Want to make your fantasy world really fantasyish? Add in some -wyns, -yrs, -wys, with a sprinkling of gws and lls, just like the characters and places in The Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh folktales written down in the 14th century. Based on oral traditions that were older, they served as the basis for modern fantasy novels such as the Chronicles of Prydain, Evangeline Walton’s Mabinogi series, Tolkien’s Silmarillion, and Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising. These books were all written or republished in the 1960s and 1970s in the wake of the success of The Lord of the Rings. The hippy-trippy artwork for The Song of Rhiannon echoes those of the LOTR mass-produced paperback covers by Ballantine. (The story of the Mabinogi’s author, Evangeline Walton, is a fascinating one.)
The Welsh language itself is the oldest in Britain and derives from the Celtic languages of ancient Europe. It has no connection with the Latin language group that later produced French, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian, or the Germanic language group on which present day English is based. In the English speaking world, it’s an odd duck of a language. It was widely used until the time of Henry VIII, who famously outlawed it in favor of English as the unifying language for his kingdom. From then it almost faded from view, but experienced a revival of sorts from those who wanted to celebrate their Welsh heritage, not erase it. Today in Wales you will see street signs in both languages.
As in a lot of languages, proper names in Welsh meant something. The awkward sounding Bloeudwedd meant “flower-face,” perhaps a reference to the barn owl, while Arianrhod was “silver ring” and Alwyn “elf-friend.” Note that the names I randomgenned below only sound Welsh; to a speaker of that language, they are likely gibberish.
Welsh Names (Male)