‘What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet,’ Juliet said to Romeo.
But would the image of the flower be as alluring? That is the question.
The problem with names is that they carry baggage and it’s the baggage that defines the meaning. Think of it like a name is a wheelbarrow loaded with meaning. Once the load is tipped out, the wheelbarrow is free to recharge — but is it? Long after the wheelbarrow has shed its load, it is remembered by what it carried. Names become identities for things, which means that the name of a book must be carefully chosen lest it misrepresent the object, not because it might define it, but because of the identity associated with the image of the word choices.
Rose offers an image of the object, not only by its expanding mandala of petals; but also by the way it comes about, from its teardrop bud to its concentric opening. The rose rises. True, the smell would not alter, were the name changed, but I would suggest fewer people would smell it. The rose offers its fragrance through the action of its name: the fragrance also rises to meet the olfactory.
Changing a name can be both a taxing and traumatising experience. When she returned my final draft, after working with a title for years, my editor made it plain that she believed what I had did not serve the book well. She noted that I had worked so long with the title that it was hard for me to see the book any other way. She offered many excellent arguments as to why I should drop it and adopt another title.
So I called it The Kumakana Crisis, and after having an opportunity of viewing the text in production yesterday, I adopted a suggestion from my designer to change the title again. Curiously, to what was suggested by my editor on her return of the final manuscript. My designer, however, had made a decision on the sub-title to satisfy my need to retain a connection to the working title.
It’s not a big change. In short, I’ve dropped the ‘The’ and ‘Crisis’ from the title. Visually it is now much more appealing, it has an intensified curiosity factor and it no longer positions it as a thriller, as the word crisis tends to do.
So there it is. It is now called KUMAKANA. A single word. A made up word. A word locating the story in its setting, because it could not occur anywhere else.
A word on pronunciation
So it’s a made up word — well made up from parts drawn from the local indigenous language and modified to suit my purposes. So it’s a neologism of sorts, like Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, with real roots that give it its meaning.
When I first started writing this project about 15 years ago, I spent a long time researching words from the local Indigenous languages (local to SW Australia) so that I could give readers an experience of shifting into a world that existed before European invasion occurred. Naturally there is not always the word I was seeking, but it was important that world into which the reader enters had roots long before English was used here.
To solve the problem, I took two word-parts.
I wanted to express the idea that this place was the place of all beginnings — it is where life begins and from where it carries out into the wider world. The word part kan has the essence of both one and mother. The word part kum that of life, fruit, big (broad/great) and possum. The Kumakana then became the place of the one; where life comes from one source and is spread out from among the trees, like the fruit or possum. The forest acts as the one mother for all.
The ‘u’ in kum is pronounced like put, not like suck. In kana, the first ‘a’ is ‘ar-like’ as in pass; the second soft like an ‘uh’ rather than an ‘ay’. If you want to hear how it sounds, listen to the song >> http://www.kevinprice.com.au/?p=103
KUMAKANA — a gronups tale will be published by Crotchet Quaver in June 2016