Poll: Do You Like Authors Supplying Pronunciation Guides?


Amberle Elessedil — Is she AM-BERL? AMBER-LEE? AMBER-LAY?

Over the years, pronunciation has been an interesting aspect of Terry Brooks’s work.

Fans write into his website all of the time asking how to pronounce Terry’s names for characters, places, and the like. It’s never easy to answer these. Terry doesn’t believe in telling his fans how to pronounce anything. He feels quite strongly that once you have the book and it is open in front of you, you have to meet him half way and make some decisions on your own.

That said, with the news about The Elfstones of Shannara possibly being adapted for television, people will have a pronunciation spoken on television that may or may not line up with what they think.

When I first met Terry and became his webmaster, I said Shannara like 99% of the world—SHA-NAR-UH. But the first time I had dinner with Terry and his wife, Judine corrected me—SHAN-UH-RUH. It took me at least six months to feel comfortable with the “new” way. Some habits are really hard to break. And now, when I see Terry on tour, I’m always amused by his fans who hear him speak Shannara and do a double take.

Fans differ on this subject of pronunciation. Some want the author to share how they pronounce things. The curiosity of how a writer says something drives them crazy. Others are so adamant about how they pronounce words and names that if their versions conflict with the writer’s own, then the author is the one that’s wrong!

So my poll this Friday is:

Do you like authors supplying pronunciation guides?

Would love to hear what you have to say on the subject! And what’s the hardest word for you to pronounce in fantasy? Do you like glossaries with pronunciations to be included in the book?

  • Joe

    I like them to provide them, but I never know how to pronounce the words whether they provide the guide or not…

  • Okay, I /like/ pronunciation guides and find them helpful (usually) but… SHAN-uh-ra? Not sha-NAHR-ah? Urf.

  • RiverVox

    I really appreciate pronunciation assistance, or a nickname that I can hang on to. I seem to hear the words as I read them and it’s a stumbling block. If I’m to be really immersed and connected to the character, I need to have a comfortable relationship with their name. Otherwise, it’s like that person at your office whose name you’re not quite sure of and it makes you awkward at the coffee machine.

Get the best stories in your inbox, weekly. Any sufficiently advanced newsletter technology is indistinguishable from magic.