In last weeks’ Worldbuilding Wednesday I took a look at the etymology of Prunaprismia and how other women of Telmar might have been named. This week, I’ll look at the men.
I think Lewis designed his names with French and Spanish in mind. The pronunciation of them, glottal and oily, recalls spoken Italian as well. There’s satire packed in them with how unpleasant they sound — Glozelle, Rhoop, Mavramorn — which harks to a cultural animosity only a native Britisher could understand. Caspian is the most normal of any of them. But even as a child I thought the character’s name was a big question mark. What’s a Russian lake doing in Narnia? But I think Lewis just liked the sound of it. (The relationship between boy-Caspian and the real-world one was never explained or even mentioned, which is odd because children of Lewis’s generation were expected to know their geography.) The -ian at the end of the name denotes “of” or “belonging to” in Armenian, so logic dictates that centuries ago there was a Casp or Caspin who founded this line. Some other names, like the tongue-twisting Sopespian, follow this form, so we can deduce that men’s names were short, no more than two syllables, and fairly simple: Sopesp.
Rh is another distinguishing mark of these names and one that harks back to German. Lord Rhoop and Rhince both use this combination. Since Rhince was a sailor in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, he was most likely one of the Telmarines who had chosen to remain in Narnia (and one who overcame his fear of the sea.) Another feature of Telmarine is names that end in z, as in the Spanish words Cadiz and Inez.
Amongst Narnia fans opinion is divided whether the Telmarine lords ** opposing Miraz in Prince Caspian are referred to in the text by their first or last names. I say these are surnames. Some could serve as either, such as Octesian. The names could also refer to ancestral lands or other places; at times it seems Lewis tore some pages out of The Worm Ourobouros with how outlandish they are.
Telmar itself is an obvious play on the Spanish del Mar, “of the Sea.” This is reflective of the nation’s founders, who were South Sea pirates from Earth. Lewis never mentioned a Western Sea or Narnian west coast in the books, despite what the wikis say.
Telmarine Male Names
** Includes “The Seven Great Lords of Narnia” — Bern, Octesian, Restimar, Rhoop, Mavramorn, Revilian, and Argoz — as well as Belisar, Uvilas, Arlian, Erimon, and the Passarids, who seem to be a whole family.