Such things are pretty much a stock in trade of writing, of course, but now I’ve got an authorial one, and I’m not quite sure yet what to do with it. In a nutshell, I have to decide terminology.
My characters have a single word for a certain concept that does not match our word for it: this is for reasons that will later have relevance. However, in order to load the word with the correct immediate baggage in English, I have to equate their word and our word somehow. If I just use our word, then when certain things are revealed, things embedded in their word won’t have come across to the audience. If I use only their word, I have to take special care to load it with all the right baggage in a lot of early description so that I can be sure people are carrying it around, and then everyone is likely to see some things coming a mile off. But, if I use the two words interchangeably (which would at first glance seem reasonably sensible), I set up the false impression that the two concepts can be distinct in their language – which for my characters is not the case.
It’s a knotty little problem, though not one I urgently need to solve due to that wonderful thing that is the tool of find/replace: I can locate every reference in either terminology with ease. So I’m not fussed about it immediately, but in the long term, that’s something I’m going to have to work out… and it’s interesting. At least, I think it’s interesting.
Right now, I incline to thinking the best way to go about it is to stick almost exclusively to their word and try and load the baggage as subtly as possible so nobody notices I’m not putting their boxes on the cart they think I am. But maybe I’m wrong. Can anyone out there think of any relevant examples? Good or bad — what to avoid is as useful a piece of information as hints on what to attempt!