1. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Pronunciation guide?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by King Arthur, Mar 7, 2016.

    My novel has some names that a lot of people might find hard to pronounce, I was wondering if a pronunciation guide would be welcome at the start of the novel?

    (I myself think things should be pronounced properly, like Loch Ness and not Lock, or Gaius Iulius Caesar pronounced with a hard K rather than a S sound. But I can definitely see how a lot of people would not want to be told how to pronounce things...)
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Sounds like me with my first novel. I created some weird, whopper of a name - Ahyradne - and thought nobody would be able to pronounce it. A slur of I-rid-knee. I thought a scene where the characters try to pronounce it would solve the problem but I didn't like it.

    I decided just to leave it. Let the readers make up their own minds.

    How big is your novel, does it have maps or guide or a character directory? If so anything extra might overwhelm the reader. Then again if you're going the self publishing route the readers might be okay with it. As long as the information was kept in a directory/index at the back.
     
  3. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    There's no map as borders didn't exist yet, it's set in ~500 AD Britain. The main thing is not that people will mispronounce the names (some are very simple, like Sesyll = Cecil) but rather there are names where they won't even know where to begin:

    Gwrgi
    Culhwch
    Gwllysing
    Neorxnawang

    I don't have a character directory, the readers know the main important characters and if I ever bring a quite obscure character back into the light I just refer to them as "X son of Y", Y usually being a better known character. It works since their family names were "son of Y" and it's not out of place to call them that.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can have maps without borders, of course... I mean, if you don't need one for your book, that's fine, but I don't think the presence or absence of borders really enters into it.

    I vote against pronunciation guides, myself. I'd rather just guess, or not pronounce the names at all in my mind.

    But for the record, I'm guessing Gwergi, Culwhich, Gwillysing and... Ne-orx-na-wang.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I suspect the vast majority of readers are going to form a pronunciation in their own minds and stick with it, completely ignoring what the pronunciation guide has to say about it. I don't think there is any harm in having such a guide (if it is relatively short), but I don't think the presence of it is going to have much impact on your average reader.
     
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  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yup. I'm sticking with my guesses no matter what some stupid "guide" tells me!
     
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  7. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    'Yup. I'm sticking with my guesses no matter what some stupid "guide" tells me!'

    Except, you know. That's how they were pronounced. You got them all wrong by the way:

    Goor-gooey, Kuhl-hoo'ch, Gooey-rus-ing, Nay-orcks-na-vang.
     
  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm sticking with mine!
     
  9. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    But they're wrong.
     
  10. King Arthur
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    It's like saying you'll call all arabs "mohammed" since it's just simpler, really.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Most readers won't care. It is similar, in some ways, to works that use heavy character description. I am of the view that the reader forms an image of a character almost immediately, latching onto one or two significant traits while her mind fills in the gap for the rest. You can add all the additional description you want, but most readers are going to ignore it and maintain the image they have in their minds. Same with pronunciation - I think you can include it for those who really want to see it and maybe adjust how they pronounce words as a result, but most readers are going to skip past it, and even if they look at it they aren't going to change how they pronounce things.
     
  12. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Which is just ignorant, in my opinion.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You're entitled to your opinion, but that's not going to change how readers approach things, and I think this is probably the way the vast majority approach it (unless we're talking about non-fiction; I'm speaking of fiction here since you indicated this was a novel). Once you put the novel out there in the wild, you don't have any control over how readers pronounce names or envision characters, etc. Most of them are just reading to be entertained, and aren't going to go through the trouble of re-training the mental images or sounds they've already formed just because the author seems to want them to. There are some who will do it, though, and those would probably appreciate the pronunciation guide, so like I said there's not really much reason to leave it out if you want it there.
     
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  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Meh. It's not like these are real people - for real people, I'd bother to learn how to pronounce the names.

    But for characters in a book? A book I'm never actually going to read out loud? I'll mentally pronounce the names however's easiest.
     
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  15. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Well, they're real people and places (albeit all dead, the places still exist though).
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, if there are really odd pronunciations, or long ones (which sometimes happens particularly in fantasy), I usually come up with a shorthand pronunciation in my mind and just go with that.
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    If they're real places, and real historical people, then I think that's a better reason to have a guide. Doesn't mean all of your readers will use it, but it's nice to refer to for those who want to know how you really say those names.
     
  18. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Me too! I hate it when there are two or more unfamiliar names that start with the same letter, because often I'm just thinking of the characters as, like, S-something and T-something.
     
  19. King Arthur
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    Whereas I find it at best wrong, it can sometimes descend into downright, full-on insult (saying "karioki" instead of kah-ra-o-keh).
     
  20. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I'm worse with character descriptions. I hate it when the author starts adding in description a couple of pages after introducing the character. At best, I pass over it. At worst, it pulls me out of the story for a brief moment because it clashes with what I have in my mind.
     
  21. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Yeah, thanks.
     
  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ooh, what does Karioki mean?
     
  23. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    If you're going to troll, please try and do it on another thread.
     
  24. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What?

    I'm serious - I didn't know there was an insulting way to pronounce karaoke. What does it mean when mispronounced?
     
  25. NiallRoach
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    You're doing a very good job of biting the head of everyone who's bothering to share their opinion with you, OP.
     

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