30 Days of Balance #25: Pronunciation + Pronunciation Keys

I’m hopping a few days ahead of schedule, but my cover is coming tomorrow and I want to fit in my favourite topics prior to April 5th: The Birth of Imbalance.

Pronunciation is one of the best things about fantasy novels. Some people hate it, finding all the strange names intolerable and all the extra apostrophes silly, but I find a great amount of joy in the game. Fantasy names are weird. They’re foreign. If they are not like this it usually grates on me greatly (for example, all the simple our-world names of Kingkiller Chronicles – especially when the protagonist has one of the awesomest fantasy names in ‘Kvothe’ – or the ungainly ‘Kyle’ from Ian Cameron Esslemont [long story that one]).

I love the power that comes with reading a name. It is mine to say aloud. If I want to pronounce ‘Daenarys’ as ‘Day-nair-E-us’ or ‘Dan-air-E-us’ it is up to me (unless HBO says otherwise, and even then it is still up to me.) The author can pronounce it one way and readers another. It is written. It has no breath to speak of beyond your own. I noticed this recently listening to the Grim Tidings Postcast featuring a two-part interview with Joe Abercrombie where, in reference to a new character from the upcoming short story collection Sharp Ends – ‘Shevediah’, the hosts kept saying ‘Shev-eh-DIE-ah’ and Abercrombie kept saying ‘Shev-EH-dee-ah’.

No live discussion of a fantasy novel is complete without both people being completely confused because they pronounce a name differently and can’t figure each other out.

For the ‘ell of it, here is a brief pronunciation key for Purge of Ashes’s 3 most baffling monikers:

Asma(thalyne) Madrejingo – [ACE-ma(tha-line) Madra-JING-go]

Rafien Jorgamund – [RAY-fee-en YORG-a-mund]

Xi’ar Chukkundah – [Zire Chuck-KUN-dah]

and for fun,

Arch Deacon Kravroar Bryce Matmas Slyne – [CRAV-roar Brice Mat-mus Sline]

JM

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