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Fairies, pixies, elves, sprites, nymphs WAAAAAT?!

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Jassysworth 1
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Fairies, pixies, elves, sprites, nymphs WAAAAAT?!

Postby Jassysworth 1 » Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:17 am

Ok what exactly are the main differences between fairies, pixies, elves, sprites, and nymphs? Aren't they sort of the same thing or not?

Appearance-wise (size, wings vs no wings, color, features etc)? Origin-wise? Locations? Which of them can perform magic and which of them can't?

Are these titles in fact interchangeable? Oh and which are usually benign and which are usually evil?

This is SOOO confusing...

If I am writing a story and I needed a bunch of mischievous magic-users with child-like features and wings who travel in the forests... which group would that be?

Which group do you prefer...
Last edited by Jassysworth 1 on Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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North Wiedna
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Postby North Wiedna » Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:46 am

Elves are clearly distinct from the rest, being a race of pointy eared humanoids usually with extra propensity for magic. Nymphs are specifically forest or nature deities.

From what I can gather fairies are exactly what you think of them, pixies are some specific type of fairy, and both are sprites, which is a general category.

For your story I'd call them pixies, seems appropriate.
Last edited by North Wiedna on Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Auzkhia » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:10 am

Sprite is a lemon lime soda produced by the Coca Cola Company, right?
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North Wiedna
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Postby North Wiedna » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:36 am

Auzkhia wrote:Sprite is a lemon lime soda produced by the Coca Cola Company, right?

Fanta is a nazi drink ;(
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Postby Soviet Post Punk » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:41 am

it doesn't really matter, they don't exist.

call whatever you want whatever you want, why not go for something different and be creative.
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Postby Auzkhia » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:41 am

North Wiedna wrote:
Auzkhia wrote:Sprite is a lemon lime soda produced by the Coca Cola Company, right?

Fanta is a nazi drink ;(

Aber, Fanta ist Fantastisch
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North Wiedna
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Postby North Wiedna » Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:58 pm

Soviet Post Punk wrote:why not go for something different and be creative.

Not always the best for writing. Sometimes you need plain words to get a point across. If I call them "elves" most people know what that is or they can look it up if they don't. If you make something up you waste time explaining what they are, which can have effects on flow and length.
Auzkhia wrote:
North Wiedna wrote:Fanta is a nazi drink ;(

Aber, Fanta ist Fantastisch

dunno what that means but it's true, it was invented in Nazi Germany because they had problems importing Coca-Cola syrup. The dude running Coca Cola in Germany refused to join the Nazi party though.
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Postby Soviet Post Punk » Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:07 pm

North Wiedna wrote:
Soviet Post Punk wrote:why not go for something different and be creative.

Not always the best for writing. Sometimes you need plain words to get a point across. If I call them "elves" most people know what that is or they can look it up if they don't. If you make something up you waste time explaining what they are, which can have effects on flow and length.

oh sorry i didn't realise i was speaking to a bunch of lazy writers.
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North Wiedna
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Postby North Wiedna » Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:28 pm

Soviet Post Punk wrote:
North Wiedna wrote:Not always the best for writing. Sometimes you need plain words to get a point across. If I call them "elves" most people know what that is or they can look it up if they don't. If you make something up you waste time explaining what they are, which can have effects on flow and length.

oh sorry i didn't realise i was speaking to a bunch of lazy writers.

i didn't realize i was speaking to someone who doesn't know how to write efficiently

there's a difference between being a good writer and thinking you're a good writer. writing a lot doesn't make you better. saying "the spherical rubber plaything reflected light of longer wavelengths, which is to say it is of a reddish color" is fucking stupid, just say "the ball is red". concision of language is important if you want natural flow.

there's a reason why point 1 in my copy of The Elements of Style is "form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's". they do this because saying "the friend of Charles" is unnecessarily long when you have the option of saying "Charles's friend"

of course the elements of style isn't a rulebook, it's a guidebook, but it's a good guide, and anyone who follows at least some of its principles will probably get at least some knowledge of prose.
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Postby Soviet Post Punk » Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:44 pm

North Wiedna wrote:i didn't realize i was speaking to someone who doesn't know how to write efficiently
you can't write efficiently without writing lazily

you heard it here first folks
North Wiedna wrote:absolutely bizarre comparison
no

stop

you are comparing a colour to a fictional creature which varies culture to culture

there is objectively red
there is not objectively elf
North Wiedna wrote:there's a reason why point 1 in my copy of The Elements of Style is "form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's". they do this because saying "the friend of Charles" is unnecessarily long when you have the option of saying "Charles's friend"
did it teach you to make really, really silly comparisons? you're sure doing it by the book ;-)
North Wiedna wrote:of course the elements of style isn't a rulebook, it's a guidebook, but it's a good guide, and anyone who follows at least some of its principles will probably get at least some knowledge of prose.
it's also a very EFFICIENT way of making you look like a painful snob (without reason, even!!)
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North Wiedna
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Postby North Wiedna » Thu Jun 13, 2013 3:14 pm

Soviet Post Punk wrote:
North Wiedna wrote:i didn't realize i was speaking to someone who doesn't know how to write efficiently
you can't write efficiently without writing lazily

you heard it here first folks

this is so untrue

it's easier to write inefficiently, otherwise you wouldn't need to proofread. the whole point of concision is to make the piece easily readable and easy to follow. if you mire it up with new words phrases (which, by the way, are useless outside the specific piece's universe) when there's perfectly acceptable alternatives you're giving the reader one more thing to keep track of, and, if they forget, they're forced to turn back and check, ruining the flow of the piece. it's not being "lazy", it's focusing on what actually matters instead of trivial details like word invention for the sake of word invention. there is NO need to break up the flow of a story by throwing in what might as well be an excerpt from an encyclopedia.
Soviet Post Punk wrote:
North Wiedna wrote:absolutely bizarre comparison
no

stop

you are comparing a colour to a fictional creature which varies culture to culture

there is objectively red
there is not objectively elf

even if elves vary from culture to culture, there is a specific audience in mind, and as long as the specific audience is the one reading the book they will more than often get the right mental picture for "elf". besides, the cultural variations of elves are slight, in no culture is an elf the english equivalent of a trent or an ogre. the differences are superficial and easily overlooked because it would be quite obvious by analyzing the point of view of the author
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Postby Soviet Post Punk » Thu Jun 13, 2013 3:33 pm

North Wiedna wrote:this is so untrue

it's easier to write inefficiently,
who said anything about difficulty? if you think "well most americans think elves are those things on the cookie box ill go for that i guess" isnt lazy as shit well i dont know man.
North Wiedna wrote:otherwise you wouldn't need to proofread.
irrelevant
North Wiedna wrote: the whole point of concision is to make the piece easily readable and easy to follow.
i didnt realise accessibility was central to quality of writing.
North Wiedna wrote:if you mire it up with new words phrases (which, by the way, are useless outside the specific piece's universe)
i really don't see how your parenthesis is relevant. if im creating a piece of literature, im not renting it out for use by other people, and im not attempting to contribute to the english language, that's fairly ridiculous. when you say "mire" it really strikes of being dismissive of world building.
North Wiedna wrote: when there's perfectly acceptable alternatives
well ok have fun having that bizarre anomaly of old english sticking out like a sore thumb if you ever attempt to expand on a fictitious culture, language, race, etc.
North Wiedna wrote: you're giving the reader one more thing to keep track of,
heaven forbid they expend effort in absorbing art the poor dears.
North Wiedna wrote: and, if they forget, they're forced to turn back and check, ruining the flow of the piece.
this really is only an issue if the person reading is moronic to the point of being unable to read from context or you're so poorly skilled you can't embed created words in such a way that their meaning become sapparent.
North Wiedna wrote: it's not being "lazy", it's focusing on what actually matters instead of trivial details like word invention for the sake of word invention. there is NO need to break up the flow of a story by throwing in what might as well be an excerpt from an encyclopedia.
what actually matters is making everything to read, so speaketh the lord, but not in his texts because despite being very pretty they are BAD because they do not focus on what the modern consumer wants - swiftly and easily digestible literature they can consume quickly.

buuhuu why actually try to create a real or immersive world when you can go for the concise cop out and turn your work into a 4 page pamphlet.

hey if you can't write in an interesting way to convey the meaning of something you have one person to blame.
North Wiedna wrote:
even if elves vary from culture to culture, there is a specific audience in mind,
speak for yourself and yourself only.
North Wiedna wrote:and as long as the specific audience is the one reading the book they will more than often get the right mental picture for "elf".

oh so you just jump on the bland cookie cutter elf which i

genuinely have no idea about? really you have the christmas elves and you have the high fantasy elves? and even the nazi low fantasy ones. i have no specific idea ofwhat you mean by elf.
North Wiedna wrote: besides, the cultural variations of elves are slight, in no culture is an elf the english equivalent of a trent or an ogre. the differences are superficial and easily overlooked because it would be quite obvious by analyzing the point of view of the author

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Jassysworth 1
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Postby Jassysworth 1 » Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:22 pm

North Wiedna wrote:
Soviet Post Punk wrote:oh sorry i didn't realise i was speaking to a bunch of lazy writers.

i didn't realize i was speaking to someone who doesn't know how to write efficiently

there's a difference between being a good writer and thinking you're a good writer. writing a lot doesn't make you better. saying "the spherical rubber plaything reflected light of longer wavelengths, which is to say it is of a reddish color" is fucking stupid, just say "the ball is red". concision of language is important if you want natural flow.

there's a reason why point 1 in my copy of The Elements of Style is "form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's". they do this because saying "the friend of Charles" is unnecessarily long when you have the option of saying "Charles's friend"

of course the elements of style isn't a rulebook, it's a guidebook, but it's a good guide, and anyone who follows at least some of its principles will probably get at least some knowledge of prose.


I think JRR Tolkien needs to learn this about his descriptions of natural scenery... one of the reasons why I had to stop reading his stuff...

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Faolinn
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Postby Faolinn » Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:37 pm

The faeries actually took on many different appearances. Leperchauns, Pookas, Pixies, Cat Sidhe, Leanannsidhe, and yes even Dullahans and Banshees are examples of fae spirits. The fae much like the elves were known to be were known to be, seemed to be animistic nature spirits revered by Pagans. Even the word Sidhe which is used to refer to them simply means spirit. The fae are very, very closely linked to Celtic paganism. Many fae spirits were known to be rather pleasant beings only becoming a menace when crossed or angered in some way. However not all were so and there are some fae spirits that were considered entirely malevolent. The demonization of the fae as a collective group is a result of Christian tampering.

The elves were classified in three groups. The bright elves, dark elves, and black elves. they did not have pointed ears and appeared more to be like idealized human beings in terms of looks rather than pointed eared humanoids. In some legends they were said to interbreed with humans. The God Frey was some times associated with the bright elves. In some cases the elves were invoked to heal severe wounds. The elves are distinctly Norse in their origin.

Nymphs are different in that they were related to Greek paganism and were associated with specific locations and are exclusively female. Nymphs were divided into five categories. Celestial, plant, underworld, land, and water. The nymphs depending on who you ask were either animistic sacred spirits or minor deities.

Sprites however, are a bit more ambiguous. They have their origins in northern and western European folklore but their exact origin is unknown. Some say the name is a diminutive of the Celtic Spriggan. However the term sprite was not only used to refer to fairylike creatures. It was often used to refer to any variety of spirit beings in the past.
Last edited by Faolinn on Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:30 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Meryuma
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Postby Meryuma » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:21 pm

Elves generally mean Tolkienesque elves but they can mean little tiny people with pointed ears too.

Fairies can be cute little benevolent Tinkerbell-type things or else unnaturally beautiful humanoids (perhaps shapeshifters) with alien thought patterns who live in the woods and pull cruel tricks on mortals. I find the latter more interesting myself but I guess there's a place for both.

I think of nymphs are nature spirits that live in lakes or woods. They're also unnaturally beautiful humanoids but they're less malevolent and they personify natural forces.

Pixies are little tiny people with wings who play pranks but not in a sadistic way (at least if you ask me).

Sprites can be a variety of fey. I generally think of them as small and mischievous.
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Postby Nazi Flower Power » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:24 am

Jassysworth 1 wrote:If I am writing a story and I needed a bunch of mischievous magic-users with child-like features and wings who travel in the forests... which group would that be?


Those don't really sound like elves or nymphs. Calling them fairies, pixies, or sprites would fit better.
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