July 8, 2017

Masters, Messieurs, Señori

"The Madame Countess Fiora Matilde Phillipa Geneve, Suzerain of Leah," declared the Court Marshal. The bead-eyed Countess strolled past him, followed by tittering retainers.

Across the ballroom, Erin stared at the Marshal, frowning. "Auntie, does he know everyone's name?" she said. "He doesn't have notes, or anything?"

"No notes, dear. It's his job," replied Auntie.

"Southerners have such awfully long names," said Erin.

"The Countess Geneve isn't a Southerner, dear. She's from the Isles. You could tell by that dreadful boy's haircut of hers, even without the name."

"Goodness," Erin mumbled into her wine. She continued staring at the ballroom's entryway. A party of men in grey uniforms sewn with articulated spaulders strutted through the gilded arch. Light from two dozen golden chandeliers glittered on the polished steel.

"Señor Commandant Niclao Nuflo Leon de Carro e Tevilla te Tordrid," said the winded Marshal, struggling to enunciate the last name with his remaining breath. The Commandant curled his thin mustache in a smile, passed a golden crown to the Marshal. Erin giggled, nearly spilled red wine on her powder blue blouse.

"That was a Southerner," said Auntie, nodding her grey head at the Commandant.

"Do they usually wear such tight trousers?" said Erin, goggling.

"The soldiers, sometimes. Watch out for that one. He's single."

"Oh," said Erin. Across the ballroom, the Southern soldier noticed her stare, smiled at her. Erin quickly looked away.

"Do pay attention, dear," said Auntie, squinting at the entryway.

A party had appeared below the arch. A thin woman in a gold-threaded black coat stood amidst it.

"Masters, Messieurs, Señori," bellowed the Court Marshal. "May I present Lady Miriellen Elizabethe Corona des Feronus, e Maples te San Carro, the Crowned Lord and Queen of Empereaux and its Sovereign Islands." He snapped his heels, saluted. "Long may she reign."

An applause of three hundred hands echoed in the cavernous space below the chandeliers. The Queen in black and gold bared her small, sharp teeth in a grin, waved.

"Goodness," said Erin.

"She used to be a member of the old Alagorian Court. When she refused to acknowledge the returned Aveth as God Imperator, they declared her an apostate, and–"

"And the new Court wants her blood. Nothing they can do about it here, though" said the Alagorian Commandant, smiling. He had appeared quite suddenly.

"Oh! Señor Commandant," said Auntie, flustered. "I did not see you. Allow me to introduce Erin of Grey, Heir to the Earlship of the Bay of Grey."

"Encantada de conocerla, Señora de Grey" said the still-smiling Alagorian, bowing. His thin mustache squirmed above crinkled, full lips.

"A pleasure, Commandant Nicolao," said Erin. At this, Auntie flinched slightly. Her cheeks flushed. The Commandant raised an eyebrow, grinned.

"Though I must continue to mingle, I look forward to speaking with you at dinner, Erin. We have been seated together," he said. He turned on his heel, still smiling.

They watched him go. Auntie puckered her lips. "Bloody hell, Erin." Erin frowned at her Aunt's flushed face.

"What ever is the matter, Auntie?"

"You addressed him by his first name. I thought you knew better."

"That's bad?"

"Well, I wouldn't say 'bad,' but it was very forward."

Startled, Erin glanced across the ballroom to the Commandant. He was speaking to the Suzerain of Leah, but kept passing glances back at her. She blushed.

"Goodness," said Erin.

"If you survive this dinner without dying of embarrassment," said Auntie, "we must get you a tutor versed in the complexities of names."


On the Coast, a person's name carries a host of information. It may describe lineage, loyalty, location, or any manner of significant ideas. Below are the primary customs associated with each of the Coast's three major nations.


  • Title 
    • In formal situations, a person must be addressed by their title or surname (whichever is most prominent) unless preference admits otherwise. If title or name are unknown, a person may be refereed to as Master. Titles are always gender neutral. 
    • If a person's title is unknown, but is suspected of being more impressive than one's own, the person should be addressed as Ser. This is a relic of knightly traditions. 
    • Occupational titles are omitted if a person’s surname matches their job. For instance, a smith named Smith may be referred to as Master Smith. 
  • Forename 
    • Northern forenames never end with an [a] vowel sound. Such names are incredible bad luck, and are thought to draw the wrath of ælves. 
    • Forenames may be used with permission, and nicknames are used only by the closest of friends. 
  • Surname
    • A family name. Common Firlish surnames are frequently occupational. Families of higher birth carry descriptive or toponymic surnames.
  • Byname 
    • A third, toponymic name. Bynames describe the place from which a person hails. Bynames may be omitted outside of introductory, foreign, or formal circumstances For instance, Rory Corder of Sorele or Ser Maltise of Down 
    • Nobles may possess multiple bynames, depending on their holdings and lineage. Only the most prestigious name is usually used. For instance, Earl Whilhelm of the Grey Bay and Dunarrow may simply be called The Earl of Grey. Individuals of sufficient rank may be known by their bare byname. For instance, the aforementioned Earl may be addressed simply as Grey, especially among fellow aristocrats. 
  • Address
    • It is appropriate to include a person's title, surname, and byname when writing to them and upon introduction. Forenames are optional. They are included if a family member or person of identical name is present. 
    • In the case that family are present, it is advisable to address the junior party as "Young Master." 
    • In a formal setting, individuals are addressed by their title and surname (or byname, in some cases among the peerage.) 
    • In a professional setting, surnames are used by coworkers. 
    • Forenames are used only in close company. 
  • Meta 
    • When searching for inspiration for Northern characters, choose names of Norse or English origin. Take care to remove Romantic or Abrahamic influence. For instance, the forename ‘Alberta’ would not befit a Firlish woman, and ‘Christian’ simply does not exist. *


  • Honorific
    • In normal, polite usage (or if a person’s title is unknown,) a person’s title is preceded by the Messieur (my master) honorific. Monsieur is the masculine form, whereas Madame is the feminine. Messieur is used only as a general plural (Messieurs) or by the preference of the addressed person.
    • Use of an honorific is a simple way to be polite or show added respect, in Empereaux. 
  • Title
    • In normal conversation, it is appropriate to address an individual simply by their title. 
    • Upon introduction, when being especially polite, or when addressing someone specifically, it is appropriate to use both a person’s title and an honorific. Example: “Good to make your acquaintance, Monsieur le Mayor” 
  • Forenames
    • Emperoussins possess up to three given names (more than three is considered to be poor taste.) It is impolite to address a person by any of these names without permission. 
    • When a child is born, a meeting (known as a nomenaission) is held by friends and relations to decide the infant's names. With commoners, this debate is a party; a time of celebration, bonding, and remembrance of the dead. In high society, a nomenaission is a debate. All manor of personal drama, political pacts, and financial arrangements may depend on whom the child is named for. 
    • Forenames are listed in full only in the most solemn or important of situations. For example: when being announced at court. 
  • Surname
    • Surnames are usually occupational, descriptive, or toponymic. When used without a title or honorific, they are deemed a more personal mode of address. Coworkers will address each other by their surnames. 
    • During a child's nomenaission, their surname is also decided. They will receive either their father or mother's surname, or the name of the mother's mother (this is traditional.) 
    • Surname's may change via marriage. Usually, it is deemed appropriate to take a person's surname if they ask for your hand in marriage. Thus, the person who posits the question asks their fiance to share their surname. 
  • Address 
    • It is appropriate to include a person's honorific, title, surname, and first byname when writing to them and upon introduction. For instance: Madame Docteur Aceline Aubrie Estee Sansspoir
    • In a formal situation, it is appropriate to address a person by their title/honorific and surname, or by their honorific and title (this is most respectful.) Docteur Sansspoir. 
    • In professional circumstances, it is appropriate to use either a person's title or surname. 
    • In personal, friendly interaction, an Emperoussin might be addressed by their favored forename. 
  • Meta 
    • When choosing names for Empereaux characters, draw inspiration from Francophone cultures and dialects.


  • Honorific 
    • The Lord or Lady (Señor, Señora, or the gender-neutral Señori) honorific is appropriate when addressing an individual of higher rank but of unknown title, or as an addition when extra respect is desired. 
  • Title 
    • Alagorian nobles may possess multiple titles. It is correct to use all titles which a person possesses when addressing them, unless one’s station is equal to theirs. Only the most chief title, however, precedes the person’s surname. Later titles are attachments. For instance: Princepalto Horatio Caravaggio Austorio, Primero de Saramori e Tandón, Secutor de Castile Bennedetto 
  • Forename
    • Alagorians hold a single given name. Usually, this name is selected from the ranks of great ancestors. It is incredibly bad luck to take the name of a living ancestor, as it is believed that misfortune meant for the elder family member will befall the younger one instead. Additionally, it is taboo to hold the name of a saint. 
    • It is only appropriate to use an Alagorian's forename if they are your express friend. Doing otherwise may be seen as a challenge, or as a not-so-subtle romantic pass. 
  • Surnames 
    • Every Alagorian has two surnames: one from their father (apellido paterno), one from their mother (apellido materna.) These are listed after their given names. The mother’s name is listed first, becoming the individual's surname of address, unless the father held a more impressive station or holdings. 
    • Usually, surname inheritance works thusly: a child inherits their first surname from their father’s father, and their second surname from their mother’s mother. 
    • Only in rather traditional marriages do Alagorians change one of their surnames. Usually, the younger individual replaces their second name with that of their fiance. 
  • Byname/s 
    • Byname's (apodos) mark both a person's place of birth, their current residence, or the lands attached to a noble title. Thus, an Alagorian may have two, three, or more bynames. The first byname (origionale) in a person's name is their place of birth, the second (secundo) is their current residence, and the last (reinar) describes their holdings, if any. 
  • Address
    • A person's full name, including honorific, title, forename, surnames, and bynames must be used when writing and upon introduction. 
    • Formal situations require that a person be addressed by their surname, usually accompanied by a title and/or honorific. The same goes for professional situations. 
    • In personal life, Alagorians go by their first names or by any number of nicknames and diminutives. Usually, individual diminutive variants of their name exist solely for use by certain older family members.


I don't know how much this article helps anyone, but it sure helps me.


* In fact, many Firls believe names ending in the letter A to be terrible bad luck. They believe such names draw the spite and ire of ælves.