Here’s a quick cheat for you if you need to come up with fantasy names for locations, towns, natural features or even people.
Use Google translate.
Pick a couple of related or similar languages that have the right ‘feel’ to them, translate your phrase, mix match and mingle willy-nilly, and you’ve got yourself something that sounds like a real language (because it kind of is) and which has a ring of authenticity, even though it isn’t really.
Often the more obscure the better, though you may have to use piecemeal online dictionaries for Catalan, Cornish or Old English.
Couple of examples:
Dwarves, I like to think of Dwarves as Welsh rather than Scottish. It’s much more evocative given Wales’ reputation for coal mining and cultural cues that would make dwarves interesting.
Anyway, let’s try a couple of options for people, places and things, using a mixture of Welsh and Cornish (an almost lost dialect from England’s Southwest).
Person: Big Fat Black Lung.
Welsh: Mawr Braster Du Ysgyfaint.
Cornish: Torrek (Big-bellied) du Skeven.
Mix & Match: Tawrek du Skevaint.
Place: Silver Gold Mine.
Welsh: Arian Aur Mwynglawdd.
Cornish: Arghans Owr Hwel.
Mix & Match: Arawell.
Thing: Axe of Deep Shadow.
Welsh: Bwyell o Dwfn Cysgod.
Cornish: Bool a Down Skeus.
Mix & Match: The ancient axe ‘Boladunskus’.
For orcs you might want to mix Russian and German.
For elves you might want to mix French and Italian dialects, though wood elves might be better with a Tolkienesque inspiration from Finnish and Estonian.
Give it a go! Show me what you came up with in the comments 🙂