The Sunday Salon – And, what shall I call you?

I know this happens to you so don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. 🙂 When I’m reading and I come across an oddly spelled name, or even a location, and I don’t know how to pronounce it, I make up a pronunciation in my head and that becomes the character’s name or the location. Usually for eternity because I don’t go around asking strangers how they pronounce fictional names and places. I guess that held true until I started this blog…

Why bring this up? I was participating in The Lies of Locke Lamora Read Along and one of the characters’ names was particularly odd. It was Nazca. During the Q&A time of the read along, a few fellow readers ruminated over the correct pronunciation of her name. It got me thinking about other fictional names and places I have surely pronounced wrong.

One of the books where I’m sure I’m the biggest offender of proper pronunciation is The Lord of the Rings. From a young age, I’d made up pronunciations for the characters and locations for almost everything in the books. And then the movies came out and I realized I was wrong on pretty much every name and place and everything in the movie sounded utterly wrong to me.

What do you do in situations like this? Do you make something up or research it? I don’t like to break from reading when I’m lost in a story so I go the make up a name route and keep going. If you research it, I’d be curious as to your sources.

It looks like a nice day is about to erupt here and I’m hoping for some outdoor reading time with The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. Happy Sunday all.

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10 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon – And, what shall I call you?

  1. I remember a friend and I read Harry Potter when we were younger. Naturally when we got together we would talk about the book. I remember we had a discussion about how to pronounce Hermione’s name (this was before the movie was out). It was fun ‘arguing’ how to pronounce it. I think she pronounced it something like Hermy-one, haha.

  2. I just make it up and presume that I’m right, haha. I don’t read a great deal of fantasy though, so rarely really have to deal with strange names.

    I used to pronounce Voldemort incorrectly before the film, I pronounced it “Vold-mort” and Hermoine… well I think at first I thought it would be “ermine” or something!! I’d never met anyone with that name.

    Sometimes I have trouble with Irish names. I know how they are pronounced correctly – like Siobhan but when I read them I read them how they sound.

    • Irish names throw me off too. Knowing how something is pronounced doesn’t always help me either, especially if they’re spelled nothing like how they’re pronounced.

  3. Mine’s both Irish and from Harry Potter… for years, I pronounced Seamus as “See-a-mus.” It wasn’t until my college roommate set me straight that I figured out how to say it. And I’m pretty sure she only knew because her brother’s name was Seamus.

  4. I totally make up pronunciations! I don’t usually look them up either, if some media comes out then I learn the real name, otherwise I just go with what I made up. Even reading things that aren’t fantasy, I’ll see names that I have no idea how to pronounce…I just recently learned how the name “Murtaugh” is actually said!

  5. Your post made me laugh because it IS exactly what I do. I make up something easier in my head. Like during the Lies of Locke Lamora I was thinking Nazca was ‘Naz-car’ don’t ask me why and obviously I was thinking it all wrong BUT I was blissfully happy in my ignorance. And I just went with it. The book I just read had some of the longest names I think I’ve ever seen and even put Mary Poppins ‘supercalabladebla’ to shame! Caleb’s Crossing – Caleb’s true name is Cheehahteaumauck – if he hadn’t been called Caleb throughout I would have had to shorten that name for sure (no disrespect intended but I had no idea of the correct way to say or think it).
    I think it’s probably more pronounced when you’re reading books from different settings or that have been translated – like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – all the names were a bit unfamiliar and took time to get used to.
    Good post.
    Lynn 😀

  6. Yeah, it’s kind of a first-thought-best-thought situation. But I always correct myself if I happen to hear the author pronouncing the name differently than I was doing! I do not cling to my wrong pronunciation once further information is forthcoming.

    • I’ll sometimes cling to my pronunciation even after I hear the correct one but the correct version usually wins out in the end. It just takes a minute for my brain to adjust.

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