Literary character names you might be saying incorrectly
Book worms: prepare to question your entire existence. A recent study conducted by the popular audiobook app Audible found that there is a large portion of the population that is mispronouncing their favorite character names. Out of the 2,000 people surveyed, 39 percent of them were caught messing up the names of famous literary figures. In an effort to protect your reputation at your next book club meeting, here’s a few of the most mispronounced names from the list.
1) Don Quixote
How you may think it’s pronounced: Don Quicks-Oat
How it’s actually pronounced: Don-Key-Hoh-Tee
In the public’s defense, this whimsical folk hero has both a Q and an X in his name, which, when lumped together into one word, can cause some confusion. At first glance, you may assume it’s pronounced like the “x” in “hex” or “rex” or “give me back my Chex” but in reality, the letter is softer thanks to Don Quixote’s Spanish origins.
2) Daenerys Targaryen
How you may think it’s pronounced: Dee-Nay-Ris Targ-Ahh-Ruh-Yen
How it’s actually pronounced: Duh-Nair-Ris Tar-Gair-Ee-In
Okay, George, you can’t throw out a character name with all of the vowels smashed together and expect us to not completely butcher it. To say the Mother of Dragons’ name properly, you must pronounce the beginning as “duh” instead of “dee” and stare directly into her eyes while doing so, without blinking or else she will sense your fear. If that’s too much, you could always try calling her by one of her other names. The Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, or Breaker of Chains are all viable options.
How you may think it’s pronounced: Vol-De-Mort
How it’s actually pronounced: Vol-De-More
In a recent interview, JK Rowling revealed that we’ve been saying this villain’s name all wrong. According to the author, the “t” at the end of “Voldemort” is silent. I’m a bit skeptical on this one, especially considering that every Harry Potter movie shows the characters saying “Vol-De-Mort.” Rowling is known for maintaining strict creative control over every component of the Potter universe so why she would greenlight those scenes and then suddenly declare the pronunciation incorrect? I’m not convinced.
4) Violet Beauregarde
How you may think it’s pronounced: Vie-Ah-Let Bore-Ruh-Gard
How it’s actually pronounced: Vie-Ah-Let Bore-R-Garrr
I should’ve known this was a trick question. It had all of the signs: it’s French, it’s French, and most importantly, it’s French. Even though it’s slightly more fun to say “Bore-Ruh-Gard” it is in fact Bore-R-Garrr. If it helps, try picturing a pirate practicing his French accent. Garrr.
5) Oedipus Rex
How you may think it’s pronounced: Oh-Eh-Di-Pus
How it’s actually pronounced: Ee-Di-Pus
If you studied Oedipus Rex in school, you likely already know the correct version of his name along with a lot of other details about his life that you probably didn’t need to know. If you didn’t study him, you’re one of the lucky ones, but you also missed out on learning the correct pronunciation of his name which is Ee-Di-Pus.
How you may think it’s pronounced: Her-Mee-Own
How it’s actually pronounced: Her-My-Oh-Knee
After 8 movies, innumerable spoofs, a theme park and a play, there are still 22 percent of people out there that think Hermione’s name is pronounced Her-Mee-Own. If Hermione were here, she’d teach them a lesson in pronunciation and then probably test them on it, just to be thorough.
How you may think it’s pronounced: Bee-Oh-Wulf
How it’s actually pronounced: Bay-Oh-Woolf
Sure, Beowulf is pretty tough, but what about the other fifty million characters in that story? Aeschere? Hrethric? Wealhtheow? Hrothgar? Ecgtheow? Trust me, Beowulf is the least of our worries.
How you may think it’s pronounced: Poy-Rot
How it’s actually pronounced: Pwa-Row
Make a word that is said exactly as it is spelled? Nonsense. That would be too easy. Poirot falls into the French trap, coming out as Pwa-Row instead of Poy-Rot. Sorry, Agatha Christie. We’re working on it.
9) Piscine Patel
How you may think it’s pronounced: Pis-Kine Pat-il
How it’s actually pronounced: Piss-Een Pat-El
Contrary to what I thought about 30 seconds prior to Googling this character, Life of Pi is not a movie about an epic math tournament. Rather, it’s a story about a boy named Piscine “Pi” Patel and a tiger and how they survive an seemingly impossible number of days on the ocean. When in doubt, just say Pi.
How you may think it’s pronounced: Sm-Org
How it’s actually pronounced: Sm-Owg
It seems as though many people are inserting an unnecessary “r” into Smaug’s name. So to clarify: The Hobbit dragon’s name sounds like a mashup up “smog” and “ow,” which, for a fire breathing dragon, is actually pretty fitting.
There you have it, some of the most complex literary names. There are plenty more that could be added to this list (items from my personal list include Thranduil, Captain Molyneux, and the impossible Mister Mxyzptlk). What literary names trip you up?
Featured image via Warner Bros. Pronunciation guide via Daily Mail.