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> March 2011: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms / A Name Pronunciation Guide
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Mar 26, 2011 11:01AM
Often when I am reading (especially fantasy) I come across foreign or unfamiliar words and names where the pronunciation is not clear. When this happens, I usually stop for a moment, try out a couple different ways of saying it, decide what I like best and try to stick with that for the rest of the book. There have been times the names were so strange and convoluted that I just gave them my own nickname or read it as the initial to prevent getting distracted or stumbling over it in my head all the time. I was checking out N.K. Jemisin's blog and was delighted to find a pronunciation guide to the names. Although I agree with the author when she says it doesn't really matter, I still love knowing how the author intended the names to be spoken (I remember reading one in a book once and I loved that they would include it...maybe Jordan in his Wheel of Time series?) and seeing how my pronunciation was the same or different. For most of them mine was different (Yayn, SIGH-eh, ih-TEM-pas...).
I've included the post and the link for anybody else who's interested.
From the author's blog:
A Name Pronunciation Guide for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
I’ve gotten a few questions lately from readers about how to pronounce the names in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. The truth is, I don’t care how you pronounce them; it’s fiction, it’s not like any real people will be offended. But I know some people like to be precise, so I’ll share how I’ve been pronouncing them:
Yeine: YAY-neh (Yes, two syllables. This seems to be the biggest point of confusion.)
Sieh: see-ay (no particular emphasis on either syllable)
Kurue: KOO-roo-ay, rolled “r”
Zhakkarn: jah-KARN (I prefer using the Mandarin pronunciation of the “zh”, though I don’t always get it right myself. Just sounds prettier.)
Itempas: ee-tem-pahs (no particular emphasis)
T’vril: Tuh-VRIL (yes, I know there should be like a glottal stop there, but it’s a PITA to pronounce, so I don’t)
Ras Onchi: RAHS ON-chee
Wohi Ubm: WO-hee OO-bum
Mar 26, 2011 07:43PM
Thanks for posting this! Weird names drive me crazy.
Mar 29, 2011 12:12PM
My problem was the reverse. I was listening to the audiobook so I knew how to pronounce the names. What I didn’t know was how to write them:)
Thanks for posting this list!
Btw, I like the sounds of these names:)
Mar 30, 2011 07:22AM
I have mixed feeling about authors providing pronunciations. It was fun reading Tolkien's appendices and figuring out how to pronounce the different languages. But since, I prefer to play with the words myself and decide how I want to pronounce a name from my experience, despite an authors opinion.
It's like having an author tell you what a book or part of a book is supposed to mean. It takes me out of the equation. Any good book will allow me to bring my life and experiences into its interpretation. I don't like being forced down a path.
Mar 30, 2011 02:39PM
Kernos wrote: "I have mixed feeling about authors providing pronunciations. It was fun reading Tolkien's appendices and figuring out how to pronounce the different languages. But since, I prefer to play with the ..."
Your post reminded me of when I was in primary and secondary school and was supposed to answer the question: “What did the author want to say?”. Usually, I got it all wrong. It has always been so much more fun for me to interpret the book in terms of my own experiences and feelings.
Mar 31, 2011 09:06AM
I saw this web site mentioned on the news regarding the odd regional pronunciations of towns and peoples names. The site is Forvo.com. It has Audio Pronunciation files and dozens of languages to choose from.
It might not help with made up languages but I always fumble when trying to figure out Gaelic & Asian based names so I've book marked this site.
Mar 25, 2017 04:52AM
Thank you so much for posting this. I was going back and forth in my brain with different pronunciations, and it was driving me nuts. It shows a lack of consideration on Jemisin's part to write phonetically confusing names without including pronunciation tips.
I had a a similar complaint about the sessapinae in
The Fifth Season
. She kept referencing them without enough context for the reader to know what they were. I thought they were external organs until I checked the appendix.
On a related note, when my dad was little, he thought that the Sioux and the Si-ox were separate Indian nations.
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