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Pocalo Culture: Naming Conventions

Pocalo Culture: Naming Conventions published on

The humans of Pocalo typically have a personal name bestowed by their parents, and a second name acquired later in life that describes their primary skillset. Most names follow this pattern: [UNIQUE PERSONAL NAME] wis [PRIMARY SKILL], where “wis” is a contraction for “who is good at.”

Back in the mists of time, life in the Valley was very difficult, and ANYTHING you could do to help people survive for another day was considered a good thing. What you looked like, what configuration of body parts you had, who your parents were … none of this was more important than what skill you excelled at that would keep people alive.

“Hey, we need a doctor right away.” “No problem, just go talk to Derga wis Medicine.”

Arvandi Names

Valley of the Silk Sky - naming conventions

Razi isn’t originally from Pocalo. Xe’s Arvandi, and the Arvandi have a totally different naming convention. An Arvandi child’s second name is a portmanteau of xer parents’ names. For example, Razi’s second name is Zakar. Xer parents’ second names were Zaya and Kari, so when they had Razi they created a new name by combining syllables from their own second names. (If a family is polyamorous, the child might have a three or four syllable name. In other words, the name doesn’t necessarily reflect genetic material but rather acknowledged parents.)

The records office worker in the second panel is stumbling because xe’s expecting a “wis [PRIMARY SKILL]” construction and instead is seeing a word that doesn’t seem to suggest a particular skillset. Probably the person who entered the name wrong in the first place was having similar trouble, and didn’t know what a Zakar was any moreso than a Kazar.

Daraz Names

The Daraz have extremely sensitive senses of smell, so their language has thousands of words for different smells, indeed different individual esters, and further metaphorical meanings for those various words. Daraz names almost always reference scents, and are formally constructed as “Smells Like [SCENT].” Halvanylila = “Smells Like the Fourth Ester of Lilac.”

Valley of the Silk Sky - Daraz names

Chadsen is deploying a rather complicated pun here. “Bors” actually means “pepper,” but it’s very close in sound to “Borz,” which means badger.

The term for skunk is bűzös borz, literally “smelly badger.” Smells Like Badger = Smelly Badger = Skunk.

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