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Thread: Centaurs

  1. #1
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Centaurs

    Centaurs are going to be playing a fairly big role in the upcoming chapter of one of my stories, so I have a few questions that I need cleared up on the subject of the centaurs that reside in the forests around Hogwarts.

    Where do the centaur names in the Harry Potter books come from? Has anyone noticed any naming patterns that J.K. has been using in her books?

    Does anyone have any theories as to how the Hogwarts centaurs even got there? I believed the originated in Greece, am I right?

    I'm sure I will think of more questions to add later, but for now, I will settle for these.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    Centaurs are going to be playing a fairly big role in the upcoming chapter of one of my stories, so I have a few questions that I need cleared up on the subject of the centaurs that reside in the forests around Hogwarts.

    Where do the centaur names in the Harry Potter books come from? Has anyone noticed any naming patterns that J.K. has been using in her books?

    Does anyone have any theories as to how the Hogwarts centaurs even got there? I believed the originated in Greece, am I right?

    I'm sure I will think of more questions to add later, but for now, I will settle for these.
    I don't really see any regular naming convention for centaurs. 'Firenze' is Italian for Florence, Bane's name simply refers to a scourge or annoyance or whatever, Ronan is an Irish Celtic name, and Magorian doesn't seem to mean anything.

    So, for centaur names, pick whatever you want, because in canon there are no naming patterns.

    As for how the centaurs got from Greece to Britain, there could be any number of explanations. Horses can swim, so centaurs should be able to do the same. But centaurs have things called arms and opposable thumbs, so they could have possibly made some boats to get across the Channel to the island. Or maybe centaurs from the continent crossed the Channel a few tens of thousands of years ago during the Pleistocene, when Britain was still connected to the continent.

    Tim the Enchanter

  3. #3
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Hmm, but all the different names do make me wonder certain things. With all these different origins for their names, where are they learning them from? If they had old Greek names, that would be easier to understand, but where are they learning all these different names from?

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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    Hmm, but all the different names do make me wonder certain things. With all these different origins for their names, where are they learning them from? If they had old Greek names, that would be easier to understand, but where are they learning all these different names from?
    Rowling didn't really think about that when assigning names, probably. Personally, I wouldn't worry to much about this and just make up whatever names strike your fancy.

    Also, why should centaurs have Greek names? Just because their species originated there, doesn't mean the centaurs in Britain speak Greek, or have Greek names. That would be like saying all humans should speak some African language just because our species originated there.

    Tim the Enchanter

  5. #5
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    What do you think could be some limits in nationalities of a centaur's name. I remember once seeing a character thread for a centaur that had a Japanese name. I don't mean just a name that the author thought they had made up and then just later turned out to be a Japanese name; both the author and the character knew that their name was Japanese in origin. This, I felt, was just a little to farfetched to believe.

    What do you feel like some limitations there could be in naming a centaur?

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    What do you feel like some limitations there could be in naming a centaur?
    I'd say "Mr. Ed" and "Seabiscuit" are out.

    Seriously, Rowling seemed to choose names that were vaguely imposing and/or ominous. Since Centaurs, as far as we know, don't have their own language, apparently they speak the local human tongue, which means in Britain they'll pick vaguely English names.

    It's also possible they do have their own language, and "Firenze," "Bane," "Magorian," etc., are just English names they chose as approximations of their Centaur names.

    It doesn't seem likely a Centaur in Britain would have a Japanese name unless for some reason his parents were fond of Japanese culture. (And I can't really see Centaurs becoming otaku.) But they might easily choose names from various European languages -- they've been around for a long time, so they are certainly aware of English, Celtic, French, Italian, Greek, etc.

  7. #7
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Maybe another theory to the different nationalities of centaur names is that as they traveled, they slowly picked up the languages of the nations they traveled through, and, along with it, the names. Maybe the forign names are names taken from centaurs in previous generations who were born in the country whose nationality their name comes from. We know what a fan J.K. is of naming people after other people.

    Just another theory. But I feel like names that come from countries that can't be walked to would be out of line in terms of beleivability.

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    Just another theory. But I feel like names that come from countries that can't be walked to would be out of line in terms of beleivability.
    That assumes that Centaurs don't know anything about any lands they haven't personally visited. We know from the books that they are, in fact, a knowledgeable race (or at least they claim they are). It's not too far-fetched to believe that they're actually literate and can read books.

    Also, as has been pointed out, Centaurs are originally Greek, or at least Centaur legends are. It's likely that they're not native to the British Isles, which means they didn't walk there, which means somehow or other, they've traveled in the past. Whether they are like giants, who've apparently crossed the Channel in recent history, or as Tim suggests, British Centaurs came across during the last ice age, they certainly know about other places.

  9. #9
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    I suppose I tend to think of the centaurs being somewhat akin to the origins of the Native Americans.

    You know, the originally came from continental Russia, crossed over the Bering Strait while it was still frozen and gradually just kept on moving further and further south until they eventually made up the Native American nations as we know them today.

    Unless that's just another lie my history teachers told me. I have been told a lot over the years.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    I suppose I tend to think of the centaurs being somewhat akin to the origins of the Native Americans.

    You know, the originally came from continental Russia, crossed over the Bering Strait while it was still frozen and gradually just kept on moving further and further south until they eventually made up the Native American nations as we know them today.

    Unless that's just another lie my history teachers told me. I have been told a lot over the years.
    It's all lies, Molly! LIES! It was the Freemasons and Aliens who transported the Indians to the Americas, not some stupid Bering Strait land bridge!

    But back to centaurs and such, I hate to imagine how the Greek Ministry of Magic (or whatever they would call it there) keeps track of all its homicidal monsters. They must really have their plates full, keeping chimeras and manticores and all sorts of lovely things in check.

    Tim the Enchanter

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