Saturday, November 14, 2009

Procyon and Names

One of the appeals of stories in the fantasy and science fiction genres are the cool names. Although it's possible to make new sequences of sounds, and define the gibberish as the name of some person, place, or thing in a story - I think there's something to be said for taking existing, but relatively unfamiliar names.

Like Tataouine (which can be pronounced "Tatooine"). That's a word that's fairly well-known as the name of Luke Skywalker's home in the Star Wars movies. It's also the name of a city and a region in northern Tunisia.

I was looking up names for Procyon (Alpha Canis Minor) this evening, and came up with this:

R. H. Allen said that "Euphratean scholars" called Procyon "...Kakkab Paldara, Pallika, or Palura...." ("The Brightest Stars: Discovering the Universe Through the Sky's Most Brilliant Stars," Fred Schaaf, p. 167) Allen's "Euphratean scholars" might have been referring to Babylonian names of Procyon. Or, the Kakkab Paldara/Pallika/Palura might be one of those loose connections in late-19th and early-20th century scholarship that's been corrected since.

In any event, "Pallika" and "Palura" - and "Kakkab Paldera" are fairly cool-sounding names.

Palura is also the name that somebody named Walker gave to a genus of moth in 1861. (The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London)

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