Silence, Be Broken!

So . . . it’s been a while. :) Unintentionally, mind you.

Last November, I was doing what I called NaNotWriMo, meaning that I ignored NaNoWriMo for the first time since 2008, and instead, I decluttered my office. I made it a lot better. It’s still not perfect, but it is orders of magnitude better than it was.

And then toward the end of November some stuff happened. Real-life stuff. Stuff I won’t go into. But it was enough that I didn’t want to blog or write or do much of anything else creative. So I left the office declutterization unfinished, abandoned all my writing projects, and every time I thought I had something to say, here, I’d talk myself out of it with a very old argument. “Dude, this is a writing blog. You should write about, you know . . . writing. And since you aren’t doing that, what’s the point?”

And that is how we end up at May 7th with the first post since November 18th.

But enough about that. I have ranting to get to!


What I was wondering is: am I the only one who, while reading, lets a name that appears to have several, conflicting, legitimate pronunciations throw me out of the story?

I can’t help it. Every time I see the name, I find myself pausing and thinking “Is it Lord High Emperor of Space and Time Potayto Salaad, Potahto Salaad, or Pah-tah-toe Salaad? And is it Salahd, Sah-lah-ahd, or Sah-lah-ahd?”

Yes, this kind of thing really does bother me, and it is literally every time I run across the name while reading. It slows me down and throws me out of the book. If it’s a name like Mary or Frank or Kira or even Binbiniqegabinik, there are very limited ways it could be pronounced. And in the case of that last one, it was made clear in the book what the proper pronunciation is, if I recall correctly.

A friend posted a question on Facebook, asking if she should use ‘Kira,’ ‘Brianna,’ or ‘Brienne’ as a character name. I voted firmly for Kira, because for me, those other two would cause me to read at half speed unless a pronunciation guide were given. Is the ‘i’ in ‘Brianna’ long or short? Is the first ‘a’ like the one in ‘bat’ or the one in ‘father’? We won’t even go into ‘Brienne’ and all the different ways I could find to pronounce it. I would probably have to just mentally call ‘Brienne’ something like ‘Bree’ or reading a sentence would go like this:

Brienne [Bree-en? Bree-en? Bry-en? Bry-en? Is the final ‘e’ pronounced? Gaaah!] and Gemina [Is the ‘g’ hard or soft? Is it ‘{G|J}em-i-na’, or ‘{G|J}e-mee-na’? Gaaah!] leapt into the saddle of Brienne’s [Bree-en’s? Bree-en‘s?] steed Fnaben [Dammit.] . . .

I’m guilty of it, myself, of course. On Second Life, I’m known by the name Sathor Chatnoir. Although ‘Chatnoir’ is fairly simple if you know French pronounciation, apparently ‘Sathor’ gives people fits. To me, it’s obviously Say-thor (where ‘Thor’ is pronounced like the Norse god), but when I heard people pronouncing it (we sometimes abandon typing and actually talk), people were saying it to rhyme with Dan Rather’s last name, or pronouncing the ‘Sa’ as “sah” instead of “say.” I was totally flabberghasted because to me, it’s so obvious. :)

And yeah, I know that it doesn’t matter how a name is pronounced unless there’s some poetry involved (A Elbereth Gilthoniel / silivren penna míriel . . .). I guess all I’m saying is that I like to know. Maybe it has something to do with being raised fairly early in my reading-for-pleasure life on books like The Lord of the Rings where there is an actual pronunciation guide right there in the book to tell you that the “C” in “Celeborn” is hard, or that the second syllable of “Lothlorien” is stressed.

Anyway, it’s probably just me, and this is just a rant, but at least it’s off my chest, now, and I can get back to plotting my novels and novellas. :)


You may notice over on the right of this page three circular graphs showing progress. Those are novels I’m working on co-plotting. They are the first three novels of my MCU Case Files series, and there are a lot of interwoven plots that need to all resolve by the end of Book 3, so that’s mostly what I’m working on. The current figures are only guesses, but I had to point out the cool graphs because cool.

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Comments
8 Responses to “Silence, Be Broken!”
  1. I love this, and super happy that my question inspired it. lol I agree with you. There are times when I’m reading a book and I have the name all figured out in my own head, only to find it is pronounced so completely different! Then . . . whoops. I think about that when I write my own books, but then I don’t mind someone pronouncing a name however they like. As a reader, I do find it happens to me and it does sometimes irk me. That last name . . . wow. Interesting name.
    Ariana Browning recently posted…Things I learn when going over notes – KennedyMy Profile

    • Hehe! Do you mean Binbiniqegabenik? That one is from Tad Williams’ Dragonbone Chair trilogy. Luckily, the character had a nickname: Binabik (emphasis on the ‘na’), or I would not have made it through. :)

      Even worse, I believe Binbiniqegabenik’s girlfriend was named Sisqinanamook.

      Fnaben . . . just made me chuckle. :)
      Gary Henderson recently posted…Silence, Be Broken!My Profile

  2. Yeah…it’s even worse when you have named your child something you think would be completely obvious and everybody says it wrong. I’m guilty!
    Brenda Lowder recently posted…Movie Review – The Age of AdelineMy Profile

    • I had that happen to me recently, too. A friend named her baby Xavier, and she asked me one day how I pronounced it, and I said ‘ZAY vee ur, ‘ only to have her tell me she and her husband were saying “ex AY vee ur” (like in The X-Men franchise).

      But with names, I will pronounce it however the person pronounces it. I go to great lengths to do it, even for names that are hard for me to get right. Because it’s who a person is. :)
      Gary Henderson recently posted…Silence, Be Broken!My Profile

  3. I totally agree! I was so annoyed when I first heard Hermoine pronounced in the first Harry Potter movie. Of course, this is coming from someone with an unclear first and second name.
    Talya Tate Boerner recently posted…Bringing back the Sunday Drive…My Profile

    • Rowling even played with “Hermione” by having Viktor Krum struggle with the pronunciation, and settling on “Hermy-o-ninny.” :)

      *I* have never had a problem with ‘Talya,’ but I also heard our mothers saying it as a kid (paired with your sister, usually), so there was never the question of whether it was two syllables or three, or which one was stressed. “Boerner,” I had to have help with. :)

      And, of course, there’s also the added advantage that your name is from the real world and not a fantasy novel. Were it a fantasy-novel character name, all bets would be off. :)
      Gary Henderson recently posted…Silence, Be Broken!My Profile

  4. Listen, Sathor, stop calling the kettle black! That’s my two cents!

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