Kenateyo the Elves call him,
But to the Huns trembling there
His dread kind was Ulug-beliŋ,*
The Great Terror,
A predator unlike any that prowled
The wide wastes of mortal lands.
When writing this weird book that’s got Huns and dinosaurs appearing on the same page, one of the first decisions I made was to not refer to these extinct taxa by their scientific names. T. rex is never once called a T. rex, but is given a unique name constructed with the languages of those peoples that interact with it, be they mythic, historic, or -in the case of the excerpt above- a bit of both.
Surprisingly enough, historically nomadic societies don’t tend to leave behind much archaeological evidence concerning their languages. Shocker, I know. As such, there’s not really a whole lot we know about Hunnic beyond some proper names preserved for us by Roman historians. But even then we don’t get that much; even Attila’s capital tucked somewhere within Hungary’s Carpathian Basin is never mentioned by name.
It has been pointed out that many of the Hunnic names we know seem to be fairly easily traceable to words of later Turkic languages, and several etymologies for Attila’s name have been suggested using this foundation. One such etymology would suggest his name means ‘oceanic (a.k.a. universal) ruler’ from es (‘great’, ‘old’) and til (‘sea’, ‘ocean’). Another hypothesis argues that his name is related to the Turkic-Mongolian at, adyy/agta (‘gelding’, warhorse’) and the Turkish atli (‘horseman’).
Whether Hunnic actually was an early Turkic language or simply very closely related, I am not qualified to answer, but nevertheless it seemed obvious enough to go off of this assumption whenever I had to coin some Hunnic name.
Attila’s aforementioned capital, for instance, I called Jalaŋgül. I based this construction off of the Proto-Turkic words jalaŋ (‘field’) and gül (‘dwelling’), thereby creating a name meaning something on the lines of ‘settlement of/on the steppe.’
Going back to the Tyrannosaurus, I constructed the title Ulug-beliŋ with the Proto-Turkic words ulug (‘big’, ‘great’) and beliŋ (‘panic’, ‘terror’).
There are a few other Hunnic terms in Augusta that I took the time to construct, and I have done even more exploration in the vocabulary of many other languages to create a whole variety of names for the other palaeontogical biota that make an appearance in my book.
Language was but one of many facets essential to bring to life the world of Augusta: The Lost Epic of Rome’s Last Days, and I am a firm believer that this extra homework has done well to boost the immersion of Augusta’s reading experience.
*ŋ is used to represent a velar nasal, like the ng in singing