Worldbuilding: Naming Conventions

The worlds of the Federation and beyond exhibit a panoply of cultures influenced by all manner of civilizations from Earth and some that have been attempts at inventing a culture from scratch.  The distinctions between cultures may not be more apparent anywhere than their names.  Tau Ceti traditionalists tend towards a patronymic and their species name, Epsilon Eridani assigns every citizen a number that used to be their equivalent to names pre-contact.  While the people of New Pallas in Alpha Centauri have come up with a naming system that perplexes many newcomers.

Most Pallene have 3-4 names, all but one of which are hereditary.  As an example, Jarlin Fairhold de Argentum a Denal.  In zir case Jarlin is zir given name, or praenomen in the Roman terminology.  Fairhold is the cognomen, a sort of surname indicating direct descent from a notable ancestor, cognomen may be patrilineal or matrilineal with some taking two or more cognomen.

The last two names are the genera, names tied to the two bits of DNA that pass from generation to generation virtually unchanged.  First is the m-genus, fixed to zir mitochondrial plasmids and inherited matrilineally, generally prefixed with “de” or “of”.  The second is the y-genus tied to the y-chromosome prefixed with “a” or “from”.

This complicated naming system has its’ origins in the Traveller, the Old Pallas seedship that first settled Alpha Centauri.  With their knowledge of genetics they knew that any specific genes would be mingled and scattered among any individual’s descendants, with the exception of mitochondrial or Y-chromosome genes.  The ship’s crew being an equal mix of male and female they could not agree on which would be used and adopted the two-genus system as a compromise.  As such, names were tied to each of the 500 mitochondria and 250 Y-chromosomes carried within the seedship’s genebanks.  However, as time passed and the population grew, many desired a means of differentiating each other further.  To this end came the practice of adding cognomen to the parenomen and genera.

In the modern interstellar age, every one of the original genera have millions of members, some immigrants have even attempted to establish their own, but three m-genera and two y-genera are of particular note.  Derived from the Traveller’s crew themselves.

The most famous, of course, is genus Argentum, the descendants of the founder of the Pallas Republic, most of them are at least part vulpine but the families that are most politically active: Tellis, Fairhold, Kolnen, etc, tend towards phenotypes that are at least 75% silver fox.  Genus Olga is the second most prestigious m-genus, descended from Pallas’ military commander, mostly lupine but much more diverse and less politically active.  Genus Natalie, the “forgotten” crew genus, are descended from the one member of the seedship’s crew who wasn’t the child of the Pallas founding personages, an otter by the name of Natalie; today the genus includes all sorts of mustelidae mixed with practically every species included in the parahuman genome, and those who still care about such things are a bit bitter.

Both of the highest y-genera carry the chromosomes of founding personages, male-line descendants of the Traveller’s y-carrying crew.  Genus Denal is the larger and more popular of the two, descending from Olga’s mate, though repeated intermarriage between genera Argentum and Olga has made the y-genus the most common among praetors of the Federation.  Genus Maximus have an unbroken line from Argentum’s mate, but the fact that he was a clone of the founder of the SPPS has made the name somewhat less popular.


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