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Topic: Fantasy--name confusion?

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Subject: Fantasy--name confusion?
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 9:24 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
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Hello again, fellow writers. I have created (at least, I'm pretty sure I created it *grin*) a name, and I need some input.

 

The name is "Breaguth"--sort of a mishmash of "Breag" which I think means "Lie" in Irish Gaelic, and "Guth" which I think means "throat." It is for a dragon, not a human. My question is this:

I know names are more important in writing books than a lot of people might think. A name that is too foreign, or isn't pronounced like it is spelled, can be distracting to the reader, and that, we all know, isn't a good thing. So if you were reading about a dragon named Breaguth, would the pronunciation "BRAW-guth" (soft "u") distract you? Or should I go with something more like "BREE-guth"--like "read" or "leaf?"

"BRAW-guth"--the more authentic pronunciation in terms of the Irish, I think. The word Breag is said, "Brawg," I think. Is the spelling too different from the way it sounds?

 

Keep in mind that this is for a (male) dragon, not a human.

 

What do you think? Thoughts, please!

 

Blessings,

HML

 

 

 

 



Last Edited on: 12/4/08 1:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 5
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 9:53 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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"BREE-guth"--like "read," or, "peat." (BTW, "u" in "guth" is pronounced like "rust," or, "cut," not like the name, "Ruth," --in all three choices.) This one is more like the way the name looks, but I'm still not sure.

That is how I would pronounce it, as long as the word fits in the world you create then its not an issue.

Date Posted: 12/4/2008 1:06 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
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Thanks, Pam L! (By the way, I changed my original post around a little bit, so don't get confused because your quote is different from my post. :-)

 

I appreciate it!

 

HML

Paul H. (PaulH) - ,
Date Posted: 12/5/2008 9:59 PM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2008
Posts: 146
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When it come to pronunciation, as the author you really don't have any control how the reader is going to hear a made up name or word in his/ her own head.  When I first read yours above, my mind actually pronounced it as BRAY-guth, which isn't any of the options you offered!  Although on second thought the spelling that way would be Brae, not Brea.  But that just illustrates further what I'm trying to say... the words people are going to see and hear are not necessarily what you originally intended.  My friends have often speculated (and argued) about how names should be pronounced... i.e. something as deceptively simple as Tanis Half-Elven in the Dragonlance books.  TAH-nis, or TAY-nis?

Personally I wouldn't worry about how others pronounce my fantasy characters' names.  More importantly is to make sure the name isn't so complicated that it slows the reader down trying to figure it out every time it's mentioned.  (As Superman fans can sympathize with... Mr. Mxyzptlk, anyone? ;)

Other things to watch out for is having two characters with similar names.  My first time reading LOTR as a kid I had a heckuva time trying to keep Sauron and Saruman straight.  Or using names that are actual recognizable words.  I once had a character named Cameo in a story, and an editor told me in no uncertain terms NOT to do that!  A name like that can cause confusion to readers (in his opinion, anyway - but I've followed his advice ever since).



Last Edited on: 12/5/08 10:11 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/6/2008 9:32 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
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My Dad said he thought it should be BRAY-guth too. :-)

Well, I know that I don't have really any control over how readers pronounce it--but I was reading a book once (one of those "setting-first" writers who has a ton of people and place names, and put a glossary in the back) in which some of the fairly simple names weren't pronounced the way they looked. The MC's father was named, "Mahnum." But it was supposed to be pronounced, "Marnum." That threw me off, because I had been pronouncing it wrong for several chapters. (And I am not the sort of person who pauses to flip to the glossary every time a new character appears!) I think, for Breaguth, I will just let readers decide for themselves.

I do generally give my characters names aren't that alike--and even if they sound similar, they will look different--which I think works because the reader is seeing it, not hearing it. I have three characters whose names start with the, "k," sound--but one is Qu, one is Kw, and one is C. They all look pretty different. I know what you mean, though! And I definitely try to avoid it.

In the series, "Ranger's Apprentice," there is a character named Halt, and that is the only name I've seen, I think, that is actually a word, but I didn't mind it. :-) I guess it depends on what word it is that you're using for a name.

Thank you so much for your opinion--I always find your comments helpful!

Blessings,

HML

Date Posted: 12/6/2008 1:39 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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I actually pronounce Tanis as TAN-is   LOL

I LOVE books that show how to pronounce the names, so maybe you could add that to the front of the book. :)

 

Date Posted: 12/6/2008 9:22 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
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I like those books too--as long as it isn't overdone. I don't like books where you have to look up every name in the glossary, though. :-) And I haven't read the book, but I think TAH-nis looks better to me. :-)

 

HML

Date Posted: 12/7/2008 12:15 AM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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When I was reading the post, before I got to the suggested pronunciations, I had been reading it BRAY-guth, with the -guth sounding like the name Gus spoken by someone with a speech impediment (sorry, couldn't think of a better way to express that at the moment lol). 

Pronunciations can be such a sticking point for readers, especially if the book has a sort of World as Myth quality, creating a completely fleshed out universe of itself.  Ultimately I think they'll either hear the words in their head whichever way they want, or out of loyalty to the work choose to correct themselves, but either way it's hardly going to make or break the story.  It'd only be dangerous to the book if the names were unpronounceable, or unpleasant enough that people would prefer not pronouncing them. 

For what it's worth, Braeguth sounds like a fine dragon's name to me, regardless of how it's said.  It reads well and looks quite appropriate for a non-human character.

Date Posted: 12/8/2008 8:05 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 123
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James L,

  Y' know what? I really like your suggestion. Everyone I've talked to says that they pronounced it the same way! Hm. I am going to play around with other spellings of roughly the same name, and I'll definitely put Braeguth on the list!

 

Thank you so much, everyone. Big help!

 

Blessings,

HML