Hi there, I’m writing a Marvel fanfic incorporating the concept of daemons from Phillip Pullman’s series His Dark Materials, and I (not being Jewish) don't know if I should give Jewish characters' (Spider-Man, Thing) daemon names from Hebrew or Yiddish, or not? I absolutely do not want to step on any toes so if you say not to I will respect that. Thanks for helping all of us out, you're doing an amazing job!
How to name a Jewish character’s daemon in a Pullman fanfic
It’s been a while since I read Pullman but I just pulled up the character list on Wikipedia, and it looks like there’s a kind of fast and loose correlation between the daemon names and the character background. The posh, educated English people have Greco-Latin daemon names; the Finnish witch’s daemon has a Finnic name; the poor kid running the streets of Oxford has a daemon (Ratter) that’s just an Anglo-Saxon word, etc. A lot of daemons aren’t explicitly named so it’s hard to see how strict this correlation is, though.
The exceptions are the leader of the in-universe Rroma group who has a vaguely Greek-named daemon—but as he’s an educated, high-status character I guess this makes sense—and the two characters from “our universe” who begin the story without daemons and later acquire them. In their cases, the daemon names seem to come from the languages of the region of the world in which the daemon was acquired/manifested/whatever. One character, Will, comes by his daemon in that world’s Finland or Sápmi and so the daemon’s name is pretty clearly Finnic (given by the aforementioned witch IIRC).
The other gets his daemon in Siberia or Tatarstan and the daemon has a Turkic name. So, basically the daemon’s name seems to be roughly correlated to the linguistic background of the region and class in which it was “born,” though this seems to be conditioned on the socioeconomic status of its person, too.
The feeling I got from the daemons are that they’re a representation of the complex that combines the person’s inner feelings with the image they project to the world. It would seem slightly off for a secular Jew to have a very Hebrew name for their daemon (exception for Israelis), although for someone who grew up with a lot of Yiddish in their household, a Yiddish nickname could be appropriate.
With the exception of certain Orthodox enclaves–not even all Orthodox communities–Yiddish names aren’t so common anymore. Yiddish words, though, are part of our slang–Ashkies, anyway. So if your character is more secular–and Ashkenazi–a cutesy Yiddish word like Pippick (bellybutton) might make a good name, but not an actual Yiddish name name like Fruma or Gittel.
If your character is more involved in the religious aspects of Jewishness, a Hebrew name or word might be more appropriate. Hebrew for a secular character’s daemon might feel out of place, depending on the actual word.
My Pullman-reading friend who I asked for help with this commented that she wouldn’t find it weird if a Jewish character’s daemon didn’t have a Judaism-related name, btw, so don’t feel like you have to.