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Some toponyms change over time:
Be it by pronunciation (Los Angeles, New Orleans) or by changing the wording/spelling to either make more sense to the speaker (the London district "Elephant and Castle" from "La Infanta de Castilla") or no sense in current language at all (like German München/Munich, from old German/Latin apud Munichen = near the monks).


I have a dystopian setting in the remains of NYC post WW3.
I am looking for a name that is rooted in the location while emphasizing how distinct it is from our world (an archipelago).


My approach was to spell the pronunciation of the acronym NY (New York City) as a written out name that could have naturalized over time, with the C having developed into Sea, misheard over generations and much more plausible for the speakers in this world. (One written word, only normal letters, no phonetic alphabet, maybe a stress for accentuation).

However, as a non-native-speaker I was unsure about the inconsistent English spelling/pronunciation. Furthermore I had heard the y pronounced differently (as i and as uh). Therefore I chose to ask the question here to the language experts and native speakers and not on Worldbuilding Stack.


As it turns out, NY(C) is not commonly used.This actually makes sense as it does not shorten New York in spoken language (compared to LA for Los Angeles). In fact, NY seems even more laborious to pronounce than New York.
I am still wondering whether to nonetheless go with this approach (to keep the sea as part of the name). The written abbreviation NYC exists in "historic" texts so there is the possibility (even though not the likelihood) that this name got picked up by the survivors.
My favourite NYC-rooted version had been the Enway Sea (thx to cpit): A name fit for an interregional trading post on the trade routes of merchants from everywhere, bound for the floating markets on the massive, protected square body of water in the heart of the archipelago. The en could either be pronounced like the English pronunciation of en route, maybe even having the written name bastardized to Onway Sea. I even thought about pronouncing it the Away Sea, based on the (Canadian) French pronunciation of en (route). This offers interesting connotations to the vanishing of the old city and the oasis it offers as resting place for travelling merchants in the middle of the ocean. This will depend on the influence of the Canadian merchants and culture on the trading post.

While making up my mind I might go with a descriptive synonym, maybe the city that (forever) sleeps (under the surf) or sleeping beauty.

Thanks for your all your input, correction, inspiration and help.


Honorable mentions

  • The archipelago of Enwy / the Enwy Sea, thx to cpit
  • The archipelago of Anwai / the Anwai Sea, thx to cpit
  • The archipelago of Enwigh / the Enwigh Sea, thx to juhasz
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    The question seems to be primarily a request for fiction-writing advice, which is outside the domain of this site. A small part of it is about the actual pronounciation of the abbreviation, but that part seems to be incidental to the purpose of the question. – jsw29 Feb 25 at 22:29
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    As an aside, "en masse" is (in English) pronounced with a distinct 'n'. As this is fiction, anything goes, you can name it what you want. Looking for justification for some future possible pronunciation is gonna draw out a lot of opinions mostly about what 'sounds good'. – Mitch Mar 15 at 21:48
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    It's currently pronounced "en wye sea" by Americans. But over time, names have a curious tendency to be turned into actual words – consider White's Town in New York, which has been altered to Whitestone, as in the Whitestone Bridge. So maybe you could call it the "Endway Sea". (This idea is partly inspired by Tim Powers, who in a novel set in the future turned Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles into "Wool Shirt".) – Peter Shor Mar 18 at 15:01
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    As others have noted, no one really says NYC — people say LA, KC, and DC, and to a lesser extent SLC and ATL, but New York is simply "New York" or "the [C]ity." A more realistic progression might be found in the neighborhood, borough or suburb names, as Brooklyn has long been spoofed as Bwooklin and Long Island as Lawn Guyland and so on. What is Yonkers in 200 years? Turtle Bay? Spuyten Duyvil? – choster Mar 18 at 23:02
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    @choster: that could possibly change in the future, so having the "Endway Sea" still would make a nice puzzle for readers. – Peter Shor Mar 28 at 0:53