25 Mab Square
Memo, Were Liaison
Extract from emails between Judith Cromwell (head of the Bureau of Occult Affairs) and Peter Robson (a policy advisor in Were Liaison).
I’ve been looking through the draft correspondence waiting for my signature. I’ll want to make my own changes here and there, of course, but the first thing I need to get to grips with is formal and informal styles of address. I’m afraid I’m completely at sea with some of the names I’ve seen. Some people seem to have a lot of names, and there doesn’t seem to be much structure I can work out. Why, for example, is the letter to someone called (if I’ve got it right) Bernard Dartmoor addressed, rather barely, to “Dear Dartmoor”? Is this some sort of title? And why, in two other cases where people seem to have three names, is one addressed “Mr [second name]” whilst the other is to “Mr [third name]”? This is the first occasion I’ve seen three names; all I’ve seen up to now is the usual two.
JudithThere’s a lot of variation in Were names, but most of the time you’ll only come across the werewolves and the wereboars, as they are the two largest communities. I’ll stick to those two for this purpose; we can deal with others as and when they crop up. The others mainly have only two names. For minor variations we can ensure that anyone who drafts a letter for you attaches a note of the correct formal and informal alternatives, to enable you to choose.
Wereboars never use a family name; they always take the herd name. This produces effects rather similar to those that existed in some Welsh towns a hundred odd years ago, when everyone shared so few names that, to differentiate between people, one might be known as “Dai the baker” and another as “Dai the milk”, or whatever. For exactly the same reason, wereboars have three names – their personal name, their herd name, and a distinguishing nickname. Some nicknames are physical or other attributes which are unlikely to change during the lifetime of the individual, but others are not, and are likely to change – sometimes more than once. Some do not change, although they cease to be relevant.
On the whole, in correspondence, it’s better to use “Dear [first name]” if you wish to be informal, or “Dear Mr/Mrs/etc [surname]” if you wish to be formal. However, in personal conversation it may be appropriate to use the nickname, if that is how the person is generally addressed. It’s possible therefore that anything addressed to “Mr [second name]” where you are aware the person has three names, is on account of his being a wereboar. On the other hand, he or she may be a werewolf (or some other variations). Once you become used to the various common names used in each community you will usually be able to tell what community they belong to, and therefore what forms of address are appropriate, from the name.
Werewolves (and I suspect all your examples are such) are rather more complicated.
Most weres have only two names e.g. Bernard Hardfang. Like humans, his first name will have been given him as a baby. It’s the second name which tends to give us headaches, because usage depends largely upon the age, status and outlook of the person. Basically, surnames are of three sorts:
- Hunting names
- Family names
- Moot names
Werewolves take these when they make their first kill, and it’s their formal name within the pack. Moots have traditionally supplied accommodation and supervision to those young werewolves who, after their first kill, decide to leave their family unit and seek independence prior to setting up their own family. In the past, the two alphas setting up home would then pick a family name of their own in addition to their hunting name. However, this practice seems to be altering slowly in favour of not choosing a family name until they have their first child.
This is always that of the current family unit. As and when people move family units (as the result of marriage, death etc), they change their name to that of the head of the new household they moved into. For this reason, any werewolf may have several second names over the course of their lives. This is actually rather irritating for us as it often obscures relationships between the upper echelons of the werewolf community. This means we have to try to keep track of such relationships ourselves in order to avoid any ministerial gaffs. The head or heads (if it is a couple) of the household are generally known as “the” whatever the family name is, so Bernard and his partner are the Hardfangs.
Now it happens that Bernard took on responsibility for members of his birth family following his father’s death and they all changed their names from Bernard’s birth family name of Longstalker, to his chosen family name of Hardfang. However, just to confuse you, although Bernard has two surnames, one his hunting name and one his family name, he isn’t addressed by either (see below).
Now, as to why you address Bernard as “Dartmoor” rather than “Mr Hardfang”, that is because he is the thane of a “named” or “landed” Moot. The thanes of these moots are always addressed by his or her Moot name, which becomes their title. So Bernard is properly Bernard Dartmoor, rather than Bernard of Dartmoor, which is how the thane of a non-named moot would be addressed. Eldormen are treated in the same manner as thanes of named moots, so the Eldorman of London should be addressed as “Dear London”. (Actually, the current Eldorman of London is properly addressed as “Sire” simply because he holds the chair of the Witan and that is the correct term of address for the Halfking). We hold a list of the named moots due to various other legal niceties associated with them. There is a pecking order among thanes which rests upon how long their Moot has been in existence. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily bear much relationship to any political influence any thane wields as an individual beyond his or her own Moot, but it can be useful.
Oh, and finally, but of little practical importance, is the inner or ‘fetch’ name. This seems to be associated with religion and is a widespread practice amongst all types of Weres. I’ve heard it said that the sayth (religious practitioners) know the inner name of every person. These names of jealousy guarded by their owners as they seem to be regarded as a key to the person’s soul. In the extremely unlikely event you ever discover a Were’s inner name it is best never to use it unless the person actively encourages you to do so, and then never in the company of a third person. And try to discourage any minister from using one. There are few things as likely to cause an embarrassment (except, of course, a direct reference to a werewolf’s parentage).
I apologise for the length of this email, but it has not exhausted the subject. Do come back to me if you want more information. If, on the other hand, I have given you far more than you needed, let me know and I will attempt to tailor replies to future enquires accordingly.
Were Policy Advisor
© Alexa Duir 2006. All Rights Reserved.