Read it Aloud, I Dare You

You may be on the downward spiral if you realize your Author’s Note has become a pronunciation guide, and it’s going on seven pages.

Canaries, how do you say those McFlamer’izith’elf apostrophes in names?

3 thoughts on “Read it Aloud, I Dare You

  1. lol. Yes, manga is more or less unpronounceable, unless you find one of those nice, easy ones with short, short vowel+consonant+vowel names. When I was reading the Silmarillion, there wasn’t any notes about pronunciation guides, so I just read it how I thought it sounded, only to find out after finishing it that Maedhros is actually pronounced “Maethros” not “Maedros”. I ended up mispronouncing most of them in my head.

    When reading other people’s writing with apostrophes in a name, I tend to ignore them, make ’em silent apostrophes, if the name functions without them. If I can’t drop them out, I tend to mentally drop a consonant in order to make the name recognizable. When I read fantasy style names, I rarely read a name the way it’s supposed to unless it’s really short and easy, or up to three syllables of simple consonant/vowel construction. Nothing complicated. Once it gets complicated or I get consonants stuck together that don’t usually go together in English, I either abbreviate or butcher the pronunciation to something easier in my head to speed my reading up. When apostrophes show up in a name, they catch me for like the first twenty to fifty pages before I get used to them. If they’re everywhere and I can’t pronounce anything, I’m probably not going to keep trying.

    Although, I will admit, I’ve been one of those dreaded writers who uses a few apostrophes where they don’t belong in a fantasy story, although, I do have a rule of thumb of never having them in any names. I’ve used them mostly to convey language conventions not found in English. The only one that really used many apostrophes was a language where every word was made up of very separate root words combined to make a new composite word to convey a more complex idea, but there were some root words that, when combined, portions could be different root words, which would change the meaning of the word. In the written form, apostrophe shaped marks would go in between different root words, but the apostrophe is entirely silent. When spoken, context would give clues to the meaning of the compound word. So, in order to convey this in written form, I used apostrophes so if anyone is crazy enough to decode my made up language from the huge portions of translated sections to figure out the untranslated. Yes, I’m crazy. I know no one would ever decode my made up languages, but I can hope, right? Anyway, there’s a note at the beginning saying the apostrophes are silent, they’re only there to get as close as possible to my original vision of the language. No names have the apostrophes though. Only the sections where the language is being spoken untranslated.

  2. Love it!! Even though it’s not the same genre, you can definitely throw in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series and all the impossible Swedish place-names.

  3. I admit, I have to agree with this one but I’m also guilty of it. I work in a museum and was so used to hearing the name “Asahel” (every day, in fact) that I just assumed it was easy to say and that everyone said it the same way.

    Oh, how I have learned. 🙂

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