T10T: Names with Difficult, Strange, and/or Multiple Pronunciations

May 22, 2018


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s prompt was actually to list 10 of the best character names, but I had a hard time narrowing it down, so I went with 10 names that I think are noteworthy for being difficult to pronounce, a bit strange, or even just because people tend to pronounce them so differently (like the first one on this list, which I feel like people are VERY divided on)!

I used to think I could just check the audiobooks for pronunciations, until I learned that there are many authors who say their narrators don’t pronounce the characters’ names correctly!

Image result for rhysand

1. Rhysand
I know a lot of people will feel me on this one! I thought it was Reese-and from the beginning, but then I kept hearing booktubers say “Rice-and” and it really made me doubt myself! I was relieved when I learned my original pronunciation was how the author says it.
Book/Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses series

Image result for rhy maresh

2. Rhy Maresh
I read A Darker Shade of Magic after reading the first 2 Court books, and I guess I subconsciously associated the names, because I was saying “Ree” for months before I learned it’s “Rye” (rhymes with “why”)!
Book/Series: Shades of Magic series

Image result for laurent captive prince

3. Laurent of Vere
I’m still a little bit uncertain on this one. Is it like Lauren, but with a “t” at the end, or is it the French pronunciation? (I think the latter!)
Book/Series: Captive Prince trilogy

Image result for zelie adebola

4. Zélie Adebola
Is it “Zell-ee” or “Zee-lee”?
Book/Series: Legacy of Orïsha series

Image result for tarquin acomaf

5. Tarquin
I’m torn on this one: “Tar-kin” or “Tar-kwin”? I always say the first one, but some of my friends say the latter because of the “qui” (like quit, quick, etc).
Book/Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses series

Image result for matthias helvar

6. Matthias Helvar
I’ve known several people named Matthias in my life, and several of them pronounced it differently, so I’m torn between “Math-ee-us” or “Math-eye-us” (how I usually pronounce it).
Book/Series: Six of Crows series

Image result for elian to kill a kingdom

7. Prince Elian
“Ell-ee-ahn”? “Eel-ee-ahn”? “Eel-ee-uhn”?
Book/Series: To Kill a Kingdom

Image result for circe fanart madeline miller

8. Circe
I have always pronounced it “Sir-say”, but lately I’m hearing a lot of people say “Sir-see” or “Sirs” – popular opinion on this one?
Book/Series: Circe

Image result for wild beauty fan art anna marie mclemore

9. Nomeolvides
This is technically the surname of the women in Wild Beauty, but this is one that I struggle a lot with (partially due to fear of butchering it).
Book/Series: Wild Beauty

10. …?
Okay, I lied. This is more of a Top Nine Tuesday, because I actually couldn’t think of any more names for this one!

How do you pronounce these characters’ names?


More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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    1. I’m reading Children of Blood and Bone right now and I’ve been saying Zay-lee myself. As for Matthias – I say Mat-ee-us simply because I went to school with a guy who said his name that way and that’s what has stuck with me.

    1. I love what you did with this topic. I think its fascinating how one word can be read/ pronounced in so many different ways! I am a strange one when it comes to Rhysand. I pronounce it “Rice-and” or the wrong way yet I pronounce Rhys as “Reese” right from the get go that’s just how I read it. I also am part of the “Tar-kwin” club. 🙂

    1. Names can be such a funny thing! I love it when the author gives us a hint of how to pronounce it within the story.

    1. Ooh interesting! I say math-eye-us and the funny thing is, it probably is something like sir-say or sir-see but i think I initially was saying “serk” in my head. oops!! I also say “rye” for rhy maresh!

    1. I will forever think Rice-sand when I see his name online. I’m not going to read the books anyway haha. I don’t look up how the authors pronounce the name. Once I’ve had one in my head I can’t get it out haha.

      1. Oh my goodness, isn’t that frustrating?! I’m lucky in my name being easy to pronounce, but people constantly misspell it (which surprises me to no end), so I can only imagine!

    1. Re: #1 and #2 – this is exactly why we all have trouble with names! Both start with “Rhy” and both are pronounced differently by the authors! XD I’m personally with V. E. Schwab, but I’m also not the type to get bent over pronunciations.
      #4 – I listened to the audiobook and it was pronounced Zay-lee. 🙂
      Cannot even begin to pronounce the Wild Beauty one. O.o

      1. Lmao exactly! It’s so weird to me how Rhy/Rhys is becoming such a popular name, especially in YA but even in adult fantasy too, but someone told me recently that it’s a super common name in… Scotland, I think? Ireland? One of those two! So that made a little more sense to me once I knew that!

    1. I absolutely love what you did with this topic!! I’ve had the same thoughts as you with almost all of these names lol my partner read Spellslinger and whilst I pronounce Reichis the squirrel cat as (Rye-cuss), he pronounces it (Righteous) lol

      1. Thank you so much! Oh, wow, Spellslinger is on my TBR and that is an interesting one! I personally would go with your pronunciation, that’s how I “heard” it in my head when I first started reading your comment lmao!

    1. It’s so funny sometimes when I read books and come across names that are very unusual – because I totally go through the different ways those names could be pronounced. And usually, I stick with one that’s not correct 🙂 And then, if I listen to the audiobook, I’m all confused.
      Great list, Destiny 🙂 Even if you only had nine 😉

    1. These are hard ones! I just got finished reading To Kill A Kingdom, and I was pronouncing it El-ee-ahn in my head.

      1. It’s funny because that’s how I pronounced it when I was reading it, too! And then, for some reason that I don’t know, I’ve caught myself lately pronounced it “Eel-ee-uhn” – no idea why!

    1. Those fantasy names will get you every time. However, I tend to pronounce most of them as you do. You would think that before doing an audio book, someone would check with the author to assure the pronunciation is correct.

      1. Hermione’s is one that I honestly NEVER would have known how to pronounce without the films, honestly! I always remember, as a kid, originally thinking her name was “Her-me-own” lol!

    1. I pronounce Rhysand as Rye-sand but my partner reads it as Reece-and.
      Zelie I say “zel-ay”
      And Circe I have always said as “Ser-see”

      1. Bahaha, do you and your partner fuss over the pronunciation? 😛 Sometimes Terry will listen to audiobooks while I read the physical one for our buddy reads, and I’ll actually ask him how something is pronounced if I can’t figure it out!

    1. OMG MY MIND IS EXPLODING AT THIS. especially the “reese-and” versus “rice-and” – i’ve always mentally pronounced it as the latter!

    1. On the Wild Beauty tip, break it down into three words: No me olvides – it’s Spanish for don’t forget me. So it’d be something like no-may-ole-vee-days.
      eli @ the (book) supplier
      My TTT

    1. Love your spin on this week’s topic Destiny! I come across this problem a lot actually, especially in fantasy books. The one that really caught my eye here was Circe because I hear soooo many different pronunciations of this one! I personally pronounce it “Sir-See” but when I Googled the correct pronunciation there doesn’t seem to really be one, just a bunch of different ways! I even saw “Kir-Kee” which just doesn’t sound right to me!

      1. Thank you! Kir-kee… I just tried saying that out loud and NOPE, if that one’s right I’ll just sit over here in my wrongness because I do not like that one lmao!

    1. the accent being there makes it sound like Zay-Lie in my head – perks of French pronunciation, lmao. and it’s Matt-I-As in the audiobooks! I’d say it like Tar-kin, but that might be Star Wars talking 😉

      1. That’s what I kept thinking on Zelie, too – that the accent probably meant that – so the confirmation makes me feel a lot more confident in that, bahahaha. Thanks! And good to know on Matthias’ name, that one has been bugging the hell out of me since I feel like there are so many “acceptable” pronunciations for it. I also say Tar-kin 😛

          1. TOBY-USS. OH MY GOD I’M LAUGHING OUT LOUD I love it so much!! That one was easy for me only because I grew up on the Animorphs series, and that was one of the main characters’ names!

    1. I loved To Kill a Kingdom so much I would love to say Elian is my fav on your list but my fav has to be Zélie Adebola! I’m gonna have to read the Legacy of Orïsha! I love how you include the pronunciation. Great list Destiny!

    1. These are all hard to pronounce! Every character’s name from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas is hard to pronounce. ~ Reet

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