?

I...

  1. like (basic/limited) pronunciation guides at the beginning or end of a book

    3 vote(s)
    15.0%
  2. dislike pronunciation guides deciding how I should pronounce names

    8 vote(s)
    40.0%
  3. appreciate an occasional footnote for variable names

    4 vote(s)
    20.0%
  4. think none of it matters, to the reader or the author ;-)

    5 vote(s)
    25.0%
  1. Ms. DiAnonyma
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    Ms. DiAnonyma Active Member

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    Name pronunciation...

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Ms. DiAnonyma, Jan 6, 2016.

    Perhaps this is more of a genre (fantasy) thing, but I was wondering about name pronunciation.
    You've gone through your process for coming up with just the right name for a character (mine have an aural evolution to the "right-sounding" name). How do you then let the reader know such things as how invented names of places and people are pronounced? An asterisk footnote for each? A full-fledged pronunciation guide at the beginning or end of the book? To be sure, you don't want sesquipedalianly awkward names to take your reader out of the story. But do you care if your character's names are pronounced correctly, and what do you do to make sure that a name like Calea is pronounced Kuh-LAY-ah (which, it turns out is technically incorrect)?Do pronunciation guides annoy you as a reader?
    I feel pretty sure most of my other, two-syllable names are nearly impossible to mispronounce- Kelten, Jorvin, Elgo, Angen, Rugo... but some, like Tajak (like Tajik with an ah), Elonia, Levazin, could conceivably be pronounced a variety of ways...
    How does your impression of a character's name affect you as a reader?
     
  2. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Does it matter?
    I don't think so. But I will admit to being biased. Most people find my name hard to pronounce and come up with all kinds of strange combinations. I just answer to whatever comes out of their mouths. Since I don't care how they pronounce my own name, I care even less how they pronounce my characters names.
    Honestly, I find it amusing to hear other pronunciations.
     
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  3. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think keeping it simple is the best approach. Calea is going to be
    a pretty name whether pronounce KAH-leya or kahLEYah. Incidentally, I don't know where the accent falls on the Bactrian names in my story, or what tones are used in the Chinese names. Robert Jordan had a glossary and pronunciation guide in his Lord of Time series, but it came at the end and was so long I quit using it.
    BTW, KhalieLa, got a GREAT professional review on the WIP, floating on cloud nine. Just a synopsis review, 40 pages plus synopses of remaining chapters. Said that unless someone else wrote the rest, a more complete edit would be waste of money... he liked what he saw and is going to read it all for fun anyway
     
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  4. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Great news @Lew ! I hope everything goes well for you!

    Incidentally, my name is pronounced: Ka - LEE - La. My boss is named Caleara, pronounced: Ka - LAY - Ra.
    I used to think my name was unique and here is a thread discussing possible pronunciations. Makes me laugh. :p
     
  5. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    This makes me think of a speech by Robert Jordan at comic con in 2007. He spent a couple of minutes explaining how to pronounce his character names, and what I remember most, was what a complete knob he was about it.
     
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  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I don't like books with difficult made up made in general, but if I saw a non-fiction book with a pronunciation guide or footnotes, I'd put it right back on the shelf. If it's likely to confuse or frustrate readers, don't do it.

    One of my characters has a real name with two common pronunciations - Lucia as Loo-SEE-ah or Loo-CHEE-ah. I was going for the first one, so on the first page of the book I had another character call her 'Luce' as a nickname. But it didn't matter if a reader still pronounced it Luchia in their heads.

    JK Rowling waited until book 5 of Harry Potter to show her readers how to pronounce Hermione, by having Hermione explain it phonetically to a foreign character. I don't think it mattered that many readers thought her name rhymed with phone until book 5.
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I will include a very short pronuciation guide at the start to a couple of my characters' names, because they are Hungarian and are not immediately pronounceable using English rules. If readers want to ignore the guide, then it won't hurt the story, but I do hope it doesn't mean they will automatically put the book back on the shelf!

    One of the things I often ignore before I start reading is a huge 'who begat whom' list of character family trees. If the reading itself doesn't make the relationships clear, THEN I'm likely to stop reading. But just having the guide there for interested parties doesn't put me off.
     
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  8. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of my characters is Marcia Lucia also. If you want to be perfectly correct in the Latin of the 1st century it would be Mark EE ya Luke EE ya, but ya know, nobody is going to care! I call her MARseeya LOOseeya, myself, as do all my readers.

    I guess if you have to use a Hungarian, Polish or Russian name, or other language that hasn't discovered how useful vowels can be in brkng *p a lng strng *f consn'nts, perhaps have a character ask "Bltzflitprc? How the heck do you pronounce that?" Otherwise keep the names simple.
     
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  9. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Must make for some interesting moments at work, between the two of you!

    I have one more editor to chime in with a positive headnod, then I am shopping for an agent who will be willing to push "The Eagle and the Dragon" at 830 pages/250K words, or maybe a bit less. Only if I can't find one will I break it up into two, probably after the jailbreak in Luoyang, and everyone trying to get home to Rome: "Head west!" "Which way? How far?" "If the rising sun is behind us and the setting sun in front of us, we're going the right direction! Don't know how far, but we will be twenty miles closer after a day of walking! "
     
  10. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    I have the same problem. Some of the words/names in my novel include Wlencing, Gwrdhwi or even Neorxnawang. How do you tell the reader how to pronounce that? If anyone's interest:
    1. Vuh-lenn-king
    2. Gur-dur-wi
    3. Nay-orcks-na-vang
    I've also seen a lot of people pronouncing "Celtic" as "Seltic". How do you tell the reader it's actually Keltic? (apart from that one sport's team who has doomed the word forever). It's the same problem with people saying "Joolioos Seize-her" when his name's actually more like "Guy-us Yool-ius Kay-zer".
     
  11. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you solved your own problem. Since the names are made up, and the spelling is made up, use the later spelling as it is close to how you want your readers to pronounce them. And sorry, I read Latin classics rather fluidly, but choose the common pronunciation of Julius Caesar, and I can't bring myself to pronounce Cicero as Kee-Ker-O. In the end, it's not how the reader pronounces the name that makes the character believable, it's how the reader feels about the character's actions.
     
  12. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    The names aren't made up.
     
  13. Ms. DiAnonyma
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    Ms. DiAnonyma Active Member

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    Well, I don't think my problem is all that bad. I've got fairly straight-forward names; some are in the thread Name Impressions (which I started to see how people might construe characters from just their names). But given the number of responses there, I'm not exactly convinced either way.
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    You're not alone. ;) My name gave me no end of grief as a child growing up in the 1970's American Mid-West. :bigmeh: Some teachers in school were grateful when I found a small moment of privacy and asked them to just call me Ray; others took it as an affront to their intelligence and continue to mangle the jinkies out of my name all year long.

    Regardless, I agree that worrying overmuch on this is a distraction for the writer. As a reader/writer, when I start noticing little things like the writer insisting on teaching me a pronunciation, no matter how deftly inserted into the narrative or actions of the characters, this is a red flag for me. I am on the defensive that the writer is by nature controlling and my personal, individual engagement of the work is is not going to be suffered. It may turn out that I'm wrong, that's it's just this one thing, but still, I'm on the defensive. That's not something I dig. Not at all.
     
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  15. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Do you have a link to this thread?
     
  16. Ms. DiAnonyma
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    Ms. DiAnonyma Active Member

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  17. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ouch! If you have to use them for historical reasons, can you just insert a few vowels? Spelling was after all, hit or miss, and a lot of them were illiterate to start with.
     
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  18. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    I can't change them in any way.
     
  19. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well I think letting the reader assume how to pronounce a given name is fine. Sometimes it would be nice to know how to say it correctly if it is a memorable enough character, just because it would be a nice thing to know.

    Personally I don't do that in my novel nor it's sequel, so if anyone has to ask I can have a chuckle with myself about how some of the names sound when verbally spoken. :p

    Example of a minor characters name: Sa' Bork. Say it too fast and it comes out 'Spork'. :p
     
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  20. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Glad I dealt with simpler languages like Latin, Greek, Chinese and Bactrian in my WIP! Good luck!
     
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  21. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think it probably happens all the time, but since we don't usually sit down to a conversation of "hey, how do you say this guy's name", we're not aware of it. It kinda' answers to a mild solipsism. One of the more famous names of the Science Fiction world gets pronounced quite differently (apparently) by the general American populace than the way I had always pronounced it when reading it. Up until the film version for DUNE was released, I had always pronounced Paul Atreides' surname as ah-tree-dehs (tap the R once, like in Spanish). The film version gave it as ah-tray-deez (no tapped R), and with time my own inner pronunciation changed as well. *shrug* I don't actually care which is "right" and which is "wrong" because that's a meaningless concept to me, and in the end he is forever Muad'dib, (Usul to his friends) ;)
     
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  22. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    @Wreybies You are most correct. I did not know that about the MC of Dune, very interesting. The dreamer has awakened! :p
     
  23. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Never having seen the film, I thought it was ah-try-uh-deez...(the "-uh-" is a VERY soft sounding lower-case "i")
     
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  24. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Also, I refuse to pronounce Muad'dib as mod-deeb (as the film would sometimes suggest). The first part, for me, is a diphthong: mwad-deeb (as the film also sometimes suggests, depending on who is speaking).
     
  25. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Like *blVdV-
    We know there's vowels in there, just don't know which ones! But--we're pretty sure this word means something like large carnivore, or possibly monster, though it could be whale . . . might not be Celtic at all, really . . . might be a non-PIE loan word. It all depends on what those d@mn vowels are.
    I love ancient languages.
     

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