Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mana vs. Manna

This issue just came up in an email.

Mana vs. manna: I figured either word works for what I wanted to convey. I believe Larry Niven, within the fantasy genre, was the first writer to use the first word to mean magical energy, but I think the term actually comes from the magical practices of some culture that I can't recall. The second specifically refers to food given by God, but metaphorically refers to something that is there for the taking,

In the end, it's just a handle for the stuff that powers magic. I wanted to be clear that it is different stuff from everyday physical energy and doesn't necessarily follow our laws of physics. As far as I'm concerned, it can be called anything. That's why I had Ursus say that it has lots of names and we might just as well call it manna.

Of course, now I have people thinking I'm making a homonym mistake. I guess I should have just made up a word.


rabababa said...

Mana is the concept of an impersonal force or quality that resides in people, animals, and inanimate objects. The concept is common to many Oceanic languages, including Melanesian, Polynesian, and Micronesian.

In anthropological discourse, mana as a generalized concept has attained a significant amount of interest, often understood as a precursor to formal religion. It has commonly been interpreted as "the stuff of which magic is formed", as well as the substance of which souls are made.

Modern fantasy fiction and computer and role-playing games have adopted mana as a term for magic points—an expendable resource out of which magic users form their magical spells.

Mana should not be confused with the Biblical manna (also spelled mana or mannah), which, according to the Bible (Exodus, chapter 16), provided sustenance for the Israelites.


Xenophon Hendrix said...

There is no confusion on my part. I'm using manna in the sense that it is something of value that is there for the taking.

I think during the grand revision I just might call it something else.

rabababa said...

I didn't think you were confused. My post is just a quote from the beginning of the wikipedia article. I added nothing to the quote.

I don't think you need to change anything. If you must make a change, just take out one of the n's.

AC said...

I'm not sure how much it matters what word you use for magical energy. In one game I play magic is Aura. The more powerful the mage, the better your aura and the more power you have to cast spells. Each spell takes a certain amount of Aura. If you're uncertain you can expend more just in case.

Mana, manna, or mannah all sound about the same. People are familiar with it. Your average nerd will automatically associate it with magic even if they are a Christian (believe me, I always think of magic before the biblical reference).

I've also seen the words ether and aetheral used with various spellings. All are good and everyone pretty much recognizes them in context.

If you want to make your own word though, I wish you luck. I always have a horrible time at it, but if you're using Manna as a living source which is what I kind of see you doing since you have to coax it to you... you could always use a word similiar to life, force, or power from other languages that aren't rooted with the word mana and see what you get. It could be fun.