Thursday, March 29, 2018

Mora — What’s in a Name?

Although the name of my quasi-Polynesian people, the Mora, might sound a bit like that of another Polynesian nation, the Maori, that is not where I came up with it. Indeed, the similarity of the two made me leery of using Mora — but I went with it anyway.

The name is actually a back development from Molu, a later group that I had invented long before I ever wrote anything about the Mora. I had developed this Molu nation as something closer to a feudal Japanese society, and the Mora may still evolve into something similar. As I have hinted and suggested over the course of the Malvern and Mora novels, they will mix with their neighbors — particularly the Malay-related Kohari — to become a great nation down the line.

I also came up with an origin for the name, which I put forth in ‘Arrows of Heaven.’ It means, more or less, ‘peaceful sky,’ a name the Mora gave to their land after a storm-filled journey. In time, the term also came to apply to those who dwelt there. This does follow actual usage from Polynesian dialects, as do many of the names and terms I have used in the novels. I have attempted to be somewhat consistent about how the language changed in their new home but have probably not been completely successful! That doesn’t matter; language does change and more so when there are external influences — here, the main one being the Kohari and the pidgin tongue the two cultures have developed for trade.

So, they are the Mora and the name refers to no other people or culture. Are they like Maori? Sure, in some respects. Perhaps they are more like Tahitians, as their ancestors were probably migrating from that area of the Pacific. That doesn’t matter so much; it would have been well back in the early days of Polynesian colonization across the ocean, maybe before the Maori even settled in New Zealand. All I have told of them was that they were exiles, fleeing some defeat in ‘nine great canoes.’ And maybe that is all we ever need know.

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