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I'm trying to create a name for a fictional 'kami' or spirit for a story and I am struggling with developing it's name. I don't want to create a name for it and then have it mean something totally ridiculous or just not make any sense. I originally posted this in the world building stack exchange, but they told me to post here.

The world is vaguely based on Japan, but it's a fantasy world not a literal representation of Japan, but all the characters have Japanese names. For the other characters I've stuck to traditional names, but for my spirit characters I wanted something a bit more unique.

(Obviously a god can't just be named the Japanese equivalent of 'bob' or something.$

I have several of these characters, so I will need to really understand how to create names for them in the future, not just this one. However, to start with: the first is a Kami that is the manifestation of 'Truth.' I'm trying to create a name for it that has a meaning like 'Truth Seeing Deity' or maybe 'One Who Sees Truth' or something similar.

The 'idea' for the name is based off the name of the shinto kami Omoikane,(思兼 or 思金) whose name I believe means 'Thought Combining Deity.' Omoi meaning 'thought' and Kane coming from the verb 'to combine?' I would like something like this, so maybe using the verb 'to see' and the noun for truth?

Something like Mi (見) and Shin (真)? So Mishin? Would that be right or does that make no sense?

I have very little knowledge of the language, and unfortunately all the research I've done has just confused me further. I'd really appreciate any help I can get, thanks!

  • Kami names are generally quite old, and as such, they do not include on'yomi. Also, Japanese is an SOV or subject-verb-object language, where the subject is often omissible -- so the verb should come at the end to sound more "Japanese-y", rather than the Chinese SVO ordering that would put the 見【み】 first. – Eiríkr Útlendi Sep 21 '18 at 17:53
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Readings

Kami names are generally quite old, and as such, they do not include on'yomi, since these readings are based on the imported Chinese terms. The shin reading for 真 is on'yomi. The native Japanese readings are called kun'yomi. A possibly better native-Japanese term using the kun'yomi and that gets close in meaning might be 本【もと】 (moto, "base, root, origin, cause"), or maybe 真【まこと】 (makoto, "real thing", from ma- "real, true" + koto "thing, saying, word").

Word order

Also, Japanese is an SOV or subject-object-verb language, where the subject is often omissible -- so the verb should come at the end to sound more "Japanese-y", rather than the Chinese SVO ordering that would put the 見【み】 first.

Suggestion

Putting it together, with a bit of punning, you might arrive at 真見神 (Makoto-mi Kami), parsing out to "truth-seeing god". The pun here is that the reading could also be spelled as 真御神 (Makoto Mikami), where mikami is an older honorific term for a kami, using the honorific prefix 御【み】 (mi-). This alternative would parse out to "truth honorable god → honorable god of truth".

  • That makes sense to use the kun'yomi, thank you. Now, if I were trying to make other names, like this one, would using the kun'yomi work or does it only work in this instance because 'makoto' is an already established name? Like trying to create a name for a Kami meaning 'destruction seeking god' being 捜破神 Sarasu Horobiru Kami? Or should I just give up on doing myself considering my level of understanding of the language? – Teanna Schmaeh Sep 21 '18 at 19:39
  • @TeannaSchmaeh, you're close, but you need to get some more grammar under your belt for these combinations to work well. What I mean by that, is that the kun'yomi is one part -- but another part is how words fit together. Sarasu and horobiru are verbs. The conjugation forms ending in -u can be used at the end of a sentence (the so-called "terminal form"), or to modify a noun (the so-called "attributive form" -- these two are generally identical in modern Japanese). But this form cannot combine immediately with another verb -- so sarasu horobiru is ungrammatical. – Eiríkr Útlendi Sep 21 '18 at 20:14
  • @TeannaSchmaeh: Horobiru is a verb meaning "to fall apart, become ruined, go extinct". To make this a noun that would (loosely) fit your sense of "destruction", conjugate the verb into its "stem form", a.k.a. "infinitive form". This form combines with other verbs and can (usually) be used as a noun. Horobiru, becomes horobi. Next, sarasu is kun'yomi, but for 曝 or 晒 ("to expose something, to fade or bleach something in the sun"). The kanji 捜 means "to look for something", but the reading for that is sagasu. Lastly, don't forget that the verb in Japanese comes after the object. – Eiríkr Útlendi Sep 21 '18 at 20:23

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