This is the word used in Lyra's world for brandy.
Brandy is short for "brandywine", which comes from the Middle Dutch "brantwijn" meaning distilled wine.
Could this be a nod to that other great Oxford fantasy author, J.R.R. Tolkien, whose Middle-earth included a "Brandywine" river?
John Calvin (1509-1564) was one of the leaders (along with Martin Luther) of the Protestant Reformation, the movement that established Protestantism as a constituent branch of Christianity, in opposition to the doctrine and rituals of Catholicism.
In Lyra's universe John Calvin is Pope, suggesting that Calvinism has combined with, or even replaced, Catholicism to create the Magisterium.
Geneva was the unofficial capital of the Protestant Revolution. Calvin left his native France after a backlash against Protestants, fleeing to Basel in Switzerland. He eventually settled in Geneva, where he led the church and took control of the city council.
It is illegal to kill swans in the UK, except by royal permission. They are the property of the ruling monarch and are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
This is how particle physics is referred to in Lyra's world.
Lyra's world often seems backward in comparison to our own, with its reliance on steam power, patriarchal society and limited air travel, and yet they have a modern understanding of a complicated branch of science.
While most of the Irish and Gypsy travellers of our world live in caravans or trailers, there are some who still live in house boats. As John Faa will later hint, they still battle with local government over their use of the waterways.
The website Gypsy Traveller provides a lot of information, including details of local horse fairs such as the one where we are first introduced to Ma Costa and the gyptian people in the novel.
In Jewish folklore, a golem is an anthropomorphic creature made entirely from an inanimate substance – clay in this case.
Jericho lies on the northwest edge of Oxford, adjoining Port Meadow, and is today a pleasant residential area.
Originally it was an area just outside the city walls where travellers could find accommodation if they reached Oxford after the gates were closed.
The Isis is the name by which the section of the River Thames that runs through Oxford is known.
In Victorian times, it was held that Isis was the correct name for the river as far downstream as Dorchester, where it meets the River Thame and becomes the "Thame-isis" (abbreviated to Thames).
Ordnance survey maps still label the Thames as the "Thames or Isis" down to Dorchester, but this has lost common usage outside of Oxford.
Presumably Lyra means Latin.
This is the only mention in the entire His Dark Materials trilogy of a person having a human-formed dæmon. Dæmons are otherwise exclusively animal-formed.