The Guide to Weird Names



We'll take the second question first: Where the hell did I come up with these names? OK, roughly in thirds, from English placenames and history (Southwark, Torquay, Cawood, etc.), from Roman placenames and history (Ancus Marcius, Vespasianus, the Legium, aedile, quaestor, etc.), and from my own head (Fanuilh, Liam Rhenford, Coeccias, etc.).

The theory, if you care, is that the Latin-type placenames and personal names were imported when the Seventeen Houses arrived in the kingdom (an event roughly analogous to the Norman invasion of England in 1066), while anything that sounds Germanic, English or Celtic is from the original inhabitants. Which would mean, the astute reader will notice, that Liam Rhenford is in no way connected with the Seventeen Houses, who have for several centuries been the ruling elite of the kingdom.

Anything that resembles neither, is me desperately needing a name for a character and making one up on the spot.

Now, how do you say them?

Since fantasy names are often wierd, pronunciation is sometimes a problem, with every reader coming up with different variations on the same word.

Personally, I think that's cool -- I remember how disappointed I was to find out that Tolkien insisted that Sauron was pronounced "Sour-on," not "Soar-on" -- so if you already have a way of saying the name or title of one of the characters, run with it, and ignore this list. It's just how I pronounce them, and I make a point of never correcting anyone (as long as I can figure out who you're talking about, that is.)

Many, however, want a definitive version, so:

aedile -- ay-DEEL or ay-DIAL, but never rhyming with ladle
Ancus Marcius -- both c's are hard
Areopagus -- think Snuffleupagus
Casotte -- Ka-SOT
Coeccias -- KO-kee-us
Cuspinian -- Cuss-pin-ee-an
Den Huys -- Den Hoos
Daura -- Dour-a
Dono‘ -- Doe-no-ay
Enghave -- ON-gave
Fanuilh -- FAN-yull (think Faneuil Hall in Boston, or Daniel with an f)
Grantaire -- Grant-air
Gratian -- flat a's
Herione -- Hair-RYE-u-nee
Liam Rhenford -- Lee-um Wrenford (the only one I do insist on -- Liam being a current name, with a proper English pronunciation. No one calls Mr. Neeson "Ly-am".)
Lyndower -- Lin-dour
Necquer -- Nekker
Priscian -- PRIS-kee-in
Provyn -- PROE-vin
quaestor -- KWY-ster
Saffian -- first syllable like "laugh"
Scaevola -- Sky-vela
Southwark -- Sutherk (I took the name from the London neighborhood, and was laughed at for 20 minutes by a local cabbie when I pronounced it the way it's spelled; the humiliation has forced me to change my opinion)
Tarpeia -- Tar-pay-a
Thrasa -- soft s
Torquay -- Tor-KAY, not Tor-KWAY
Vaucan -- Vo-can