Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Names I avoid to say aloud

I’ve never been into Scholomance – as a child of TBC I never had any reason. And frankly I’m pretty happy about it. You see, this is one of the places, wearing names that I’ve knew how to say. I’m just fine with the second half of it, the “mance”. Not much to ponder on. But the beginning… ???

According to Garen, guest poster at Altoholic’s Are Us, it should be said “sk”, as in school. It’s not like shampoo, even though I’d be pretty temped to think it was, since it’s got some German resemblance and Germans are crazy about those sounds. And then there are those “o”s, how to treat them? Is it a “uuuu” sound, as in “Zulu” or “school”? Or should it be pronounced more like “corn” or “raw”?

Doing some research for this post I went to Wowwiki and blushing I realized that in this case I had got the answer much earlier if I had bothered to look it up. “SKOH-loh-mance”. But this is an exception. It’s quite rare that Wowwiki bothers about the say-it-aloud-issue.

So the question I put to Garen and everyone else is: where is your source of information? Is there some hidden website where Blizzard employees give language classes in Wowian, providing sound clips so there’s no doubt about it? Or is it a secret, spreading from mouth to mouth, over Vent and TS servers all over the world?

Alternative strategies
Since I’m not one of the members of the Secret Society of Wowian Pronounciation, I’ve got to rely on alternative strategies. The one I use most is to by all means avoid saying any name aloud, be it a boss or an instance. If I really have to name anything I write it in the chat. This tactic may give you a reputation for being a very shy player (or possibly having a broken mic), but at least you don’t risk to sound stupid.

Another solution is to use short forms. Stop worrying about how to put the emphasis in Naxxramas (NAXXramas, NaxxRAmas or NaxxramAS?). Call it Naxx and you’re all safe. Sartharion becomes Sarth. Prince Mala…whatever, I can’t even remember his name well enough to even write it, becomes “The Prince”. I had never heard anyone brave enough to pronounce Ahn’Qiraj until I heard Fimlys saying it at TN a little while ago – at first I didn’t understand what instance he was talking about, I wasn’t familiar with the name. Everyone, absolutely everyone I’ve ever met has been cheating, calling it AQ, followed by a number.

A special thing about Northrend which has puzzled me a bit is how to deal with the names which indicates a Scandinavian Heritage. It feels a bit silly to wrinkle my tongue so I sound like an Englishman painstakingly trying to pronounce Valgarde or Gjalerbron in a Nordic way. Why not pronounce it in Scandinavian, without the English accent, since I’m capable of it? On the other hand I do the same thing with “smorgasbord” and “ombudsman”, two other Swedish words which have managed to slip into the English vocabulary. They sound very different when I say them in Swedish – when say them in English I happily adapt and mistreat them. Or perhaps people would consider it rather fun and exotic if I could teach them to say the names in a true Viking way, adding some more local flavour to the game?

Who decides?
The remaining question is: who decides what’s the Right way and the Wrong way to say a WoW name? On what basis do you ridicule me when I after twisting my pigtails finally make up my mind and spit out “Gnomeregan” according to how it sounds in the mind of Larísa? Is there really a manual? Or are we all clueless, only that some of us have better confidence in promoting our ideas than others?

By the way, maybe there are some guests of the inn who hesitate about how to pronounce Larísa. I don’t think it’s too hard, but if anyone’s wondering, stress the “í” and say it like the “I” in “pity” or “lily”.

The name of the blog, “The Pink Pigtail Inn” should be quite evident how to say. It’s only the execution that may be a bit tricky. Trying to say it myself when I was going to appear in the Twisted Nether show, I realized that the word bounces around in your mouth like popcorn. If you have difficulties, just follow one of my tricks above. You can always call it “PPI”.


Poledra said...

I thought my toon's name was fairly straight forward until my wife started calling her Pole-drah and I always thought it was poe-led-rah. Since it came from a book there's no way of telling who is right. Hmmm.

DeftyJames said...

"Or are well all clueless, only that some of us have better confidence in promoting our ideas than others?"

Yes. Indeed, according to some linguists the very idea that sound is connected to spelling is a recent development in human history. There is not one right way a word should sound, no one right way that spelling is translated into sound. The answer as to how a word or a group of letters is pronounced is more "traditional" than anything else.

One of my alts is mage named arielmi. I pronounce it air-all-me even though it probably should be pronounced ariel-me or even ariel-my. (And it's a reference to the poem by Slyvia Plath, not the Little Mermaid)

gnomeaggedon.net said...

My wife (of Indian Origins) gets very upset with me when i don't pronounce Hindi words correctly... because they are phonetic... you say them they way they are written...

Which is funny, because I am saying them the way I read them, it's just that apparently, this isn't the way that they should be read.

Tis OK, I am an ignorant Australian... I can live with my ignorance...

Syrana said...

The remaining question is: who decides what’s the Right way and the Wrong way to say a WoW name?

This, my dear, would be Chris Metzen and other devs at Blizzard. They decide how it's pronounced. It's Metzen's world - so it's his vocab rules.

I don't think I can find it.. but I once ran across a link to a blue posting pronounciation requests.

I wasn't too surprised with SKOlomance. But Sepulcher with the 'ch' pronounced like a 'K' did. And Teldrassil.. I used to always put the emphasis on "dra" but its TELdrassil.

Klepsacovic said...

I say it Sk oh l oh mance; or just skolo. For fantasy words/names such as this, there is a correct way: whatever the des intend; possibly including no correct way because the lore says it was lost to time. At least a few times a Blue has stated the correct pronunciation.

Ixobelle said...

people regularly butcher "ixobelle" not realizing the X makes a Z noise. I tell them "it's isobel, just spelled funny, since ISOBEL was usually always taken."

After that I went to izobel, then izzobelle, then issobelle, and finally i rolled an ixobelle, and realized I was the only one on the armory spelled that way. I even did a few tongue in cheek spellings on the butchering (a warlock named icksobelle).

I try to explain that it's like xylophone, but then someone tried to tell me that Z sound only happens if the next letter is a Y.

Orly? Xerox, Xenogears, and Xenophobia?

for wow dungeons, the only "definitive" source is hearing the devs talk about the zone in an audio interview.

I thought Ulduar was a kind of "ool-dwar" thing, but the devs pronounce it ool-doo-ar, stretching out that middle ooooooo.

Kestrel said...

I'd be VERY interested in how you would pronounce the Scandinavian-type names (Hodir?),although I'd have suspected Valgarde would be pretty similar in English and Swedish. So how about a follow-up post? :)

Aurik said...

I frequently come into 'conflict' with my guildies on pronunciation - I have a strong Scottish accent and a very particular way of pronouncing some things.

I'm not shy about attemting to say things the way I've imagined them though ^^;

The oddest one I found was actually Thane Korth'azz - Thane, in scots, is a word equivalent to Baron - and I was confused for quite a while on our first raid doing four horsemen whilst the germans talked about who would tank 'tah-neh' - rather than 'thayne' (th as in thanks) - it makes sense with how german words are said - but left me totally confused ^^

We often had a laugh about how to pronounce leviathan, too, in Black Temple as we cleared on our way in. Having people who speak hebrew, german, english, dutch, swedish, hungarian, french, and russian, these discussions can get quite interesting.

As for names, for my alts I often seem to pick ones most people cannot figure how to pronounce - Jhai (Rhymes with Dye, silent H), Dryn (Drinn), Yjin (Yinn) and Ahnara (ah-nara). I like silent letters /shame.

As Kes says, I would love to hear how the scandinavion words are pronounced as I likely butcher those ^^ - I call Valgarde "Val-guard", and Gjalerbron "Gyael-er-brohn'.

Of course, writing proununciation will always end up being hard as regional dialects mangle how people pronounce certain syllables... :(

Should totally make some sound files!

What I'd say, really, is never be scared to put yourself out there - you can only learn by asking or making the mistakes! I'd rather get it wrong first time but know after than wonder. If in doubt, google is also always my friend though. I will always go by the creators pronunciation of something as it is something I expect myself.

Very interesting article, Larísa - I was thinking of writing one on the multi-lingual side of being on a European server, but I'd not thought about this side of it! :)


Dreaming said...

A short bit about Scholomance. This location happens to be one of my favorite instance in all WoW and old schoolers have been doing it again and again for all guildies and their first T0 set (head on the last boss and another piece iirc).
It happens that this place is an old school of magic, and a part of it still is used for that. It contains a laboratory, one of the very few from the old world, that was mandatory to craft alchemist flask until not so long ago.
Then alchemists were sometimes running the instance just for the reason of gaining access to the lab to craft their week amount of raid flasks.
Now about the name, Sholo comes from scholar, the latin for student (in the very broad meaning of it). Hence the "k" sound in it, so very near from school, which has the exacts same orign.
If you don't know the instance, you should give it a try, Scholomance and Strathome are real parts of wow history, even if full on undeads and a bit creepy.

Kiryn said...

In most cases, the names are said aloud in one of the games somewhere. Gnomeregan? The voiceover when you first start a gnome character says it. Draenei? Well, just make a draenei and you'll find out. Naxxramas? If you listen you can hear the Lich King saying to Kel'Thuzad towards the end of the instance "Naxxramas must not fall!" I know there are some places I know how to pronounce because they were in some of the old Warcraft games, but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

But the one I find most amusing is that an NPC actually explained how to pronounce Gjalerbron in text-form. He was remarking how weird it was that the GJ was pronounced like a SH.

Flawlless said...

Poledra, You are pronouncing it correctly, Poledra's short form is after all Pol, as in Aunt Pol.
Not Pole.

And I think Mr and Missus Eddings would have screamed their hats off if the Audio-book people pronounced it wrong, and they don't.

Dechion said...

Nicely done as always.

I am forever having people mispronounce Dechion.

I have heard:
DECK-e-ahn (the correct one)

Mostly it ends up with pecple just calling me Deck, and that works.

Drazmor said...

That's exactly why I names my main 'Drazmor' it's kinda hard to mispronounce that.

(Kaitus on the other hand though...)

Larísa said...

@Poledra: There’s really no way to know how to say it (unless you’ve read the book). I spontaneously would say “poe (as in Poe, the author)-LE-dra

@Defty-James: yes, I’m actually a fan of that way of looking at language. There is no settled “this is is it” – it’s a constant evolution and more about what’s most common than what’s right. Yeah, I’m pretty liberal about it, I know.

About your name I think I’d go for Ariel-me, but I wouldn’t have a clue where to stress it.

@Gnomeaggedon: It sounds very sympathetic: a language which is pronounced the way they’re written. But since the pronunciation rules vary from language to language I guess it won’t help much anyway.

@Syrana & Klepsacovic: I’ve never seen that blue posting. Wouldn’t it be a great help if they had some sort of list, preferably with sound files linked to it, where Chris & co show us how it should be done?

@Ixobelle: I’m glad you clarified this. In my head I’ve pronounced it with a ks-sound until you told me now.

Yeah. Ulduar is one of the things I’ve been uncertain about. And now you say you should stretch the middle oooo? That’s news to me! Thanks!

@Kestrel: I wish I was a bit better at phonetic script, it’s been years and years since I studied languages. On the other hand maybe the readers don’t know that either. Probably I’d have to try to explain what I mean by giving examples of other words. It’s a bit challenging, especially since there are some sounds that I don’t think I find in English. But it’s a great idea, I may give it a shot. The best thing of course would be to upload sound files, but I’m afraid I haven’t got that possibility with the smallish simple blog I have. Maybe a task for Twisted Nether?

@Aurik: thank you for your kind words and interesting comment. I’ve also thought about it, the fact that we who are on the mixed-European servers (where everyone who hasn’t Spanish, French, German or Russian as their native tongue end up) probably have a slightly different playing experience to the US server people. But I don’t know how to express it, how to put my finger on it and give examples. Looking forward to read your

@Dreaming: it really is a shame I haven’t done it, being a mage and everything. Stratholme I’ve done though, and I really love it. I remember especially a very very long questline ending up there, getting some picture. It was a lovely storyline indeed.

@Kiryn: well it’s years ago since I started my character and there are so many impressions when you do it and see the movie that the sound clips really don’t get stuck into your mind at that point. A noobish question: is there anyway to see it later?

About Gjalerbron I’m shocked to hear it. How on earth could you pronounce that like SH? Sounds like a mystery to me.

@Flawlless: /wave! You’re still around! Glad to see you again!. (Flawlless is an old guildie who I haven’t seen in over a year…)

@Dechion: thanks!
And in my head I definitely mispronounced it… I thought it was “DESH-e-an”. Sorry!
Thanks for the clarification.

@Drazmor: well you can always ponder upon if it’s DRAZmor or DrazMOR. But I picture it’s the first one.

Kaitus I’d say “KAIT-us (as in a kite that you fly). Probably I’m all wrong…

Cassini said...

"I’ve never been into Scholomance – as a child of TBC I never had any reason. And frankly I’m pretty happy about it."

*dies a little inside*

Best. Instance. Ever.

Fish said...

I'm sure I've been to scholomance, I think it was part of the paladin mount quest (back when we couldn't just buy the epic land mount). It took me forever to actually run dire maul though.

Pronunciation is a tricky thing, things that sound perfectly correct in your head may not be. I have always had a soft spot for the named trollish instances, Zul farrak, zul amana, etc, they just seem to have so much flavor. TBC for the most part lost a lot of that. For as epic as black temple may be, the name is as flavorful as tofu. Ahn'qiraj? Hints at something spicy and epic, which it is. Things that are hard to pronounce just seem more intense.

*vlad* said...

I take Scholomance to come from the English word 'Scholar', as in a student.
It is a school for warlocks and evil-types, so that is my reasoning.

For words with 3 syllables, the norm is to stress the second syllable in many languages, hence
Tel DRASS il, as Syrana suggested.

Gnomeregan was one I struggled with for some time, until I heard the Blizzard pronunciation, which is in the intro clip.
it is simply 'Gnome' followed by 'ReGAN', with the stress at the end.

One of the things that fasinates me living in Europe, is you get to hear the various ways people pronounce names over Vent, whether they are character names or npcs;
KilJaeden is a typical example.

ps, shame you never ran Scholomance in vanilla WOW, it was so much fun (and really tough).

kyrilean said...

@ Syrana - sepulcher is an actual word though.

I've got one. Libram. I've always pronounced it Lee-bram. Sort of like the constellation Libra. Figure that's sorta the origin.

However, I got laughed at on vent one time because some others thought it was lib-ram. Like 'glib' (to be flippant or offhand) and 'ram' (the animal). They laughed until I pointed out the constellation.

So which is it?

Dorgol said...


I've always associated Librams with books (both in and out of WoW), so I've always pronounced them as "Lie Bram", same base as "Library".

I remember back in the days of Molten Core getting on someone's case about how to pronounce "reagent". I (incorrectly) told them it was pronounced "regent". Ever since then I have stopped trying to correct other people's pronunciation. :)

Darraxus said...

Mostly, people call me Darr.

It should be pronounced Darr-Axe-Us

Often times it gets pronounced Drax-us.

Daria said...

Let's not forget the age old debate about SHAMAN.

Some people say sh-a-man, some pronounce it shay-man.

Rhii said...

I think Shay-man/Shah-man is just a regional thing, though. I wouldn't say that's a matter of pronouncing it right or wrong, just what's considered right where you live.

Buuuut, as someone who lives in Maine, I'd probably have said the same thing about Quebec (Keh-beck vs Kwuh-beck) until pretty recently. You learn new things every day.

Larísa, I'd have thought your name was pronounced lar-EE-sa. :P Gosh this is harder than I thought!

Wouldn't it be easier if everything was named "Stockades"?

Larísa said...

@Cassini: honestly, now that I can pronounce it there's really nothing that stops me from goign there. :)
Maybe I could get some of the achievment addicts come and join me, if nothing else for the records.

@Fish: Black temple as flavorful as tofu, I loved that comparsion! Brilliant.

@Vlad: is the norm really to stress the third syllable? I've always said it TELdrassil. But then again: I've got no evidence whatsoever that I'm right about it. The funny thing about it it that it's so random how you start to believe how things are pronounced. I'll never forget my surprise when I saw the first Harry Potter movie and suddenly got the hang on how Hermione should be said the proper way. It was lightyears from how I had said it reading the books aloud for my children. They were pretty mad with me.

@Kyrilean: I've always said "LAIbram". Not that I know if it's right, but I thought of Library, just like Dorgol further down.

@Dorgol: oh yes, I agree. I'm very, very humble about how to say things. I wouldn't dream of correcting anyone else, especially since we're playing in English and it isn't my native tongue.

@Darraxus: the abriviation tactics always works fine. It's pretty common that people call me "Lar". There's a good reason for it I guess.

@Daria: if you pronounced it in Swedish you'd say "ShaMAAN" with a long and open a in the end (as in car".

@Rhii: actually I pronounce it slightly differently if I'm playing with only Swedish players. The emphasis is the same but there's a slightly different tone tone in the vocals that I can't explain. The "i" sound is different. Yeah, it really is complecated, isn't it?
Quite fun though when you start to think about it. Normally we do understand what we mean even in our mulitlingual guild, and I guess that's the main thing.

Syrana said...

@Kyrilean re:@ Syrana - sepulcher is an actual word though.

Well, actual word or not, does not mean the pronunciation rules will be applied the same within the game. (Example again would be TELdrassil) And, sepulcher is not a word I commonly use IRL.

Regardless, when you see words and do not hear an associated pronunciation, you develop your own - correct or not.

And, when you hear people on vent pronouncing words that fit reasonably well with how you've been sayin' it in your head... it kinda sticks. To me, "ch" (like change) sounded fine to my ears.


It can be a tricky thing if you don't hear it right away from a dev.

Dw-redux said...

I dont want to derail a otherwise great post but

" On the other hand I do the same thing with “smorgasbord” and “ombudsman”, two other Swedish words which have managed to slip into the English vocabulary. They sound very different when I say them in Swedish"

They arent swedish, either of em, they'r danish :)

Anyways, i remember getting quite a shock when some of my guildies over ts wanted to be ported to dalaarrn, instead of dAlaRAn.

Esdras said...

Luckily with most of my guild being in UK the names are pretty straight forward, all the hard names to say are the ones from Swedish and Denmark people i think haha

Carra said...

Ah yes, people even manage to misspell my characters four letter name "Scia". The times I've heard "Sky"...

It's a reason why I like short names for my character. Guildies names like "Pablofighter" just becomes "pablo". "Holylife" holy, "Oblivian" obli, etc. Everything longer then two vowels gets abbreviated. So best not to pick a name with more then two vowels :)

Scholomance should be easy to solo at lvl 80. Just go in and spam AE ;)

kyrilean said...

@ Dorgol / Larissa - Libram like library...that makes waaay more sense! :)

I also was witness to a 'reagent' argument once. The guy wouldn't believe those that were telling him how it was pronounced and it was frustrating a lot of people, until finally someone said "who the hell cares?!" At that point it ended in laughter.

@ Syrana - Absolutely! I've got false pronunciations in my head that I can't get rid of once I heard the correct one. :)

*vlad* said...

@Larisa: re Hermione.
English is full of words that are pronounced oddly, and the English 'I' is difficult because it can be either 'eee' or 'aye'

Not only that, it is very rare in English for an 'e' at the end of a word to be spoken aloud.

Following regular speech, you would probably have guessed Herm-ee-on. I don't think you could be criticised for getting that wrong.

A German friend of mine once asked me about how to pronounce 'lead'.
Of course it can be either 'leeed' or 'Led', depending on the word.

Hence the rock band Led Zeppelin (rather than Lead Zeppelin), so that people would have no doubts as to the correct pronunciation.

How I love languages!

Larísa said...

@Syrana: oh it definitely sticks! I can't get rid of my first strange impression of how the gnomish capital should be sid.It's really a shame. Once you've said it it's in your head and you hear it everytime you think of it.

@DW-Redux: hm... are you sure about that? Ah well, considering we've been in a union you could claim they're Swedish anyway, hey? :)
About Dal (yes, make it shorter, easy solution!): I think of it as Da-LA-ran. But maybe I'm totally wrong there.

@Esdras: Straightforward? That's what YOU think!

@Carra: so how to say it then? Is it "Skeeea", like in "ski or street"?

@Vlad: thank you, that was comforting. I don't think I've been the only one to get Hermoine totally wrong.

Darraxus said...

Ah yes, the old reagent debate.

I used to pronounce it reejent.

Then I heard the Aussies pronounce it Re- A - jent.

I like the way the second one sounds and use that now.

oriniwen said...

The one that always has me cringing is people butchering "Auchindoun".

"auch - in - doooooon" with 'auch" rhyming with the Scottisch "loch".

I know that the devs take from a lot of languages and cultures, and for some players some things are easy to say than others - me an my celtic heritage grasp Auchindoun- but I'm lost on some of the Northrend names.

I also agree that if it's said by an NPC or the narrator in a cinematic, that *is* how it's said.

I also feel that the pronunciation of a character's name is whatever that character's player says it is. If I say you pronounce "Oriniwen" as "jag-YOU-arr" then that's how it's done, dammit :)

Anonymous said...

Gnomeregan? Ask a male gnome to /charge. Once in a while he will yell "For Gnomeregan!"

The latin word for book is "librum"

Geoffrey said...


I think the proper objection to your name pronunciation is not that the x is not followed by a y. It is that X does not have a Z sound, except when it begins a word.

Siha said...

FWIW, the Scholomance is a 'real' thing - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholomance

"The Scholomance was a legendary school of black magic said to have been run by the Devil. It was supposedly located near an unnamed lake in the mountains south of the city of Hermannstadt (called Sibiu in Romanian) in the Transylvania region of Romania."

So pronunciations of the word do exist outside of WoW, and I assume that's where people get it from.

I'd always assumed it was "SKOL-o-mance" because the "schol-" root immediately associated itself with "scholar" and similar words in my mind, and that's how "schol-" is pronounced in those cases.

lily said...

Du var med i scholo när Zakesh gjorde mount questen, har jag för mig

Larísa said...

@Oriniwen: That place is a nightmare. Auchindoun. It's a blind spot. I can't even memorize it written, even less say it. I call it "that place in Terokkar".

@Lily: no, I think the lock mount quest is in Dire Maul, if I'm not completely mixing up things. I don't recall ever being int Scholomance. The closest I got was at one of the holiday events (the merrymaker I think), when I went to the outside of it to see some npc.

lily said...

Youre mixing things up. One part of it is in Scholo, or at least was. :) And I'm pretty certain you were there.. cause we were outside aldors bank and messing around with follow on zakesh when he was running around mounted afterwards. :)
I got a memory like an elephant.

lily said...

(I'd like to hope)