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On Foreign Names, Old Maps, etc. - RonO's Ramblings — LiveJournal

Oct. 19th, 2009 03:08 pm On Foreign Names, Old Maps, etc.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been thinking around an idea for an RPG spy adventure set in 1986. Having some free time this afternoon, I was poking around on the next trying to find some useful information. Of course I'm running into difficult to quickly find information.

First, I went to see if I could find an online source that would show me street maps from 1986 for L.A. or, ideally, much of Southern California. Of course everyone online is trying to give me the most up to date data, and even if they have the older data, they don't seem to want to make it available. I may just have to made educated guesses what was as wasn't around 23 years ago.

One positive response, and not to surprisingly, I was quickly able to confirm that 1986 would be a good year to use. While it was after Gorbachev was General Secretary (defacto leader of the USSR), it was before Glasnost making much of what was going on at least appear to be "business as usual" from the outside. (I lived through that era and was in college, but the exact years do take some double checking).

But my next query started coming up a bit dryer. I wanted to find a woman's name that would have the same initials as Главное Разведывательное Управление (Glavnoje Razvedyvatel'noje Upravlenije or GRU). I did find a decent reference on Russian names which pretty much confirms what I knew -- the third name would be a family name, and the second name would be a patronymic. But finding a common woman's name that begins with "Г," a common man's name that begins with "Р" and a common family name that begins with "У" has proven to be more difficult. Actually, I did find family names.

On the other hand, finding the actual Cyrillic for GRU (and KGB and probably most of the others I'd want) was just a simple search in wikipedia.

Of course, if I wanted to continue to be authentic, I'd have to also find at least a few Polish names -- both names that would be in use by Polish consular officials during the mid-eighties, and a Polish family name that would make sense for an immigrant entering the US early in the 20th century. I think I have an OK handle on American names (if nothing, I've got access to lists of common names and a program that combines them nicely).

Then again, when all is said and done, just making something that looks/sounds good might well be more than good enough.


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Date:October 20th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
Your best bet for the first is probably to check thrift, yard sales, and people who've lived here forever for a 1986 Thomas Guide. That was their first year, from what I see on their site, so I don't know how common they are.

For the woman's first name, I suggest Galina -- Галина. I don't have a source to hand, but I think it wouldn't have come to mind if it weren't reasonably common. It's possible that it's only historically common, rather than currently common, though. I don't think any of the R names are terribly common, but there are several listed here: http://www.behindthename.com/nmc/rus.php -- maybe Romanovna, daughter of Roman. That's Романовна in Cyrillic.