We've all been there. Especially in paranormal or science fiction, but even in contemporary fiction. Foreign looking names that are probably not pronounced the same way they're spelled.
I know with my own kids, there are plenty of words they read and understand, but when they go to use them out loud in a sentence, they mispronounce them for one reason or another. It's a word they've only read, not heard, so they don't know. And having taken years of high school Latin, they often mispronounce English words that don't follow "normal" rules of pronunciation.
With my own series, though, I've been stuck as to how to fix this. The very first time the two main characters meet on the beach, the girl tells Shea how to pronounce her name. I thought that would be sufficient for the readers. Apparently not.
Okay, back up a sec. The boy's name is "Shea" which another character compares to baseball's Shea Stadium, so I figure that's easy enough. The longer version of his name is Gaelic and spelled Sheachnadh, which even I'm a little unclear how to pronounce.
The girl's name is Kae. Looking at it, it's similar to Shea and maybe it makes sense to say "Kay"... but in the first book she explains.
When the girl said his name, it tingled in his ears like music touching him all the way to his toes. Goosebumps prickled up his arms.
He cleared his throat. “So what’s your name?”
“My name’s Kae.” She smiled, her lips parting to show perfect pearly white teeth. “Kaa – ee,” she enunciated again. She stood and stretched her arms toward the sky. She was easily the same height as he was. “You must pronounce all the sounds.”
“Kaa – ee,” he repeated in the same exaggerated fashion and shook his head. “I haven’t seen you on the beach before.”
See? I thought that made sense. But my kids tell me no. So I came up with an idea - adding an umlat to the "e" to make sure it gets pronounced as a separate vowel.“You’re the new one.” Kae tucked her wet hair behind her ears. “My family is here every summer.”
But how to do that on the computer?
Turns out it's not that hard in Word. Type Control Shift Colon, release and then type the letter you want the umlat over. Except of course it doesn't seem to want to work for me in Blogger, there must be a different key combo in this program.
Now I need to decide if I want to go in and fix the first two books to reflect the revised spelling. Or if that will still be just as confusing. People seem to be able to pronounce Zoe and Chloe properly without the use of an umlat - I didn't realize my mermaid's name would be so difficult.
Have you come across this in your own writing? Where a word is perfectly easy to say in your own head but then you find other's having difficulty? What have you done to fix the problem?
Happy Writing - and Reading - to you all!