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Author Topic: Vocabulary question
trousercuit
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I'm looking for a word to use instead of "Cardinal." The main problem with "Cardinal" is that it connotes Catholicism, which isn't correct because my story takes place on another planet. These are the connotations I'm looking for:

1) Religious leadership (top or near-top)

2) Pomp and ceremony

3) Loose religious structure underneath

4) Possibly magical power

#3 means that those below the person in the hierarchy are loosely-organized.

I think this is stumping me because some of these connotations seem to contradict each other.

EDIT: Oh, and it would be nice if the word were common enough that it could work well in the story's title.

[This message has been edited by trousercuit (edited June 26, 2006).]


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Christine
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Sounds like catholicism to me. Whether or not you use the word "cardinal" I think you are going to have some real issues with keeping this separate from that particular earth religion.

I don't honestly think there is another word to substitute there, unless you totally make one up, but then people won't know it and it iwll be meaningless in the title. If it were me, though, I would make up a word and then come up with a different kind of title altogether. Probably will be easier in the end, but that's just my opinion.


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Verdant
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I was looking for similar words and found these: Prelate, Justicar, Rector, Vicar (very anglican), Bishop, Deacon, Elder.

Hope this helps.

Good writing!


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MightyCow
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You can also make up a title, based on the focus of the religious order. If it's a military order maybe something like Warrior of the Faith, a religion based on nature might use something like Curator or Attendant (I'm thinking in terms of one who protects the holy grove for example).

If you come up with your own term, it won't have all the baggage associated with a current religion.


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Jeraliey
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"Adept"?
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Rilnian
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If you wanted an air of domination and totalitarianism in this title, how about "Warden".
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tchernabyelo
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Hierophant.

Not necessarily that common, but should be familiar to anyone with a working tarot knowledge.


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Silver3
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I second the Hierophant. (ok, it's a word I've always wanted to use somewhere... ) Seriously, it doesn't have Catholic connotations.

"High Priest" might work too, but it has a kind of low-tech feel, doesn't imply a large hierarchy, and it's sort of one-shot (you can't have "Higher Priests" unless you're going for comical effects).

[This message has been edited by Silver3 (edited June 27, 2006).]


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Robert Nowall
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From my Webster's:

car-din-al n. An ecclesiastical prince of the Roman Catholic Church, next in rank to the Pope, and a member of the College of Cardinals. Ornith. a North American finch, Richmondena cardinalis, the male bird having brilliant red plumage and a prominent crest on the head; also redbird

Also...

car-din-al, a. [L. cardinalis, <cardo, a hinge] Chief, principal, preminent; fundamental; basic; pertaining to cardinal red.

I can't think of any other religion that has cardnials, offhand...

{edited to correct an italics problem}

[This message has been edited by Robert Nowall (edited June 27, 2006).]


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Elan
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Anytime I am looking for a collection of words, I turn to Dr. Goodword's Alpha Dictionary. You will find a largish collection of specialty dictionaries on that site, including a Dictionary of Religion.

I also check out the Florilegium.org site and the Tesarta.com site.


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wbriggs
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"Cardinal" wouldn't bother me, although you might want to get creative instead.
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trousercuit
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I kind of like "High Priest." My story is actually quite low-tech. The idea is that magic, though it has costs, solves enough daily problems that they haven't advanced in a hundred thousand years. Outside their little backwater, interstellar travel is common, and they've had many visitors, who occasionally leave behind technology.

There's a hierarchy, and while it's strict and deep around the capital and the Temple, it's loose and very wide outside of it.

Comic effect isn't bad, either.

Hierophant makes me think of elephants, which is enough of a mental block that I couldn't use it on Cardinal (High Priest?) Thradt. (Do the priests just below him call him "Your Higherness?" Heh.) It's a cool word, though, which I might just wedge in somewhere... maybe a fat guy...

Elan: Bookmarked within a femtosecond. That's totally awesome.

MightyCow: I think I'll give the king a few names like that. Great idea.


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Whitney
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'Your Eminence', maybe? I've always loved that one. Reminds of a pompous, stodgy religous type.
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Survivor
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Put "arch" and "eccliesia" or "heiro" along with "phant" or other such things into it.

I'd go with Heirarch at first blush, though Heirophant also works.


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trousercuit
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Archphant? Heh.

Thanks everybody! I finally named the guy. He goes by "Your Eminence" and "m'lord" most of the time, but his full titles (the King occasionally makes up new ones for him) are "High Priest of the Inconsequent," "First Prelate of the Piddling," and a few others.


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Corky
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Weren't they called "cardinals" because they wore red?

Could you name your religious leader after some other animal that they reminded people of? (Say, for example, you had a bunch of Aztec priests who went around in jaguar-skin cloaks. You could call them Jaguars, couldn't you?)

So how fancy would they look in their ceremonial robes? Could you have some creature on your planet that is powerful and intimidating and dignified (like an eagle or a lion, or a combination--a gryphon?) that you could name them after?


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Robert Nowall
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The other way round. Cardinals (the bird) are called that because, being colored bright red, they look Cardinals (the princes of the Catholic Church)in their traditional red ceremonial robes.
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Mig
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Try making up your own unique word and invest it with your own history (backstory) and meaning. And let the story show all the elements you want the name to connote. What have you chosen to call the religion in your story? Try making up a word that "fits" with the name for the religion. I don't read much fantasy, so I can't think of any literary examples for this approach.
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J
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Your priest could insist on being called "His Excellency" or "Your Excellency", like George Washington did.
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Elan
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Personally, I'm quite fond of "Grand Poobah."
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Kilgore__Trout
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I kind of like "hierophant", greek for "holy speaker/presenter". You can also make up your own word from dead languages, such as "orthophant", meaning "straight/correct speaker/presenter". It wont be in any dictionary, but many will still be able to translate it correctly from its root words. It worked for "Xenocide".

Although, if you're creating a whole different world, then why not create its own dead languages to go along with it, and base the titles off of it, instead of those of an Earthly origin?

Maybe the religion or culture sees particular animals as being noble, wise, or powerful and gives its leaders titles that are based off of those animals. The title can lead back into interesting mythological stories in the religion.

Also, consider the geography of the region. What are the people's major sources for sustanence? Those are the things they will start out worshipping, which will later develop and be channeled into deeper beliefs when the people have deeper questions that need answered. How did the magic on this planet originate, and why are only a few able to perform it? The title can lead back to the answers of these questions.


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Leigh
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What about "Abbot"?

I noticed no-one suggested abbot, and it's not widely used or even uncommon. It may suit your story nicely.


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pooka
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It's too prosaic, though. But so are the titles that tc seems to have devised, so that's not really an issue.
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oliverhouse
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Stick with "High Priest" and similar derivatives. "Priest" has been used in Jewish, Christian, and pagan traditions, so most people you're writing for will get what you mean; but using "High" or "Arch" or some other superlative in front of it makes it clear it's not Claude Clergyman.

"Abbot" strikes me as a little bit off. Although derived from "Abba", meaning "father" (just as "Pope" was derived from "papa"), it's more monastic in character. The monks didn't even need to be priests, as I understand it. And since there are so few around these days, it'll automatically give you an old-fashioned feeling.

I'm Catholic, and nothing in the rest of what you wrote sets me off. Lots of religions have had people in funny hats, sitting in big chairs, working the minions.

Regards,
Oliver


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