The other day, I mentioned hunting dictionaries for words. I tend to do the same with wikipedia, for factoids. I imagine a good many people do as well; I wonder who many wikipedia searches are specifically directed, and how many are just from wandering curiosity.
Today I was poking around wikipedia, looking up “mattock” and “maul.” The old Dungeon Master’s Guide had these two magic items in it, the maul and mattock of the titans, I believe. I was curious where the names of these tools derived.
From there, I stumbled on sledgehammer (the modern version of a maul, really). “Sledge,” I learned, came from the Anglo-Saxon “slaegan,” meaning to strike violently, and from where we also get the word “slay”. Thus an old passage in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (which came up with a Google search of the word) about a group of French soldiers that “slew some monks to death,” is not oddly redundant.
A few nights ago, I was out to dinner with my wife and friends, and the discussion of character names in The Hunger Games came up. Some people hated “Peeta” as a name, as a weird corruption of Peter (or, as someone pointed out, a play on “pita,” as the character happened to be a baker. I didn’t mind it; The Hunger Games has a light sci-fi, near future setting, and names adjusted one click to the right of our modern names felt appropriate to me as a reader.
Character names in sci-fi and fantasy names is tricky business. But I will say that “Slaegan” would make for a heck of a good fantasy warrior name.