So one of the things I’m doing with the new series is basing the dominant ~European religion on Judaism, instead of going with the usual default of pseudo-Christianity. Which leads, of course, to me having to make lots of decisions about random worldbuilding details. I’ll talk about those more later, probably — I’m having an interesting time extrapolating both a nineteenth-century form of Temple-based worship, and a widespread state-religion form of rabbinic Judaism — but one of the most obvious flags on the reader’s end is the names of things.
See, in light of the aforementioned extrapolations, I don’t want to make the reader think this is supposed to be straight-up Judaism, as it was practiced in the real-world nineteenth century. Because of this, and because the main character comes from a British-equivalent country, I’m mostly using English-language variants on the Hebrew names for things; for example, they have a holiday that corresponds to Purim, but I’m calling it “the Casting of Lots” instead. (Insert lots of thoughts here about how English terms and concepts from Christianity are often unmarked and can therefore be read as “generic,” but terms and concepts from other religions are marked and therefore assumed to be referring specifically to the real-world version.)
This method currently falls down in two particular places: the name for the ~Hebrew language, and the name for the religion itself. My current placeholder for the former is “Ivrit,” which is, yes, the name of Hebrew in Hebrew. (Presuming Wikipedia hasn’t lied to me.) I cannot keep this, unless I want it to be an in-joke for the Hebrew readers in my audience. The current placeholder for the latter is “[Judaism],” because the one time I referred to the religion as a whole I was tired and just wanted to get the night’s writing done instead of bogging down on naming. I cannot keep this, period.
Suggestions for either one? I can’t read the Hebrew alphabet well enough to do my usual thing, which is to look up semi-random words and then fiddle with them until I get something I like. The language could be based on the real Hebrew word for “speech” or something in that vein, following the common tendency in some parts of the world for a tribe’s name to simply mean “the People.” The religion . . . I dunno. A currently-unsold book idea of mine has already laid claim to the word “Messianism,” which I kind of feel works better for ~Christianity anyway, given the different attitude toward the whole Messiah thing. I need something that can be used to refer to both the Temple-based form of the religion and the rabbinic offshoot (which in this setting occupies the role of the Protestant Reformation, in terms of dividing up ~Europe along religious lines.) Not sure what would work for that.