An advantage of designing my own publishing platform is that I can make sneaky edits whenever I want to earlier chapters of the book. So, I just made a change to chapter 1 of Wallachia. Marley, her mind wandering while she’s supposed to be paying attention in church, is doing a little bit of word association. In my earlier drafts it just went on and on, so I cut it down a bit, but I’ll expand it here just for “fun.”
“Wallachia” (wool-ay-kee-uh) comes from a proto-German word Walhaz meaning “stranger.” Wales gets its name from the same word. Basically it was just their word for any foreigner. The word Wallachia is an exonym, meaning a word for a country used by non-residents. Wallachians didn’t call their land “Wallachia,” it was Țara Românească. Internally, they were Romanian, not Wallachian.
(In the book I just use Wallachia, anyway, because it’s better branding and provides some separation between modern Romania and my fictionalized version of the country from 200 years ago.)
So to themselves they were Romanians, but there’s another word, Romani, which refers to people of northern Indian origin who were treated as at best second-class citizens and at worst, slaves. A derogatory term for them is “gypsy,” which comes from the mistaken thought that they were from Egypt. Another derogatory term is țigani, which comes from a Byzantine Greek word meaning “untouchables.”
A number of Romani people live near the village in the book and interact with the townspeople frequently. They’re not treated as equals but, as the story starts, I don’t depict any direct mistreatment of them. In chapter six, I start to shift that. Radu refers to them as țigani, not Romani, which is how everyone else has referred to them up until that point. Going forward, you start to hear the derogatory term used more often, first from the “bad guys” but then more often from other characters as the term starts to take over. (Theme: vampires are bad, but so is racism.)
Anyway, I had planned this all out but in chapter one I only had Marley’s internal monologue refer to “gypsy,” so I’ve added the other word in there as well just to have it make an appearance earlier, and to maybe help readers make a connection between the three words: Romani (correct) and gypsy and țigani (derogatory).