Your last-minute stupid question


So, as I’m trying to get this %% manuscript out the door…
I have this character. His Nahuatl title is cihuacoatl, and I’m not planning to use it lest I give people headaches. So I have a choice between two translations: the Snake Woman, or the Female Snake.

Although the first one is the traditional, correct Nahuatl translation, I’m afraid it will have also everyone thinking he’s a woman. But I’m not 100% up-to-date on connotations, and for all I know the second one also strongly implies a woman, too…

What do you think–Snake Woman or Female Snake/Female Serpent?

EDIT: what about “She-Snake”?


  1. I vote for “Snake Woman”. As an American (if that context helps), I’d normally assume both names described a female. But, “Female Snake” sounds particularly technical in describing the sex of the snake. I could see a case made for “Snake Woman” being taken less literally in some mystical context. Could you name him “Snake Woman Man”, perhaps? Or refer to him as “the Snake Woman man”? Sounds confusing at first, but also interesting. I hope this suggestion helps in some small way!

  2. I’d go for She-Snake.

    In ‘Snake Woman’ defining the gender of the person with the title (woman being a word exclusivly used to describe humans). Female Serpent is less species specific, but sounds like a scientific classification rather than a title.

    In She-Snake, you’re obviously defining the gender of the snake and it sounds more like a title, less like a definition.

    Mind you, titles do tend to be gender specific as, at one time, they could only be held by one gender and they don’t get changed as the times do. So perhaps you should go for Snake Woman after all!

  3. Ok, thanks a lot!
    “Snake Woman man” is going to be a worse headache than just “Snake Woman”, I suspect (my brain keeps short-circuiting every time I read this).
    I changed everything to “She-Snake”. We’ll see how my editor feels about it…

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