free, of course, to have their names change in your game if you wish, but this is a deliberate choice on our part to mix up naming conventions now and then for demigods for various reasons (be they like Black Butterfly's true name being difficult to spell using letters or Treerazer preferring that particular name for himself since that's what he chose to call himself or anything in between).

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