This is part of the weekly Blogging Challenge over at Long and Short Reviews. If you'd like to participate, you can find the prompts here. They also put up a post every Wednesday where you go and link your response -- and see everyone else's. Check out their homepage to find it.
The challenge for this week is "character names in books I can't pronounce", and I have to admit that the first thing that comes to mind is this opening from Robert Jordan regarding certain characters in the Wheel Of Time books:
But... I did it to myself in the Great Unpublished Pulp Fantasy Novel that I wrote back when I could actually get things finished. The main character was easy: called himself Cat, refused to admit that he might have a real name, was even listed in the records at his school as Cat.
But his best friend was a young woman named Gin... with a hard G. There is literally no way to spell that in English so people won't automatically assume that it's pronounced "jin". There is no casual way to work the pronunciation issue into the dialogue. And there was no possibility of changing her name; she was Gin, and she damned well wasn't going to go by anything else -- and would probably put an arrow into you on general principles if you asked her to.
So... yeah. If there's a moral to this story, I have yet to find it -- but I still scoff when people try to tell me that English is a phonetic language. English is an unutterable mess, that's what it is, and it's amazing that anybody manages to communicate in it at all.Update: Cathryn Hein reminded me of another example, so I'm copying my response here.
I do not, for the record, remember the title, author, series, or really much of anything else except this:
1. It was a fairly generic high fantasy setting -- elves, dwarves, humans, roughly medieval technology, etc. -- that could have come out of virtually any D'n'D game.
2. Except, all the racial names had apostrophes added. All. Of. Them. So there were dwa'rves, cen'taurs, me'erfolk, and I believe even e'elves. And I have no idea how that sounded in the author's head, but when I see an apostrophe in the middle of a word I automatically assume it's representing a glottal stop, a fact which turns perfectly easy names into an unholy mess of pronunciations, even in my head.
3. I did not finish the book.