1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

What does this sound like #2

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Androxine Vortex, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

    986
    85
    28
    I am at the point where I need to give my un-named characters names and right now i am working on demons. I already know that one of the main demons that the MC is involved with's name is Nexverxe. I wanted to know what that sounded like (like what culture it might belong to or something like that) so i might be able to make more names that sound like it
     
  2. Drakhov

    Drakhov Minstrel

    81
    6
    8
    Possibly Greek or Persian? I would say the 'x' would sound either as a 'z' or 's', so Nezverze or Nesverse? Or you could go with a hard 'ks' sound - Neksverkse.
     
  3. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

    986
    85
    28
    It is pronounced like Nex-verse

    And I thought greek as well. I'm tryng to get a mix of greek and babylonian. Also anything that sounds like it could be the name of a black metal band (without being too stupid) is what i'm aiming for, at least i think for now.
     
  4. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

    986
    85
    28
    Other possible names I have are:
    Yithir
    Chembrol
    Antheron
    Ynesh
    Beil
    Epkizaal
    Corphys
     
  5. Drakhov

    Drakhov Minstrel

    81
    6
    8
    Most Black Metal bands i know of originate from Northern Europe (predominantly Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland) the UK and Germany, so unless any Scandinavian / Nordic / Germanic speakers can tell you otherwise i would say the 'x' would probably be pronounced as it would in English - 'ecks', or maybe a 'gz' sound - Negzvergze or Necksvergze?
     
  6. So there's two basic approaches to making up names. One is that you transliterate them phonetically so that we English-speaking readers pronounce them the way that they would be pronounced by the characters who natively speak them. This makes sense to me because you can conceive of the fantasy story being told in this way:

    Imagine a story set in the mythical land of Glorvax. The people of Glorvax do not speak English; they speak Glorvaxian, which sounds nothing like English and is not related to it. But when we read a scene featuring Fornos the Brave, a famous Glorvaxian, speaking to his evil twin brother, the dialogue they speak is in English:

    But they didn't really speak English; they spoke Glorvaxian, which the author then helpfully translated into English so that we know what they're saying. Moreover, Glorvaxian writing doesn't use Latin letters like English does, so the author still has to "translate" the original Glorvaxian text into English.

    What this means is that in order to know what a made-up name sounds like, it gets transliterated. If you were standing in a room with Fornos and you heard someone call his name, you'd hear them say "For-" (as in the word "for") "-nos" (rhymes with "dos"), with the emphasis on the first syllable.

    Therefore, the author types this word as "Fornos," and not (e.g.) "Phairnos" plus an appendix which tells is that in Glorvaxian names, "ai" is pronounced like the "o" in "for."

    The only real problem is that sometimes Glorvaxian has phonemes that English doesn't, and you have to represent it somehow, and then you have to tell the reader that, if you want them to know the correct pronunciation.


    The other approach is that you don't transliterate everything. Tolkien did this; for example, the mountain "Caradhras." The 'dh' is pronounced like the 'th' in 'bother'. I'm not a big fan of this because it means that you need a pronunciation guide to know how to pronounce the words; why is this better than just transliterating them? Granted, Tolkien was a linguist, and he was at least able to do this in ways that made internal sense; I just don't think it helps the reader enjoy the story more if he's reading a book, gets used to thinking a term is pronounced one way, and then finds out way later that he's been pronouncing it wrong the whole time.


    The upshot of all this being, if it's supposed to sound like "Nexverse," then spell it "Nexverse." If there's no way to represent the pronunciation with standard English spelling, then you have to approximate it and maybe (if you care) add a pronunciation guide.
     
  7. Drakhov

    Drakhov Minstrel

    81
    6
    8
    I tend to agree for the most part - I'm no fan of authors using bizarre spellings 'just because', but in some cases there are valid reasons for doing so. Maybe Nexverxe is the textual translation, from one written form to another (from Old Glorvaxian for example) but the pronunciation has changed over time.

    You mention Tolkien, but many other writers have done the same thing - Lovecraft (Cthulhu Mythos), P G Wodehouse (one of his earlier characters was a chap called Psmith - the 'P' was silent, so the name was pronounced 'Smith' - Wodehouse's conceit was that the character could tell if a person had addressed him as (P)smith or 'Smith'. The same goes for another of his characters, Cyril "Barmy' Fotheringay-Phipps (prononounced Fungy Fipps) - many of his 'strange' spellings come from actual eccentricities in English / British names - Gloucester, Worcester, Leicester (phonetically Glosster, Wooster, Lester) Slough (rhymes with 'Plough' not 'Rough'. Native Brits, in the main, have no problem with these, but our American cousins have no end of trouble.

    Some English surnames, spelling followed by phonetic pronunciation - Cholmondley = Chumley, Featherstone-Hough = Fanshaw, Beauchamp = Beecham.
     
Loading...

Share This Page