How do you name your World? (Or nations, etc., for that matter...)
So... I've been thinking the past few days, since I posted the latest update to my "unnamed" project, about how you name a world.
I've been trying to consider, as my touchstone, how we come up with names for our world, and what different people throughout history have called our planet.
Earth, for instance, is from germanic roots, meaning "dry ground" or "soil", and anciently seems to have been considered a synonym for middangeard (i.e. midgard) or "Middle Earth" or the "Middle World", which is what ancient norse people called our world. Here our world is named after what it's made of, or the part that we can live on, anyway. This has become the predominant name for our planet simply because English has become some predominant.
The word "World" is from other germanic roots, and means "Age of Man", and basically names our world after ourselves, since we consider ourselves the principal actors in it.
In ancient Greece, it was called Gaia, after the greek cthonic, primordial diety whose body forms our world. The Latin cognate was Terra Mater ("Mother Terra" or "Mother Earth"). In most latin countries, some variant of "terra" is still the name for our world.
And that's about the limits of my knowledge for the names of our world, but I know there must be other names for it out there.
Which made me wonder what people in my own world would call it, and why. I'd mulled over the name "Skein of the Seven", which refers to the world as the raw materials from which the primary pantheon worshipped in a certain part of the world weave the threads that become the lives of men. This name is culturally specifc and has an in-world meaning, but is pretty geographically narrow (most other cultures don't worship this same pantheon). So... should I consider multiple names, as filtered through multiple cultures.
It also got me thinking about the story of the name itself. I've given the above-name a story, and I think most names do have such stories behind them. And I think there's two sides to that story: there's the part that's the real true history of the name, and there's the part that's passed down through cultural exchanges as the "learned" history of the name. Sometimes those are the same, sometimes they're not, and sometimes the second one - the cultural story of the name - actually fails to get passed down at all.
So... with that opening salvo of my thoughts, what are your thoughts? How do you come up with the names for your worlds, nations, whatever? Why? Do those names mean anything to you, or to the people who populate your world? What does it mean, and why?