In Universe Pronunciation Guide YKTTW Discussion

In Universe Pronunciation Guide
Bob mispronounces a name given textually, and when he is corrected, so is the audience.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-01-14 19:18:32 sponsor: blackfedora81 edited by: calmestofdoves (last reply: 2015-08-21 00:16:47)

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You're reading a book or watching a TV show or movie where an unusual name, like Bonzo come up in print. When you read it to yourself you hear Bohn-Zoe. Bob reads the same thing and says it the same way. Later, Joe comes along and corrects Bob by pronouncing it Bone-Zoe. This means you've been mispronouncing it all along. Don't feel too bad, though. Bob made the same mistake!

Someone or something has more than one pronunciation, one of them being extremely common. Bob, and the audience see it in written form and mispronounce it in the common way. Joe pronounces it another way, which turns out to be the right way for this particular reading, thus correcting Bob AND the reader/viewer simultaneously.

The common pronunciation can be either right or wrong in and of itself, and the correct pronunciation is not made for the purposes of seeming posh. The common pronunciation happens not to be correct in-universe, and is an easy mistake to make.

This is like a one-shot text-based The Watson, except that this refers to a situation, rather than a character.

Subversion of No Pronunciation Guide, and an example of playing against audience expectations. See Also, Spell My Name with an "S", and Its Pronounced Tro Pay


  • Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game
    • In the original book Ender receives transfer orders to Bonzo's army, and reads his orders aloud. Petra corrects Ender and the reader with the right pronunciation.
    • Ender's Shadow. After several chapters, Sister Carlotta has to correct Graff about the proper pronunciation of Achilles' name. It's not pronounced like the name of the Greek hero (which is an otherwise correct pronunciation), but is instead pronounced the French way: Ah-Sheel. Card corrects the reader rather late!
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hermione explains to the foreigner Viktor Krum that her name is pronounced "Her-my-oh-nee", functioning as both a character moment for the two of them and clearing up for the audience how "Hermione" is pronounced.
  • In Hogfather, Jonathan Teatime corrects people on the pronunciation of his last name ("Teh-ah-time-eh") on his first appearance (and frequently throughout the book, as mispronunciation of it seems to be his only Berserk Button).
  • In the Dresden Files book White Night There's a character named "Anna" who corrects Harry's pronunciation of her name. Aside from how most English speakers would say the name on sight as "Anne-uh," she pronounces it "On-uh."
  • In Animorphs, the heroes discover that one Mr. DeGroot is looking for Tobias. When Tobias speaks to DeGroot's secretary, he asks for Mr. DeGroot (apparently pronounced as spelled) and is told that it is pronounced as "de-groat".

Live-Action TV
  • In Game of Thrones, Danaerys visits the city state of Qarth, which she pronounces as "Quarth," and sort of acts like she owns the place. She is corrected by a snooty member of its leadership that the place's name is pronounced "Karth." This correction is also for the benefit of the audience, since the original book series has No Pronunciation Guide.
  • A reverse example shows up early on in Stargate SG-1: O'Neill very pointedly spells "Teal'c" aloud when facilitating Teal'c's entrance interview with Stargate Command, presumably because the person taking notes would spell it phonetically otherwise, but really because the audience would have no reason to suspect that a name pronounced "Teelk" would have an apostrophe in it anywhere.

Video Games
  • Inverted in the The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion expansion pack, Shivering Isles, where you can find a journal written by an adventurer. He writes about the 'Tsaesci', a race of snake people from Akavir, but because he's only heard the word spoken, he spells it 'Sayessie' (providing a pronunciation guide for the audience) until a scholar gets a look at the journal and insists on him writing the correct spelling.

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