In written works, sometimes it's not obvious how to pronounce names that are given. Sure, it's easy enough to figure out how to pronounce John Smith (usually), but seeing the name Gauthenia Vrellneick is going to confuse the heck out of anyone.
This can cause issues when people try to actually discuss a character in the work, and nobody can figure out whose pronunciation is actually correct. There can be quite a bit of Fan Dumb resulting from this, often depending simply on the language construction of where fans live.
Don't expect it to help any when there is finally Word Of God on how to pronounce some of them - it might end the discussion, or you might get folks arguing over whether or not the person who answers is correct anyway. Fanon has been known more than once to override the author's intended pronunciation.
The opposite of Spell My Name with an S, where fans know how it's supposed to sound (since it's on video or named in a syllabary) but can't seem to agree on how it's supposed to be written down alphabetically. Related to The Unpronounceable, where the names are intentionally difficult (if not downright impossible) for the merely human to pronounce.
It is more common in works in English and French languages. In numerous foreign languages, it's much less common where a word is typically pronounced exactly as it is written. This also happens a lot with English-language versions of anime.
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Anime & Manga
This is extremely common in English dubs of Anime in general, although the severity of it depends on the dub studio or even the specific voice director. This causes a certain (very loud) segment of the fandom to completely lose their shit when it happens. The reasons for mispronunciations or mis-stressings (no, they are not the same thing) of Japanese words are myriad, ranging from the translator not giving any hints on how names are pronounced, directors not being terribly concerned about it, edicts from the Japanese themselves (this one happened with Eureka 7), to the simple fact that there are major differences between Japanese and English vowels and stress patterns such that stressing a Japanese word correctly can sometimes throw off the rhythm of a sentence or make it sound stilted to Western ears.
For a quick reference before going into detail below, some studios are worse about this than others. Funimation's pre-2005 work stands out in this regard, as do a number of dubs from the studio formerly known as ADV Films (especially ones directed by Stephen Foster, who has said many times he cares more about an actor's performance than their pronunciation). Outside of Texas, this phenomenon is far less common, though every studio will do it to some degree.
Bakugan. Is it Back-ooh-gan, or Bah-koo-gahn?note Going by standard Japanese pronunciation rules, it's the latter, since there is no "a" as in "back" sound.
The dub for CLANNAD has this to the point of it being a chronic disorder, as it seems that nobody can pronounce each others' names correctly.
The actors do pronounce names wrong, but at least it's consistently wrong. One can argue it's far worse when some actors get it right but others don't. Also, many of the pronunciation problems were fixed in the After Story dub.
The actors dubbing Get Backers had this problem, as half of them called the Teen Genius Makubex "mah-cue-bex," and the other half called him "mah-koo-bex." Usually while speaking to each other. This was incredibly annoying during the conversation between Shido and Ban that establishes Makubex's back story, but Ban has an unflattering nickname for just about everyone, so it might be in character for him to butcher it on purpose...
They had the same problem with Ban's surname, Midou (which they pronounced "mee-dow" for most of the first half of the show).
In a strange bit of irony, during the "13th Sunflower" episodes, the ADR director went out of his way to make sure that all the actors pronounced Vincent Van Gogh's name correctly (hint: it's not "Van-GO").
The Funimation dub of Dragon Ball Z has had a hard time with Goku's Kaiou-ken technique. The correct pronunciation is "kye-oh-ken" (as in, "King Kai's technique"), but nearly everyone except for Peter Kelamis's Goku in the uncut Pioneer dubs of movies 2 and 3 says "KEI-oh-ken". King Kai must've learned it from the guy on the Ą10,000 bill.
The Funimation Dub of Dragon Ball Z Kai, however, fixed the Kaio-ken pronunciation problem
The English dub also has "Saiyan" being pronounced as "SAY-en", while the original Japanese pronunciation is more like "SYE-ahn". The dub's influence was so pervasive that when the guy's on X-Play used the Japanese pronunciation they got letters telling them how dumb they are for not saying it the "right" way.
Except that Saiyan isn't Japanese. It's based on Saiya-jin (sigh[the word]-ya-jeen is probably as close as you can get with the English alphabet), but Saiyan is a perfectly cromulent English word, and is pronounced "say-en".
Except that -jin is a suffix that means "person from [wherever]" in Japanese. Examples: Nihon-jin = Japanese, Amerika-jin = American, Doitsu-jin = German, etc.
The voice actor for Emperor Pilaf in the Ocean dub and early FUNimation dub of the original Dragon Ball called Pilaf's canine henchman Shu as "shao." The FUNimation actor, Chuck Huber, corrected himself by the time he got to Dragon Ball GT and referred to Shu correctly from then on.
Xxx HO Li C has many pronunciations. Among them: Ex Ex Ex Holic, Zholic, or Triple X Holic. Oddly, it seems the correct pronunciation is simply 'holic' as the Exes are not recognized a pronounceable characters, making them essentially meaningless.
The Pokémon anime occasionally has problems pronouncing Pokémon names. When reached for comment, PokémonUSA actually confirmed that 4Kids were pronouncing Bonsly wrong (It's Bon-sly, not Bon-slee) in the eighth movie.
Suicune. Oh god, Suicune.
Early on, Ekans was pronounced as "EH-kans", but come Advanced (while 4Kids was still dubbing), the Pokemon said their names as "EEK-ans".
Cartoon Network's run of the last Diamond and Pearl series, Sinnoh League Victors, also had the announcer somehow pronounce the word "Sinnoh" as "Sigh-no".
Arceus is pronounced "Ar-say-oos" in Japanese versions and "Ark-ee-us" in English versions. According to one of the English voice actors (Tom Wayland), Arceus is pronounced Ark-ee-us" in English because it would otherwise sound like "arse".
There is also no consensus on how Uxie's name is to be pronounced, between "OOK-see" and "YOOK-see." During a moment in the Pokémon Trading Card Game when Uxie was popular, one could visit a tournament and hear it pronounced both ways roughly evenly. (All of the official materials call it "YOOK-see," which is the correct pronunciation.)
This applies in a strange way to Beyblade: Metal Fusion, the dub of Metal Fight Beyblade. The main character, Ginga(Geen-Gah) Hagane, both got his name respelled to "Gingka" and the pronunciation changed to "Jin-guh"
Averted by ∀ Gundam, which includes the words Called Turn "A" Gundam in its logo.
The English dub of Mahou Sensei Negima! (both series) mis-stresses character names pretty much all the time, Makie being rendered as "Ma-KI-eh" and Ayaka as "Ai-YA-ka" for example. This gets lampshaded towards the end of Negima!?.
Satomi: Actually, I'm pretty sure the correct pronunciation is "Aiya-ka".
Chisame: And don't they say "MA-key-eh"?
One of the worst examples may be Idaten ("EE-da-ten") Jump, an anime series about mountain bike racing in another world. The dub had a very brief run on Cartoon Network in the USA in the so-called 6:00 AM "deathslot". In this series, the title is regularly and constantly pronounced "eye-DAHT-en" Jump. Either the dubbers really didn't know how to pronounce it, or felt that it wouldn't appeal as much to Americans if they used the original pronounciation. It also doesn't help that most episodes were actually two Japanese episodes combined to make one American episode.
The otherwise good dub of Ah! My Goddess TV had this with a few names (most notably, the heavenly computer Yggdrasil; only the movie got the pronunciation anywhere close to right). Unlike most examples, AMG mispronounced more names as the show went on.
Yggdrasil is hard to pronounce anyway (the correct pronunciation is something like "Y'g-dra-sill", as if you were saying "yug" but without stressing the vowel sound).
The dub of the Genshiken OVA episodes has this. In the first episode, everyone mispronouces Ogiue's name (as "Oh-jee-way"); in the second episode, it's half-right, half-wrong; and by the final episode, her name is pronounced consistently correctly. It's pretty obvious that the director realized his mistake halfway through recording and couldn't go back and fix the earlier screw-ups.
Even Hellsing, largely considered one of the best dubs of all time, has this. Unlike English, Japanese has no distinction between L and R, so "Alucard" ("Dracula" backwards, natch) is pronounced "Aru-kah-do" and rendered "Arucard" in the subtitles. They tried to get the dubbing team to use this (wrong) pronunciation too but the dub studio, having common sense, refused. There are a few fans who will mispronounce the name to this day, even after being corrected by the actor who played the character.
Also, is it Pip "Bernadotte" or "Vernedead"? Is Walter's last name "Dornez", "Dollneaz", or something else entirely?
One scanslation group for Parasyte consistently called the main character Shinji. Another called him Shinichi. Shinichi appears to be the correct one, but for fans who started out reading the scans chronicling the adventures of Shinji, it's just a bit strange to adjust to. (The same has happened with other characters as well, whose names changed even more drastically between scanlation groups.)
In a twist of sheer irony, the word "Anime" is extremely commonly mispronounced outside of Japan, even by Anime fans. Whereas most would say "A-nih-may" or "Ah-nih-may", the truly correct pronunciation is "Ah-nee-meh"
Though, as it comes from the Japanese pronunciation of "animation" - i.e. it's NOT originally a Japanese word - saying it like "animation" without the "-tion" would certainly be a correct pronunciation.
And interestingly enough, the Japanese don't pronounce it like "Animé" (what it would sound like if one shortened the word "Animation", and how the French pronounce it), but "Ánime".
Arisu Maresato in the High School Of The Dead dub. Apparently, none of the voice actors were aware that Arisu was the Japanese spelling and pronunciation for "Alice", so her name ends up being pronounced like "ah-REE-soo".
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Is Gurren "goo-REHN"(said almost like "Gren"), or "goo-ren"? Whereas the former is the correct pronunciation (if the Japanese version is to be believed), the latter is used in the Bang Zoom dub.note It gets really egregious when you realize that they actually said "Gurren" correctly in their Bleach dub (Hitsugaya's bankai is called Dai-Gurren Hyorinmaru).
There's also Simon. The original opts for "Shimon", while the dub uses "See-MON". And, to the eternal frustration of fans, non-fans refer to him as "Sigh-mun".
Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail appears to be subject to this. Based on the Japanese pronunciation of her name, "EH-roo-zuh", its English equivalent would be "AIR-za". The English dubs, however, refer to her as "UHR-zah". While it may aggravate certain fans, there do exist several words beginning with "er" that are phonetically pronounced "uhr" in English and "EH-roo" in Japanese, so which version is "right" really can't be anywhere other than in the ears of the beholder.
The English dub for the Rurouni Kenshin anime uses several Japanese names for characters and fighting techniques. These are often pronounced inconsistently by the voice actors.
Sony's dub takes this farther. Ignoring some random name changes, Japanese names are always pronounced in the most Americanized way possible. For example, "Aoshi" is consistently pronounced "Ay-oh-she".
Ironically, Beelzemon from Digimon Tamers actually follows the syllable stress for Beelzebub noted further down the page...except most of the characters turn it into bee-AL-ze-mon instead of bee-EL-ze-mon, usually when shouting. It was confirmed not to have an A in it with the episode title Beelzemon's Big Day, but both pronunciations were still used, depending on the speaker.
The promotional advert for Cardfight!! Vanguard on the Youtube channel has the announcer pronounce Aichi's name as 'Eye-ich-ee' instead of 'eye-chi'. This also happens in the adverts for the first Trial Decks and Booster packs
The Hungarian dub of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood had trouble with the names Xing, Sheska, Barry, and Slicer. Xing started out as "Ksing" (should be "shing"), Sheska as "Shetz-kuh", Barry alternated between "Berry" and "Bar-rie", but most absurdly, they kept saying the name "Slicer" as if it were a Hungarian word: "Shlee-tzerr" (why they didn't just translate it, as they had in the first anime, is anyone's guess). Incidentally, the voice actor who first made this blunder was also the only VA in Naruto who kept pronouncing jutsu as "yutzu".
The dubbing of the first series wasn't without its faults either: Roy Mustang's actor at first mispronounced Hawkeye as "Hokey" and Shou as "So-u".
Applied In-Universe in Tamako Market. While the Prince may pronounce Choi as Cho'i, the market community call her anywhere between Cho'i to Choy.
The new Big Bad of Bleach is named Yhwach, and no one in the whole fandom really knows how to pronounce that. Before receiving the proper romanization of the name from Tite Kubo (and still afterwards, sometimes), he was called Juhabach or Yuhabaha.
Irene's name in Blood+ is always pronounced "eye-REEN" (the American way) rather than "ee-REN" (the French and intended way) in the English dub. Some translations spell her name as "Iréne" to make it more clear.
No one in the cast of Nelvana's dub of Card Captor Sakura could ever agree on how Sakura's name should be pronounced. Some actors even pronounce it in different ways during different times. The most common ones both have the Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable as either "sah-KOO-rah" or "sah-CUR-rah."
X-Men founder and leader Dr. Charles Xavier. In English, the name "Xavier" is traditionally pronounced "Zavier." There is a large contingent of fans who pronounce it as "Ex-avier," a pronunciation used in all of the X-Men media.
Lampshaded in an issue of Ultimate X-Men, where a foreman overseeing repairs on the mansion asks Xavier how to pronounce his name. Xavier doesn't actually answer the question.
Back in the old days before animated series and movies, there was a small group of fans who insisted on pronouncing "Magneto" with a short "e" (as in "magnet"), and as late as the 1970s Stan Lee professed uncertainty over the prober pronunciation. However, Paul McCartney pronounced it with a long "e" (as in "neat") in the Wings number "Magneto and Titanium Man", and later adaptations followed suit.
Batman villain Ras Al Ghul. Properly spelled "رأس الغول", has been pronounced "Raysh Al Ghoul" and "Roz Al Ghoul". The correct pronunciationnote "Rah sell-rule" with russian pronounciation on the first R and french on the second one. The A is pronounced like the A in "jaw" (shorter in modern standard arabic, like a short "Ha!"). The ' symbol (called hamza) separating the A and the S is a simple glottal stop/click (it's normally used to separate two vocals, like the N in "an opera", "an apple", "an illusion" etc). This sound is dropped in dialects using the long A in "Ra's". Also, some dialects may pronounce the A in "al" as the O in "shook". is somewhere between the two, though the latter is a bit closer.
Parodied in Batman Beyond, where Terry uses the latter pronunciation to Talia and she calmly corrects him with the former explicitly saying "but it was pronounced Raysh". Cue more internet arguing.
The correct Arabic is something like "Raz Al-Ghool" but Word Of God is "Raysh Al Ghool", which could be a case of Fridge Brilliance because Word Of Godalso says that it is not based exclusively on Arabic, but also Hebrew and other Semitic languages, suggesting a mixed heritage along with the fact that his name probably comes from a dialect from centuries before.
The infamous Mister Mxyzptlk from the Superman universe - apparently pronounced MIX-yiz-PIT-lick - could only be sent back where he came from by saying his own name backwards. Oddly enough, this one actually has two names, as there was a spelling error that was retconned into a separate entity - originally, his name was Mxyztplk. (tp, not pt.)
The Paul Dini episode about it gave a guide. After Clark fails to pronounce it correctly, Mxy turns into a blender (to "mix") then a No Celebrities Were HarmedYes album (titled "Yezz"), then "spit"s in Clark's face, before turning into a dog to "lick" the spittle off.
And before anyone asks, the pronunciation guide they gave for "kltpzyxM" was "kill-TIP-zee-ZIM". Delivered by Mxy when Superman complains.
Mxyztplk: Aw, nuts. * Disappears* .
The DC Comics Encyclopedia confirms that pronunciation.
He was a frequent villain on The Super Friends (which is only natural for an animated version; Mxy is basically a toon, after all). There his name was pronounced "MIX-zel-PLICK."
One running gag in the Dirty Pair story "Start the Violence" is an on-going argument between the girls about the proper pronunciation of "junta". Tomboy Book Dumb Kei comments "Even I know it's pronounced "hoon-ta"". While Yuri insists on using a hard "j" (according to her, an acceptable British pronunciation, but she's no Brit) for her own reasons...
Before the Watchmen movie, which used "Roar-shack", there was a great deal of confusion about how you were supposed to pronounce Rorschach, although the most common pronunciation — based on someone in the graphic novel mishearing the name as "raw shark" — was "Roar-shock", taking into account how that would sound with a British accent.
"Roar-shock" is also closer to his German namesake. And "Raw shark", intentionally or not, works as well in a heavy Noo Yawk accent as a generic English one.
The movie also identifies retired villain Moloch as "Mol-luck" as opposed to what pretty much everyone thought it was before hand, "Mow-lock".
Also, Silk Spectre's Polish surname Juspeczyk divides many (so much so that the movie only uses it written, she's referred by "Jupiter", the name her mom adapted into, instead).
Correct Polish pronunciation would be "You-SPEH-chick", but in reality no such name (most probably) exists.
Is "Ozymandias" pronounced "oz-ee-MAN-dee-us", "oz-ee-man-DEE-us", or "oz-ee-man-DYE-us"? All three can be heard from various speakers in the movie. (For the record, the first version is the best, since this is the pronunciation of the English version of the Greek name of Rameses II, the one Shelley's poem is about.)
Is "Kovacs" pronounced "koh-vacks", "koh-vahks", or "koh-vash"?
Actually, "Kovacs" is a Hungarian last name and pronounced "koh-vahch."
Tomoe, in Usagi Yojimbo is three syllables, To-mo-eh. Her sci-fi counterpart in Space Usagi was spelled Tomoeh, to help avert this.
The same is true for Tomoe in Rurouni Kenshin... or at least it's supposed to be. The voice actors in ADV's dub of the OVA pronounced it "toh-moh".
The same problem came up again in the dub of Sailor Moon S, where it was decided Tomoe Hotaru would keep her Japanese name. Unfortunately, they used the "toh-moh" pronunciation.
X-Men's Xorn. Is it pronounced like 'zorn', or is it 'ex-orn', or even 'sorn'? 'Zorn' seems to be the way it's most prominantly pronounced, but is it correct?
Phyla-Vell. 'Feela', 'phila' or 'piela'?
It would be FIE-la, because her name is a pun on "phylum," from biology. Because her brother is Genis, pronounced like "genus." Get it?
What does the name of Fantastic Four foe Kl'rt (the Super-Skrull) sound like? Klurt? Klart? Kelart? Kayelartee?
Marvel Comics's Crystar Crystal Warrior once published a pronunciation guide for all its weird names.
In Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, it is revealed that each version of the Legion of Super-Heroes has a distinct pronunciation of the planet Winath. For the Reboot version it's "Win-Athe", for the Threeboot version it's "Win-Ath", and for the post-Infinite Crisis version it's "Wine-Ath." It has been noted that this was a joke made on the debate among fans on how the name is pronounced.
Mouse Guard has Celanawe. At the end of Winter 1152 Those Two Guys tell the audience how it's pronounced.
Finder has the Llaverac clan. It's anyone's guess how the double-l is pronounced: fans go for either the Spanish pronunciation "Lyaverac" or the Welsh "[throat]ch-laverac", very roughly.
Films — Animated
Averted with Ratatouille. Just to make sure no one would get it wrong, the logo for the film includes a pronunciation guide under the title (rat-a-too-ee)
Which lead to a moment in a Swedish commercial for said movie. The movie's title was "translated" to Rĺttatouille (a portmanteu of rĺtta ("rat") and ratatouillle). Ergo, the pronounciation was changed to say "rot-a-too-ee". But the commercial seemed to make a concious effort to have it as "rot-a-toy".
The Finnish translation was basically exactly the same, only that involved using an "o" instead of an "ĺ".
In The Little Mermaid, the correct pronunciation of Ariel is "AH-ree-ell", but almost everyone in the movie (and subsequently, almost everyone else) calls her "AIR-ree-ell".
The first Hungarian dubbing of Transformers: The Movie turned "Cybertron" into "Kájbertron", pronounced "Kigh-ber-trohn", for whatever reason. The correct Hungarian translation for "cyber-" is actually "kiber-", pronounced "Kih-ber". Whereas the second dub kept alternating the pronunciation of the word "Decepticon" between "Dee-sep-ti-kon" and "Deh-sep-ti-kon" (this also came up in the dub of Transformers Armada). Most amusingly, a lot of times they made Starscream sound like "Szarsz-krém", loosely "Shit-cream" in English.
Films — Live-Action
Lampshaded in Young Frankenstein, where the characters get into an argument about Frankenstein (initially pronounced "fronk-en-STEEN") and Igor (pronounced "EYE-gore").
Also subverted, in that Frederick Frankenstein deliberately pronounces his name strangely to distance himself from his infamous grandfather. It doesn't last.
In the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Kevin McNally was the first actor to refer to the Kraken and all the other actors followed his pronunciation. The writers, who had been pronouncing it differently up to that point, were amused and a scene was later added to the film in which the characters debate the correct pronunciation.
Dr. Niko Tatopoulos in the 1998 American Godzilla film ends up being called "The Worm Guy" for this reason. (The character is named for Patrick Tatopoulos, who worked special effects on the film and had the same problem.)
Guiron from Gamera. Good lord, I don't think the movies were even sure. It's been pronounced about as many ways as you can imagine, but the one accepted by most people sounds like Gear-on. Now try "Gyaos."
Based on the Japanese spelling, it should be "goo-ee-roh-n" and "geeah-oh-s".
In an interview on the DVD bonus features, the director and lead actors of The Shawshank Redemption speculate that one of the reasons for the film's poor box office success was the title: "One for Shimsaw... Sheeshank... Shawsheck— that redemption movie."
In The Last Airbender, a great many pronunciations are inexplicably changed from the original series. Thus, Aang [Ay-ng] is pronounced Ah-ng, Iroh [Eye-roh] becomes Ee-roh, Avatar is alternately Ah-vah-tahr, Uh-vuh-tahr, and the correct version, Sokka [sounds like "sock"] is consistently called Soe-ka, and Agni Kai is now Agni Kee. The pronunciation of 'Avatar' is particularly annoying; the character's names were made up, if based on real-world languages, so saying it differently isn't that bad. But 'Avatar' is a real word, originally coming from Hinduism and now travelling into the mainstream. Why change it? According to the director, all of the pronunciations in the film were the correct way of saying the names.
In the film of Agatha Christie's Evil Under The Sun, a rather boorish Brit pronounces Poirot (pwah-ROW) as POY-row. It's easy to imagine this as a jab at people with this issue in real life.
Constantine falls victim to this. The main character's name is suppossed to be pronounced "Constant-TYNE" but instead is pronounced "Constant-TEEN."
The pronunciation of Synecdoche, New York, despite being a witty pun, isn't exactly the best title for a movie. note It's not "sign-ECK-dosh" or "sigh-NAYCK-docky", but "sih-NECK-doh-kee".
Even though The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo features LOADS and LOADS of famousswedish actors (ranging from the up-and-coming Joel Kinnaman to Bergman veteran Inga Landgré and Hollywood regular Stellan Skarsgĺrd), Swedish names are constantly mispronounced. The first name of the character "Henrik Vanger" (spelled with a K), is pronounced as "HEN-Rick" (with strong emphasis on the "Hen") by the Swedish actors. Other actors seem to think Henrik is either german ("Heinrich") or even hebrew or arabic ("Han reekh", with the K sounding more like a K)?
Especially egregious considering the amazing research director David Fincher's been doing, which includes filming on the real world locations mentioned in the book, throwing swedish words and phrases like "Hej" (Hi/hello) into the otherwise all-english dialogue and having characters constantly offering each other coffee.note Sweden has the 6th biggest coffe consumption (per person) in the world (Netherlands being the only non-scandinavian country of the other five). It's roughly twice as huge as the United States' consumption. It's a very important part of the culture, possibly comparable to the siesta of certain other countries.
In Puma Man, Kobras (Donald Pleasence) uses the British pronunciation "Pyew-ma" while everyone else pronounces it as "Poo-ma", which MST3K poked fun at throughout their viewing.
Kobras: You cannot escape me, Pyewma Man!
Mike: Oh, is that right, Dyonald?
Withnail and I: Most first-time viewers of the film are surprised to discover that it's pronounced "WITH-null". Writer/director Bruce Robinson took the name from a local eccentric who lived near his childhood home: Jonathan Withnall. He was reportedly so hopeless at spelling that he misspelled his own name on occasion. Hence, Withnail.
The Baby-Sitters Club: Is Myriah Perkins' name pronounced like "Maria" or "Mariah"? Fans can't seem to decide.
The personal name of God in The Bible. Only the consonants - yod-he-vav-he (JHWH) are known but not the vowels.
Thor from Norse Mythology has Mjolnir (pronounced MYOHL-nir). Most readers, including those of Marvel Comic's Thor, mispronounce this unless they can speak Scandinavian or look it up.
Lampshaded in the Thor film, where Darcy, the Audience Surrogate, calls it mir-mir (pronounced meer-meer) since she can't quite say it.
The very name of Thor himself. Scandinavians pronounce his name as toor. Anglophones tend to pronounce him as "thorr".
J. R. R. Tolkien averts this. All the works that feature his constructed languages have extensive guides to the pronunciation and derivation of the words used. Which is exactly what you would expect from a professor of ancient languages.
Not that this has stopped casual readers from mispronouncing things left and right — nor have the films adhered perfectly to the pronunciations given by the books.
Tolkien's Elvish languages originally used K for all hard-C sounds (unsurprising, as they were inspired by Finnish) but he later changed to consistently using C as it looked more appropriately elegant and Latinate. His son Christopher (who made the original maps) disagreed with this decision, saying nobody would think "Celeborn" is pronounced "Ke-leb-orn". Hence, why the passage into Mordor is spelled "Cirith Ungol" in the text, but "Kirith Ungol" on the map.
The BBCRadio adaptation of The Hobbit has a bit of trouble with the dwarf Dáin of the Iron Hills. Some of the actors pronounce his name "dane", others "dain" (the latter is probably correct). It also renders "Gollum" as "ga-LOOM", possibly on the mistaken assumption that it's Elvish.
Speaking of Gollum, his real name Sméagol is usually pronounced "SMEE-gol" in adaptations, although the accent might lead one to believe t's pronounced "SMAY-uh-gol". Likewise his "beloved" cousin Déagol.
Jacqueline Carey has staunchly refused to publish an official pronunciation guide for the Kushiels Legacy books, saying she prefers to let people make up their own minds (ie, Phčdre can be pronounced feh-drreuh or fay-dra or anything in between). This enormously frustrates some people, since Terre d'Ange is clearly meant to be a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of France and anglicised pronunciation just seems hugely out of place.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - While the good doctor's name is supposed to rhyme with "treacle," it's often pronounced to rhyme with "heckle." The BBC series Jekyll (essentially functioning as a sequel to the books, which were based on fact in-universe) has the 21st century characters consistently call Jekyll "jeckle", though a flashback to Robert Louis Stevenson has Stevenson pronounce the name "jeakle". This is pointed out by the characters.
Despite HP Lovecraft giving an official pronunciation, there's still raging debate over how to pronounce several of the Cosmic Horrors he came up with, which was sorta the point to begin with; these words were the closest the human tongue could come to pronouncing truly alien sounds
The most famous example is Cthulhu, officially pronounced KHH-loo-HH-loo, but often pronounced all sorts of ways.
There's even a lot of discrepancy on how the word is even spelled. Cthulhu is the most common, but Tulu, Clulu, Clooloo, Cthulu, C'thulhu, Cighulu, Cathulu, Kathulu, Kutulu, Kthulhu, Q?thulu, Ktulu, Kthulhut, Kulhu, Kutunluu, Cuitiliú, and Thu Thu have all been used at one point or another. Just lends more credence to the idea that humans really can't say it right...
Many readers (including Jim Dale, the narrator of the American audiobooks) had trouble with the name "Hermione" ("Her-my-oh-nee") from Harry Potter until Goblet of Fire, where she pronounces it phonetically with the note that 'Hermy-own' is the wrong way to say it. Others were under the impression that her last name, "Granger," had two hard "g"s and rhymed with "anger"; in the movies, the internal "g" is soft (GRAIN-jer). Both names do exist in real life, but are uncommon (there are 564 Hermiones and 2605 Grangers on the UK electoral register).
On the other hand, fans of Are You Being Served? will recall a "Mr. Grainger," and pronounce accordingly.
Because of this, the German version changed her name to the more easily pronounceable "Hermine".
This is possibly parodied in The Order of the Phoenix, where Hagrid's half-brother is too stupid to wrap his primitive mind around a name like "Hermione" and knows her as "Hermy."
Rowling once recalled one fan that pronounced it "Hermy-One." It amused her enough that she briefly considered making it the official pronounciation of her name.
On the children's TV series Arthur, the in-universe equivalent of Harry Potter is "Henry Skeever", complete with a character named Persephone, which the kids pronounce "PER-suh-fohwn" until Mr. Ratburn happens to overhear them and corrects their pronunciation (per-SEF-ahn-ee).
Similarly, while J. K. Rowling has said the "T" in "Voldemort" is silent, in keeping with the name's obvious French root ("flight-from-death"), many people (including movie characters, and Stephen Fry on the audio book) pronounces it. One of the geek-trio in Buffy gives it a silent T, strengthening his nerd-cred.
Jim Dale did get that one right, which gets him a lot of forgiveness for Her-Miney.
The problems were not alone on the American books. Stephen Fry spends much of Philosopher's Stone convinced that Harry is in "gruh-FIN-dor" house.
And the two of them share a belief that Harry's rival is Draco mal-FOY.
The Wheel of Time is notorious for difficult-to-pronounce Old Tongue terms - while it does supply pronunciations in the glossary, who's going to remember how to say "Tel'aran'rhiod" or "Al'cair'rahienallen"?
Just say "the Dream World" and "Cairhien" (KEYE-ree-ehn).
To make matters worse, the pronunciation guides in the glossary are not only horribly incomplete but also ambiguous and difficult to interpret. Worst of all, the books contradict each other. The name "Be'lal" is given in The Dragon Reborn as "beh-LAAL" and in The Shadow Rising as "BEH-lahl".
Most famously, Robert Jordan insisted that fans asking questions be sure to pronounce Taim as "tah-EEM" not "tame." Almost nobody listened, and now, after his Author Existence Failure, it seems the fan pronunciation will be the one that sticks.
Even the audiobooks seem unsure of how to pronounce some words, as there are subtle differences between how the male and female narrators pronounce some names and places. As well, partway through the series they abruptly begin pronouncing Moghedien's name differently, among a number of other sudden changes.
The demonym for the people of Tarabon is, of course, pronounced "Tear-a-BONER."
Several of the names in The Jungle Book have this problem, particularly "Mowgli", which is almost never pronounced right (Rudyard Kipling specifically stated that the "Mow" of Mowgli rhymes with "cow"). Kipling included a pronunciation guide, "How to Say the Names in This Book", in All the Mowgli Stories (1933), but by then it may have been too late. Other examples include Shere Khan - Sheer Karn; Bagheera - Bag-eera (same as an "era" in history); Baloo - Bar-loo; and Akela - A-kay-la. When using this guide, however, it's important to remember that Kipling was employing the British silent "r" before a consonant, so "Sheer Karn" would be pronounced "Sheer Kahn". All clear?
On the subject of the correct pronunciation of the name "Aziraphale", Terry Pratchett says "It should be Azz-ear-raf-AY-lee, but we got into the habit of pronouncing it Azz-ear-raf-ail, so That is the right way now."
The book itself features a spoof of how telephone operators tend to mispronounce peoples names.
And on the pronunciation of Magrat (which is meant to be a mispelling of "Margaret", so is presumably pronounced the same), he says: "Magrat is pronounced Magg-rat. Doesn't matter what I think is right — everyone I've heard pronounce it has pronounced it Maggrat."
And then there was the Angua fiasco. Word Of God has it that Angua is pronounced "'Ang' as in Anger, 'u' as in you, 'a' as in a thing."
"'And I am Lio!rt Dragonlord,' said the hanging man, pronouncing the word with a harsh click in the back of the throat that Rincewind could only think of as a kind of integral punctuation." (The Colour of Magic), a reference to the click sound found in the !Xhosa and other languages.
Clive Barker's Imajica has some extremely bizarre names for places and people, such as "Hapexamendios", "Yzordderrex", and "Pie 'oh' Pah". Word Of God is that the correct pronunciation is whatever the reader wants it to be.
The Five Star Stories, home of such linguistic nightmares as Qukey, Kclapp, Nukkundolah Swans (which Word Of God has apparently decreed is supposed to be pronounced Su-BAH-su), A-toll, Partolk Crytharis, Myoury Kinky, Wascha Codante & many others.
George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire has names like Daenerys Targaryen, Jhiqi, Prendal na Ghezn, Jaqen H'ghar, Mirri Maz Duur, and Xaro Xhoan Daxos, and few, if any, hints as to how they're supposed to be pronounced.
Word Of God is that readers can pronounce them however they want to, though obviously Martin does say some of the names during readings. When the series was adapted for television as Game of Thrones, the showrunners got Martin's pronunciations and made them "official." Here's a Making-Of special with some of them.
Even some of the "normal" names get in on the act. While it's easy for book readers to assume that Catelyn Stark's name is a an odd spelling of "Caitlin," her nickname is "Cat," as in the feline, and in the show everybody calls her "Kat-e-lin" (as in "Katherine").
This is made even worse by the fact that audiobooks for the series have been done by two different readers so far, who sometimes agreed and sometimes not. And occasionally both were at odds with the author, who doesn't always pronounce his names consistently anyway. The most obvious problem is how to pronounce Jaime Lannister's first name. Is it "Hai-may," as in Spanish? Homophonous to English "Jamie"? Is it only one syllable similar to "James" without the "s"? Is it one syllable but pronounced some other way? Who knows?
In real life, it's often pronounced like the English "Jamie", although it's typically a girl's name.
In America, but in Britain it's almost always a boy's name (a diminuitive of James). Given that the TV series establishes a British-sounding range of accents for the setting, it's possible Martin had the British usage of the name in mind when naming him.
Parodied in an episode of the TV adaptation: Tyrion and Bronn try to guess how to pronounce "Archmaester Ch'vyalthan".
Good luck with some of the Edenist names in Peter Hemilton's Night's Dawn Trilogy. The enhanced humans have names like Syrinx, Eysk, Sinon, and Athene. The voidhawks and blackhawks, Edenist-designed ships, are even worse, with names like Oenone and Udat. Then there are the aliens...
Most of the Edenist names are classical, which makes it a little easier, but how the heck do you pronounce "Kiint"?
St. John Rivers in Jane Eyre always trips people up: it's pronounced "Sinjin," not "Saint John."
Margaret Oliphant's novel Miss Marjoribanks prompted some puzzled queries from her Victorian contemporaries. According to Word Of God, it's "Marchbank."
The Star Wars Expanded Universe is all over this trope. Wedgan'tilles vs. Wedge Antilles for starters. Is the Y in Kyp a lax /I/ or the diphthong /ai/? Then you get Jabba's full name, Jabba Desilijic Tiure.
And, on that note, does anyone here know how exactly to pronounce "C'baoth"? Se-BAY-oth? Kuh-BOWth? See-BOTH? Any takers?
In the margin notes of the 20th Anniversary Edition of Heir To The Empire, Timothy Zahn states that it's "SA-Bay-oth," and wryly notes "If I'd realized how hard it was going to be for everyone else to figure it out, I would have changed the spelling." He also says that the audiobooks tended to confuse the issue and vary; apparently there was one pronunciation guide that got Tatooine wrong.
In the audiobook of the Thrawn Trilogy - which is abridged to the point of losing most of its plot - Dennis Lawson, who played Wedge, pronounces Antilles as "Aun-till-is".
There's also the love of Wedge's life, Iella. Ee-ella or Eye-ella? Stackpole says it's the second.
Thrawn's full name is Mitth'raw'nuruodo. Myth-raw-nuroo-odo? Mi-thrawn-uruodo? The Star Wars Retrospective thinks it's more like Mitthraw-nuru-odo. All we know is that according to Outbound Flight, people hearing his name for the first time have a decided tendency to mispronounce it, and some never manage to say it correctly at all.
Kahlan from Sword of Truth is intuitively pronounced "KAH-lan" or maybe "ka-LAHN", although Word Of God, the TV series, and (some of the) the audio books inexplicably pronounce it "KAY-lan".
The odd pronunciation (what with that tricky "h" and all) probably comes from the pronunciation of Rachel Kahlandt's name, since that is quite obviously where Goodkind came up with Kahlan's name.
Joan Hess got tired of people calling the town of Maggody, where her Arly Hanks mysteries are set, "Mah-goad-ee", so added some scenes where residents correct others' pronunciation, or rhyme it with "raggedy" in a song.
Fans of The Gray Chronicles are still debating how to pronounce the main character's first name, Taques. The fact that he's got both Brazilian and French heritage leads to an impressive amount of Fan Wank about it. This is precisely why he goes by Gray, which is actually his middle name, but he got tired of people who couldn't say Roreau properly. And yes, fandom can't figure that name out either. The series hangs a lampshade on this so often it's a Running Gag at this point.
Discworld has the creepy assassin Mr. Teatime (Tay-ah-teem-eh), who will stab you repeatedly if you pronounce it wrong.
In fact, the book explicitly (and repeatedly) states that it's pronounced Teh-ah-tim-eh. The movie pronunciation is a result of Marc Warren not doing his research.
Dune is full of Arabic and Arabic-derived words that, to this day, no two books-on-tape will render the same way. (Try pronouncing "Kwisatz Haderach" at first glance, for example.)
David (and Leigh) Eddings do provide one pronunciation hint in their Belgariad/Malloreon series: during a conversation with Belgarion, Ce'nedra tells him that her name actually starts with a soft "X" sound, like every dryad-kin's does (i.e. everyone in-world is pronouncing it wrong). As for every other name you encounter in that world... good luck and happy guessing.
The first two audio books of The Dresden Files pronounce Marcone with a long 'e' at the end: Mar-CONE-ee. For the third audiobook, there is an introduction from Jim Butcher, mostly about how the series hits its stride here at Grave Peril. From that point on, Marcone has been pronounced as simply: Mar-CONE. Perhaps he said something about it when he recorded the intro. (incidentally, the sound editing also gets much better at around book three.)
Lamshaded in-series: in Changes, Harry comes across a monster called the Ik'k'uox. He resorts to calling it 'the Ick'
The Tortall novels by Tamora Pierce don't have pronunciation guides (even in the books that have lists of all the characters in the back) but there is a guide available on Pierce's website. Of course, by the time you get there you may be too set in your ways to change your preferred pronunciation.
Ingsoc. It's a Portmanteau of "English Socialism" so it is probably meant to be pronounced "Ingsosh", but one has to wonder why they didn't just spell it that way, especially since they were willing to change "England" to "Ing" instead of "Eng".
There's a long tradition of abbreviating society in English schools and universities (e.g. French Soc, run by the Clubs and Socs Sec). While society is not socialism, Orwell's original readers might be assumed to be comfortable with the construction thing-soc. For the same reason, Eng Soc would be parsed as Engineering Society by many.
Dismayed by how badly readers mispronounced his Fenarian (read: Hungarian) and Dragaeran names, Steven Brust added a pronunciation guide to the compilation editions of his Vlad Taltos novels.
Dracula. The original appearance of the title character, pop culture would have you pronounce it "Drack You Luh" but there's also "Druck Ool" or "Thruck oo la". This problem extends to any character named Alucard.
Elphaba: If you read the book before seeing the musical and don't know the gag behind the name (not having been given a personal name in the original books, the Wicked Witch of the West is named in honour of L. Frank Baum's initials in Maguire's series), there's every chance you'll pronounce it with the stresses in the wrong places: El-PHA-ba rather than ELPH-a-ba.
Somewhat ironic considering the pains taken to ensure that everyone knows Glinda's name is meant to be pronounced with two syllables and an extra "a" (GA-linda), although this is justified as it affects a minor plot point later in the book.
Enders Game averts this for the most part: people with strangely pronounced names get an explanation at some point. Some examples are "Bonzo" (pronounced in the Spanish manner: "Bone-so") and "Achilles" (pronounced in the French manner: "Ah-sheel").
For the first 11 books of the Honor Harrington series, the audiobook reader Allyson Johnson pronounced "Manticoran" as "Man-TICK-or-an", thanks to a misunderstood e-mail from David Weber. In subsequent books, she pronounces it "Man-ti-CORE-an".
Depending on your knowledge of the root language, some other names in the book can cause confusion when talking to other fans — is Silesia "si-LEEJ-ah" or "sil-es-ee-ah"? Is Andermani "and-er-man-ee", "ahnd-er-mahn-ee", or "and-er-mahn-ee"?
Victor Cachat has been called "ka-chat", "ka-shay", "cah-shat", and "ka-khat", at least. We finally get a pronunciation guide for his name in Torch of Freedom (its "cah-shah").
Saturday Night Live had a skit in 1992 starring Nicholas Cage, where he and his pregnant wife Julia Sweeney were discussing baby names. He would shut down every suggestion she had by claiming kids would make fun of their son's name: Joseph would become Joe Blow, William would be Willie Wonka, and "no Peter, no Dick, no Rod!" Finally, they receive a telegram, and the deliverer (played by Rob Schneider) reads it out to them: "Congratulations to Asswipe and Emily on your new bundle of joy! Love, Bob and Jennifer." Nicholas leans in and says, "It's pronounced Oz-wee-pay."
The Goodies episode "Bunfight at the OK Tea Room" has an Overly-Long Gag about the pronunciation of the word "scone". The joke is that both the long-O and short-O pronunciations are correct, and which one is favoured depends on the region.
On Buffy, when a new monster appeared whose name pronunciation wasn't obvious, whoever first said the name on-screen got to decide the proper pronunciation and everyone else had to follow suit.
Especially jarring in "School Hard", when Spike speaks it for the first time, rendering something closer to Ahn-jeh-LUS.
That explains why they insist on AnGELus rather than ANgelus.
Lampshaded at least once, of course. "Maybe it's Mmmmmm-Fashnik, like 'mmmmm cookies!'"
Spike: Oh, balls. You didn't say the thing was a Glarghk Guhl Kashma'nik.
Xander: Because I can't say Glarkgkl...
Stargate SG-1 had problems with the pronunciation of the series enemies, the Goa'uld, that seemed integrated into the characters. More carefully-spoken characters like Teal'c would pronounce it "go-AH-oold." O'Neill, on the other hand, pronounced it "GOULD."
Each SG-1 team member seemed to have their own way of pronouncing the name, each of them unique but internally consistent: Teal'c had his Chris-Judge-is-overpronouncing style, O'Neill had his flat Northern Middle-American. Michael Shanks had the compromise with "Go-Uld" and Amanda Tapping's Canadian-by-way-of-England gave us something like to "Go-Old". The best is Don Davis (from Missouri) playing Hammond (of Texas) drawling out "Gewld."
This was actually lampshaded in the series, when they corrected an official document which spelled it as "Gould".
Also, the alien Tok'ra and Asgard consistently pronounce it as "Gah-oold." Perhaps intentionally, as a slur.
Especially since the word literally means "god" in their language. Who wants to keep calling their enemies "gods"?
This briefly became Truth in Television when the geeks at the National Defense University in Washington ran a wargame. Wanting exotic-sounding names, they seized on the Goa'uld and the Ja'ffa as rival pirate clans in a fictional Gulf state. Thus, for a few days, US military personnel were struggling with (and inventing their own wild pronunciations for) the names of two fictional alien races.
Stargate Atlantis was similarly inconsistent with the name "Daedalus". There are a number of acceptable pronunciations in Real Life for this name, but 'ded-a-lis' isn't one of them.
The Kelownans originally called them the "Guld", but only because they were looking at old manuscripts. Teal'c corrected them.
Ursula Le Guin sent a list of pronunciations to the producers of the TV adaptation of the Earthsea Trilogy, but they ignored it.
During the improvisations over the closing credits of the original, British version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, contestants got a lot of mileage out of the name of video editor Mykola Pawluk.
On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, everyone, including the character himself, alternates between pronouncing his name "Quark" (the way it's spelt) and "Quork" and some weird mixture of both.
Red Skies, a 2002 Pilot Movie set in Los Angeles, features a Chinese female police officer who teams up with an FBI task-force. The surname of the chief villain is Zhou, and the cast's pronunciation varies from perfect (the female lead is Chinese actor Vivian Wu) to all-over-the-place. Given the background, this is completely realistic, and actually adds to characterisation.
There's a hilarious example of this in the Poirot episode "The Disappearance of Mr Davenheim":
Deliveryman with parrot: Mornin', sir, I've got a parrot for Mr. Poy-rot.
Poirot: "Pwah-ROW." It is pronounced "pwah-ROW."
Deliveryman: Oh, I beg your pardon, guvnor. I've got a pwah-row for Mr. Poyrot. (hands Poirot the cage)
Actors in the Doctor Who serial "The Daemons" don't seem to be in agreement as to whether the word is pronounced "DAY-mons" or "DEE-mons".
MythQuest: When Alex and Cleo investigate a Welsh myth, Alex has plenty of trouble with the Welsh spellings. In a later episode, he struggles with Aztec names as well.
Can you figure out how to say Guinan without hearing it? (We'll put you out of your misery, it's Guy-nun)
The Muppet Show: The pink cow-like creatures known as the Snowths (who provide backup for Mahna Mahna). Since the creatures' names are never made audible, fans have been confused as to the correct pronunciation; some pronounce it the way it is spelled, "Snow-th", however, because the creatures' names are supposed to be derived from the words "Snout" and "mouth" (and they are cow-like), some fans pronounce it as, "Sn-OW-th".
In Suburgatory Dalia's name was usually pronounced Day-lia in season one, but changed to Dah-lia in season two. Most of the time.
The beatmania IIDX song "AA" has no official pronunciation. It's been pronounced as "A-A," "double A," "double A's," among other things.
The pop'n music song (and IIDX transplant) "?????". Yes, Fs with hooks, as in the musical notation. Is it pronounced "five F", "five forte" (or "five forté" - see below), "pentaforte", "Five Hammer" (actually the credited artist), "Hard P?" (actually the genre, and its name in the song list in PNM), "fortisisisisimo", or just "FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFU-"?
Aphex Twin's Drukqs. "Drucks"? "Druck-yoos"? And that's not even getting into the track titles.
Averted in Lynyrd Skynyrd's debut album, (pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd). That's the name of the album.
Autechre are kings of this trope, down to their name ("aw-TEK-er" being the commonly accepted pronounciation.) Most song titles range anywhere from "Perlence" and "Cipater" to "Cep puiqMX" and "Cfern".
Magma sing in their own invented language, so it's anyone's guess as to the pronunciation of the words, to give an especially extreme example, "Scxyss."
The first time Avril Lavigne appeared on MTV's Total Request Live, the first thing host Carson Daly did was ask her how her name is pronounced. It's "AV-rill Luh-VEEN". Daly had previously been calling her "Uh-VRIL Luh-VEEN".
Heavy Metal Umlauts are almost always wrong, but that doesn't stop people trying to pronounce them anyway, especially if they speak a language that actually uses umlauts. Motley Crue concerts in Germany often have fans chanting "Moo-ert-lee Croo-eh"
The heavy metal band Trojan made a faux pas in Sweden by applying umlaut over the 'o' on their concert T-shirts. The swedish word tröjan means simply "the shirt". Applying the umlaut over the a ("Trojän") would pretty well approximate its real pronunciation.
Many a fan of Can has pondered over just how the hell you pronounce the names of the albums Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi. (It's "TAH-go MAH-go" and "EGG-uh BUM-yuh-see.")
Rammstein use their name in a handful of songs and it's definitely pronounced Rahm-Shtine. That doesn't stop American DJs from prouncing it Ram-Steen.
The Japanese band "7!!", which is pronounced "seven oops." Sort of averted; the pronunciation is usually pointed out or even used in place of the real name, because Google doesn't know how to search for "7!!".
The British band Sade pronounced "Sha-DAY", is often mispronounced "Sah-day" or "Shar-day".
Anytime the word "Shaman" appears. Someone is going to argue whether the first syllables has a long or soft "A". The terrible part? Both are technically correct.
Also, the Clay Warrior of legend who has been adapted into both Pokémon and many forms of fantasy (most notably D&D). "Golum" (the typical US pronunciation), or "Go-lem" (the British)?
How do you pronounce the name that translates as the Lord of the Flies? BEEL-zuh-bub, be-EL-zeh-bub, or BELL-zee-bub?
be-EL-zeh-bub is probably the best, as the word derives from the word Ba'al, meaning Lord in several Semitic languages. It's pronounced with two syllables, with a glottal stop in the middle. And it's how Queen pronounced it in "Bohemian Rhapsody," and they are the highest earthly authority.
This was the case with most names until the writer started handing out the correct pronunciations to fans. Encyclopedias also had guides on how on pronounce names, but other forms of media (like video games or movies, even the writer himself in his podcast) still had them confused. The most infamous case is that of Lewa: is it "Ley-wuh", "Leh-wuh", perhaps "Lee-wuh", or "Loo-ah"? Other names beginning with "Le-" also have this issue.
Further, the Inika are variably called "ee-Nigh-kuh" and "ee-Nee-kuh", and the names of Onua and Onewa or Krekka and Krika are often mixed up.
Names like Kraata, Gaaki, Kiina or Avohkii are also pronounced with double-vowels in some media and with long vowels in others.
Kopeke's pronounced as "ko-Peek", but many fans go by the pronunciation they had heard in their heads ("ko-Pe-ke) before the official one was made clear. Jaller has it the other way around: his name was spelled as "Jala" at first, and "Jaller" is supposed to be said the same way, but some fans pronounce his new spelling with an "-er" at the end.
Some dubs of the first movie pronounce Pewku ("Poo-koo") as "Pev-koo".
Tzeentch from Warhammer and the Tau from Warhammer 40,000. Given that it's a god, it only seems appropriate that there's an endless number of pronunciations used by the fanbase.
'Zeench' is the most common, the 't' being silent. 'Tuh-zeench' and 'zeen-tish' are other possibilities. Dawn of War showed the first pronunciation being used. As for 'Tau', the argument is about whether it rhymes with 'cow' or with 'core'. There are other examples of confusion. The C'tan, for instance, are called 'Suh-tan' half the time and 'Kuh-tan' the other half.
Assuming the Tau pronounce it the same way the Greeks did, it's actually "taw".
Vampire: The Masquerade actually featured two. One was the vampire clan Tzimisce, which was so awkward that not only did nobody know how to pronounce it, nobody could even get into flame wars about it because it was just that confusing. Eventually, White Wolf released a revised edition of the game that included a pronunciation - fittingly, one almost nobody had thought of (zhi-mee-see).
On the other hand, there has been no clarification on the clan Tremere - while most pronounce it "treh-MEER", there are some who insist it's "TREH-meh-ray". And then there are those of us that insist on 'TREH-mare'.
One edition did specify "treh-MEER". Some fans thought that the Latin was too doggy even for them, and continued to pronounce it "TREH-meh-reh".
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, which was fully voiced, used 'Treh-MEER'. Though, despite having one as part of a subplot, "Tzimisce" only appears on a health meter and player dialogue options.
There's also a debate over the pronunciation of Clan Brujah. (Broo-JAH vs. Broo-HA)
Some die hard Werewolf: The Apocalypse players insist the pronunciation of Metis (werewolf on werewolf offspring) is 'MET-is' despite 'MAY-tee' being a term for mixed race, used throughout the Americas for centuries. White Wolf hates language.
Then again, there's also a Real Life example of the first pronunciation, a minor pagan deity, also Greek.
Actually, MET-isse and MAY-tee are both correct when referring to the mixed races. In French Canada, MAY-tee (Métis) is masculine, and MET-is (Metisse) is feminine.
Exalted has everyone's favorite middle-management fate ninjas, the Sidereal Exalts. In the best White Wolf tradition, the preferred fan pronunciation (sid-EHR-ee-al) has largely trumped Webster (sigh-DEER-ee-al), even among those who know better.
The Dark Elf race, the Drow, in Dungeons & Dragons. Officially, it can be pronounced one of two ways - rhyming with "cow" and rhyming with "know", and both are considered correct. Doesn't stop people from arguing that only their pronunciation is correct.
The Finnish translations of R. A. Salvatore and Elaine Cunningham seem to have decided to use declensions of the word "drow" that imply the end "w" is supposed to be pronounced as a consonant, which they must know would never appear in anything written in English.
Word Of God, in response to a question in Dragon Magazine is that "flind" is pronounced to rhyme with "wind". Isn't that helpful?
Keith Baker, creator of the Eberron campaign setting, responds to all pronunciation questions about the world's innumerable hard-to-pronounce names is that all pronunciations are correct in one of the world's dialects.
Fans of Ravenloft's Strahd von Zarovich had to wait for the audiobook of I, Strahd to find out whether they'd been pronouncing the vampire darklord's first name wrong.
Magic: The Gathering has Sekki, Pronunciation's Guide, a defunct feature of the website which corrects mispronunciations of Magic's glut of terms.
And that feature ended before they could settle the pronunciation of Garruk. It's common to hear players pronounce it as either GAIR-rek with the emphasis on the first syllable or guh-ROOK with emphasis on the second. In a cutscene for one of the video games, Nicol Bolas pronounces it guh-ruhk with emphasis on neither syllable.
Nobilis: Excrucians tend to have names based on medieval and Gothic words, and so it can be a bit hard to figure out how you're supposed to pronounce them.
Monopoly: "Reading Railroad" is commonly called the REED-ing Railroad, but it's actually the REDD-ing Railroad, which served Atlantic City until 1976 (and was named after the city in Pennsylvania and, by extension, the city in England).
Any of the Mohawk names in Assassins Creed III, particularly the main character Ratohnhaké:ton. It's pronounced "Ra-don-ha-gay-don" in game but everyone just calls him Connor.
The final boss of the first two EarthBound games, which has been translated as both Giegue and Giygas. Guyguh? Gyiguh? Giygus? Guy-gas? Giga? Guygway? Guygyoo? Geeguh? There are no limits to the possible pronunciations, and no matter how unlikely it seems, there's at least one supporter for every possible pronunciation.
The original Japanese pronunciation is "Giigu", and it appears in the opening of Mother 2 as "Gyiyg". This suggests that "Giegue", at the least, is supposed to be pronounced "Gee-goo", though "Gyiyg" should probably be pronounced as either "Geeg" or "Gyeeg" (rhymes with Tweeg). "Giygas" is therefore likely "Gee-gas" or "Gee-gahs".
Are the Draenei in World of Warcraft pronounced "DRAN-eye" or "DRAHN-eye"? The narrator in their intro pronounces it the first way. Characters in-game pronounce it the second way.
This is lampshaeded in one of the /silly jokes for Female Draenei.
"Why does everyone have trouble with the name of our people? It sounds just like it is spelled."
Then there's the ongoing Heigan debate (is it HEE-gan, HAY-gan, or HIGH-gan?). Us World of Warcraft players also can't decide whether to use a hard CH or a soft CH (Archavon etc.)
Meanwhile, what's the difference between "x" and "xx" (Naxxramas, Axxarien, etc.) supposed to be?
There is also the age-old debate, stretching all they way back to the days of classic World of Warcraft, over the correct pronunciation of Scholomance. To be more precise, it comes down to whether the 'Sch' is pronounced as a hard 'Sk' sound as in 'school', or a soft 'Sh' sound. There was a lengthy forum thread on the subject and Blizzard later lampshaded this in their spoof April Fools' Day patch notes for 1.11: http://www.wowpedia.org/Patch_1.11_%28Evil_Patch_Notes%29. (It's "SKO-lo-mance", apparently).
The voice actors don't seem to agree on whether Sin'dorei is pronounced "sin-DOOR-ee" or "sin-dor-EYE".
The names of both Bahamut and Ifrit find origins in old tales in ancient languages, so it was a surprise for most people to hear them pronounced Ba-ha-MOOT and EE-freet in Final Fantasy XII, rather than Ba-HA-mutt or i-FREET.
No-one else thought it was pronounced if-rit? You know, how it's spelled?
In Final Fantasy II, the character Josef's name should be pronounced like "Yosef," not "Joseph."
Starting to come up thanks to the Updated Re-release of Final Fantasy IV. In real life, both "SEE-sil" and "SES-sil" are used. Many people had assumed that Cecil had a long "E" in his name, like Cecil Turtle from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, and were thus surprised to hear it pronounced in-game with a short "E" to match the Se-shi-ru spelling in the Japanese version.
Cait Sith in Final Fantasy VII. His name has never been voiced, apart from when Cid refers to him as merely "Cait" in one line of Dirge of Cerberus, pronouncing it like "Kate". It's actually pronounced "Kett shee", and is based on the Cat Sěth, a creature from Scottish folklore, which is pronounced the same way.
It seems like it should be obvious how Zack (as in Zack Fair) is pronounced, but the Japanese consistently spell (when writing in katakana) and pronounce his name like "Zacks", with a distinct "s" sound on the end. Similar with Rufus, who is "Roo-fows" (rhymes with "house") in Japanese media, rather than the more sensible "Roo-fuss".
There is some discrepancy between how to pronounce Sephiroth; the Japanese version pronounces it SEP-ee-roth, the English language versions always pronounce it Sef-er-roth. This despite the fact his second form's battle music has lyrics that include his name.
What about Quistis from VIII? It's commonly mispronounced as "Quiss-tis" when it's supposed to be pronounced "Kees-tis".
Then there's Zidane from Final Fantasy IX. Zy-DANE? Zid-dan-NEE? Zid-NEE? Zee-DANE? Zih-DANE? The suggestion coming closest to the original katakana, read Ji-ta-n, is "Zee-DAHN," like the footballer.
From Aerith and Bob:"...it's actually supposed to be Gitan (pronounced zhee-TAN and transliterated as Jitan), which is French for gypsy. The translators mistook that for the name of a French soccer player."
Once again, Dissidia comes through for us: it's Zih-DAHN in the English dialogue.
Tidus' name is never spoken out loud in Final Fantasy X or Final Fantasy X-2, and it's even inconsistent in Kingdom Hearts. Usually fans just apply their language's own rules for vowels in words (Spanish and Japanese would assume a 'e' sound, English would assume a hard vowel) while others say Meaningful Names should be pronounced based on however the name originally referenced sounds.
It's pronounced and written as TEE-da in Japanese.
Tidus' name is pronounced Tee-dus in the English versions of Kingdom Hearts and Dissidia: Final Fantasy but Tide-us (similar to Titus) in Kingdom Hearts II, as well as some promotional material such as cast interviews. It really depends on whether you are using "tides" (English) or "tida" (varies by source as Okinawan for "sun" or an English->Japanese loanword) as the meaning. It should be noted that Dissidia was released afterKingdom Hearts II, so it seems that Square-Enix corrected themselves and are going with "Tee-dus" as the official pronunciation.
Many names in Final Fantasy XI, especially Zilartian names. Zi'Tah, Kam'lanaut, frickin Pso'Xja come to mind, as well as the name of The Empire in one of the expansions, Aht Urhgan.
Final Fantasy XI related podcasts are painful to listen to for anyone who can actually read names like 'Valkurm' and 'Qufim'.
The Nu Mou race in the Ivalice games. "New mow?" "New moo?" "New moy?"
Pronunciation is given in Final Fantasy XII by Fran (Fran mentions one of their legends in passing at one point). It's pronounced "N'Mow" (there is supposed to be a 'u' sound between the N and the M, but it's almost entirely drowned out by said consonants.
There's also that NPC named Ktjn. Apparently it's pronounced "kitten", though the Japanese say "katreen".
Most of the enemies in the game also have names that aren't pronounced phonetically, at least if one goes by the Japanese readings of their names. For example, the Aerieel enemy looks like it should be pronounced "Air-ree-eel", but it's actually just said like the English word "aerial". Infamous Bonus Boss Yiazmat's name is pronounced "Yaz-mat", not "Yee-az-mat" (Yazumatto in Japanese - the name came from Yasumi Matsuno's nickname of "YAZZ" and the "mat" of his surname).
The Miqo'te race in Final Fantasy XIV. For that matter the female names from the Keepers of the Sun tribe, is the first letter pronounced as is, or part of the name? note Females of the tribe get the first letter of their name from their fathers, with an apostrophe right after. For example, E'Jusana.
Pokémon Battle Revolution brought this up with some fans, as the pronunciations used by the announcer in that are different in several places than the ones used elsewhere - contradicting the anime, previous games with voice acting, and commonly-used pronunciations for those critters not yet in the anime. While generally disregarded (consensus uses the anime pronunciations, even for fans who don't watch the anime), some fans stick with the Battle Revolution pronunciations.
The announcer for Pokemon Stadium wasn't much better - "EEK-ans" as opposed to the accepted "EH-kans" stands out in particular. And is it "Arc-uh-nine" (Anime) or R-K-9 (Stadium)?
It's probably the second, given it's probably supposed to be a pun on "arcane" and "canine".
The anime managed to pronounce Raikou (the Japanese name roughly pronounced as Rye-Koh) as Rye-kuu.
In fact, the name Pokémon has several mispronunciations, as "Pokeymon", "Poke-a-mon", "Pokeyman" to name a few (it's actually "Po-keh-mon" as the accented é is supposed to indicate).
Hey You Pikachu has a nasty Guide Dang It in the form of this with its quiz show where the easy part is naming the Pokemon, yet the hard part is finding the "correct" name to pronounce it. Nidorino comes to mind as a good example because it could potentially be "nihdoh-rihno" or even "nihdoh-reno", but the correct answer is actually "nihdoh-ryno", referencing a rhino.
Most people figured Arceus was pronounced "AR-see-us" (which is supposed by Battle Revolution), but the dub of the movie had "Ar-SAY-us", and Pokemon.com (ostensibly the most "official" source) threw everyone by a loop by stating it's actually "ARK-ee-us".
Well, technically, "Ar-Say-Us" is still considered a correct pronounciation as well. And it is how the name is pronounced in Japanese.
If you want to get fancy, you could say Ar-KAY-us.
Regice is another example. In Lucario and the Mystery of Mew and Pokémon Battle Revolution, it's pronounced "REG-ee-ice", but in the anime it's "REG-ice" (see Ash's last battle v. Pyramid King Brandon). There's never been any official word as to the correct pronunciation, and both are generally accepted by the fandom.
Regice (as with most legendaries) kept its Japanese name, which was written in katakana as Rejiaisu, so the former is more likely.
Ever notice how the announcers for the original Super Smash Bros. and Melee pronounce Pikachu and Jigglypuff as "Pee-kaw-chu" and "Jiggle-ee-puff" while the Pokemon themselves clearly say "Pee-kuh-chu" and "Jigg-lee-puff"? At least Brawl corrected that.
When Pokemon Diamond And Pearl were new, there was a debacle over their cover Legendaries, whose Japanese names were Diaruga and Parukia. It's "di-AH-ru-ga" and "PA-ru-ki-a," but lots of people insisted they were "DEE-a-ROO-ga" and "pa-ROO-ki-a" who then complained when the names were accurately transliterated for the English-language release. This persisted even after "Dialga" and "Palkia" were confirmed to be the intended English spellings for the Japanese versions too.
They weren't the first cover legendaries to have this problem: Suicune was, as can be evidenced by the page quote.
Rayquaza, the mascot of Emerald, has been variously pronounced as "Ray-Quay-Za" and "Ray-Quah-Za" by fans. In this case, looking at the Japanese name doesn't help (the katakana is Rekkūza, pronounced "Reck-koo-za"), but the anime does: it's the former.
The Bug-type Illumise looks like it would be pronounced "Ill-oo-miss", but it's actually "Ee-loo-MEE-zay". Reuniclus has a slight case of this since it's not "Re-oon-ih-clus" but "Re-oo-NEE-clus".
The new Pokedex 3D Pro app for the Nintendo 3DS averts this, as it pronounces the name of any Pokemon as soon as you go to its page, making it much easier to know how to pronounce the name of any Pokemon you desire. It uses "Arc-uh-nine" "Ark-ee-us", "Nee-dor-EEN-a/o", and "Rej-ice" as the pronunciations.
Until Super Smash Bros. came out, the only time Samus Aran's name was spoken was the commercial for Metroid II: The Return of Samus. Those that didn't see the commercial would sometimes use the pronunciation "SAY-mus" instead of the correct "SAH-mus". There is still some confusion over how to pronounce her last name (if the commercial is correct, all the "A"s are pronounced the same). Brawl has Otacon pronounce the surname "Air-ran".
Even then, there's a difference in the syllable emphasis. The Melee announcer pronounces it "Sah-mus," while Metroid Prime 3 and Brawl pronounce it "Sam-is." (Interestingly, in some Midwestern American accents, these are considered the same sound and people cannot tell them apart.) In Japanese, it's written Samusu, which would be pronounced something like "Sam-oos". Her surname is Aran, pronounced "Ah-ran".
Armored Core has a minor one in 4/fA: Is Rayleonard Corp. pronounced Ray-lee-oh-nard or Ray-leh-nerd? US localization favors the former while Japanese pronunciation uses the latter (in Katakana: 「レイレナード」). Seeing that this is taken from a boxer's name, Sugar Ray Leonard, the former may be correct, but since it's combined into one word...
In Kirby, recurring foe King Dedede had this going as well, mostly from confusion of how to pronounce the vowels depending on adaptations. Occasionally his name is written logo style as just DDD.
Lampshaded in Brawl where the audience would appear to get into an argument over how it is pronounced.
GLaDOS from Portal: Is it pronounced like "Gladys"? Is it GLAD-ose? GLAY-dose? Something else entirely? (Turns out, the Audio Commentaries pronounce it three different ways: Gladys, Glad-OSS, and Gla-DOSE, the former of which was spoken by her own voice actress.)
One would assume that it's "glah-DOSS", as the DOS is presumably for "Disk Operating System", which is pronounced as "DOSS"
It's "Gladys" according to Valve. It's also pronounced that way in Poker Night 2.
With eighty-plus people to keep track of, the Ace Attorney series probably has some of this.
This gets especially bad in Apollo Justice, with names like Lamiroir, Klavier Gavin and Machi Tobaye note The last of them, at least, is thankfully directly taken from the Japanese name, which does work as a guide due to the way Japanese writing works. The difficulty of pronouncing the latter's name gets lampshaded when the Judge can't pronounce it.
The 'T' in Godot's name is silent, but it doesn't tell you that.
Also as "Gobo", which should clue those who haven't heard of Waiting for Godot in on the proper pronunciation of "GUD-doh". This hints at his true identity of Diego Armando, Mia's boyfriend mentioned in the first case. Take the last syllable of his first name and the last syllable of his last name, and you get Go-do, or, Godot.
Gradius: "Radius" with a 'g', or what appears to be an Engrish version of "Gladius"? Both pronounciations have been used in-game, though the latter is used more often.
Gradius Gaiden pronounces it both "radius-with-G", and as "Gruh-DEE-us". Gradius V pronounces it with a short "A" as in the word "action" or "lateral".
If it's an Engrish "Gladius", then the "ah" syllable is appropriate. Latin doesn't have a long A sound (Technically, the way we pronounce "radius" is wrong too).
In the MLB Power Pros American releases, the commentator and game announcer will pronounce the player names differently. The announcer is usually correct, but it's difficult to hear him over the commentator. Considering these are real people, it can't be that hard to find the correct pronunciation, but these become frustrating when the player's names are mispronounced at their home stadium.
Characters in Knights of the Old Republic vary on pronouncing Taris as tar-is or tear-is (as in rip or terra, not cry). This gives the planet a double meaning, as it is a once prosperous planet that is currently in decline (i.e., mud or tar)
While some names are obvious, and/or spoken aloud, some of the names, especially the ones from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, were entirely up for debate until the recent rerelease of Re: Chain of Memories, where all the Castle Oblivion Organization members have their names spoken. People who assumed they were pronounced Mar-LUK-sia and ZEX-ee-on were surprised to head them as Mar-LOO-sha, and ZEX-yun. (It is "Zex-ee-on" in Japanese, however.)
Additionally, many expected Xion to be pronounced zee-on or zai-on, as, so far, every Organziation member whose name started with 'x' used the 'z' sound. It was instead she-on, a Meaningful Name in Japanese.
Not to mention Lexaeus whose name is pronounced, apparently, "Lex-ee-us" (though it's "Lex-ay-oos" in Japanese). His real name, Aeleus, is similarly tricky - according to the katakana, it's "El-eh-oos".
The English version of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days has Saďx call Axel by his real name, "Lea", which he pronounces "Lee". Judging by the katakana reading, the correct pronunciation is "Lee-a".
It's confirmed to be pronounced "Lee" in Dream Drop Distance, as even Axel himself uses the pronunciation "Lee", meaning it wasn't a one-off typo, plus, "Lee-a" is feminine, and let's face it, Axel is FAR from feminine.
And then, there's the proper way to say the subtitle 358/2 Days. No, it's not "three hundred fifty eight slash two days". According to the way this subtitle is arranged in Japanese katakana, it's "three five eight days over two". The "three five eight" part is plausible, but how would anyone even get "days over two" out of "/2 Days"?
Larxene's name is meant to be pronounced "Lar-XEE-nuh", according to the katakana (which is Rakushīnu - Japanese DOES have an "n" katakana, so this isn't just approximation), but the English dubs pronounce it Lar-XEEN. Similarly, Saďx is pronounced to rhyme with "psyches" (Saikusu) in Japanese, but "Sigh-ex" in English. Vexen's name is also pronounced "Vixen" in Japanese (Vikusen) and Vex-un in English.
Xigbar's original name is pronounced Brigh-g, not Bray-g (Buraigu in Japanese).
Galatea from Emily Short's Interactive Fiction game of the same title is pronounced "gal-uh-TEE-uh." There has apparently been some confusion over this. Some say gal-uh-TAY-uh or similar variations.
The announcer in various Street Fighter games. A few examples include "Barlog" (rather than Balrog), Abb-ull (Abel) and Dan (his name is supposed to be pronounced "Dahn"). Even characters in the game seem to disagree with a few of his pronunciations. Among the fans, there's also "Rayu" (which carried into the movie and cartoon), "Zan-geef" (instead of Zan-gyeff) among others.
RuneScape has a mahjarrat race and many other words which have disputed pronunciations.
The actual name of the world is "Gielinor" (Gee-lin-or? Gie-lee-nor?), a race of lava people are "Tzhaar" (and anything related to them is equally un-pronounceable, such as one of the strongest monsters: the "Tztok-Jad"), a major city is "Ardougne" (Arr-doong? Arr-doyn?) and one god is named "Armadyl".
Some people joke about "RuneScape" being pronounced "Run Escape" rather than "Rune Scape".
Marisa Kirisame from Touhou. Despite being a western name, it is written in kanji as opposed to katakana, resulting in confusion as to whether it's pronounced "Mah-RIH-sah" as per the English pronunciation or "MAH-ree-sah" as per the Japanese.
English-speaking fans have trouble with some of the characters, especially Keine (Keh-ih-neh), Eirin (Eh-ih-ren), Reisen (Reh-ih-sen) and Sanae (Sah-nah-eh). In one fanfiction, Keine even notes that her family name (Kamishirasawa, which is pronounced exactly as it's spelled) is pronounced correctly more often than her given name.
And then there's China. Until an official pronunciation was settled, her name could be any combination of the Hoan/Hon/Hong Meiling/Mei Ling/Meirin. Her nickname even stemmed from the fact that nobody could read her name, so they all decided to compromise with China.
From the same game, we have Flandre. How is it pronounced? Flahn(like the dessert)-dray? Flahn-durr? Flan-druh?
Maribel's name is just ridiculous. You would expect it to be pronunced as is, but in katakana, it's マエリベリー, or ma-e-ri-be-rii. How this translates to "Maribel" is a mystery. Her friend Renko lampshades this, who has all but given up on trying to pronounce it and just calls her "Mary" instead.
The King of Fighters series gives us K9999, which is pronounced according to SNK as "K Four Nines", not "K Ninety-nine Ninety-nine", "K Nine-Thousand-Nine-Hundred-Ninety-Nine", or "K Nine Nine Nine Nine".
The name of K′ (that's a letter "K" and a prime mark, not an apostrophe) is always pronounced "K Dash" in Japan. In the overseas versions, his name tends to vary between "K Dash" or "K Prime" depending on the game.
Used instory in Tsukihime when Shiki notes that, yea, one way to pronounce SHIKI would be the same as his own name, but it's written differently so it wouldn't be obvious. This doesn't translate well at all, leading to the SHIKI/Shiki thing to actually tell them apart in conversations.
A bit confusing in Fate/stay night, when Shirou complains about how Rider is pronouncing his name because it reminds him of how Saber said it. But... it's spelled the same every time. The difference is apparently Sheer-oh (how Saber mispronounces it) and Sheer-oh-oo (correct version) or something.
They're using a short vowel and getting the pitch pattern wrong. Roughly, they're saying SHI-roh, when the name is more like shi-ROW.
The Legend of Zelda. No one seems to know how to pronounce anything, due to the lack of voice acting.
One of the reason many peoples were quite angry about The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess still not featuring any voice-acting aside from Midna's Simlish. How the hell are we supposed to pronounce names like "Ilia" or "Impaz"? The games before this one also had this problem: Aryll has at least three different pronunications. No matter how hated Navi is, people can't agree if it's NAVV-ee or NAH-vee or NAVV-eye or even Navy.
Fan Dumb even exists regarding the pronunciation of Cucco: Is it "COO-coo" or "COO-koh" or "Cuck-oh"?
Just how DO you pronounce Sahasrahla?
Possibly the hardest name to pronounce: Ooccoo the Oocca. (Ooh-koo? Oh-ko-ah?)
Dekus get this a lot. "Deck-oo" or "Dee-ku"? The latter is closer to the correct pronunciation, "De KOO"
There's also the "Stal" prefix. Skeletal creatures use Stal in their name (Stalfos, Stalchild, Stallord). so is it "Stall" or is it pronounced more like the Stal in Stallion?
The Tula suffix, for the arachnids of hyrule. So is it "Too-la" like the name, or "tulla" as might come naturally when hearing names like "Skulltula" or "Skullwalltula"? The correct pronunciation is actually CHələ or "Chulla", like in Tarantula, where the name is derived from.
Speaking of Hyrule, is it "High Rule" or "Hir ool"? This also carries over to "Hylia". The correct pronunciation is "High rule".
And how about those Kokiris? Ko Kee Rees, or Coker ees?
Ah, Volvagia, once mistranslated as Barba. Vol Vague Eee Uh? Vol Vahg Eee Uh? Vol Vag Eee Uh? None of the above, it's VOL-Vuh-GEE-Uh.
The voice actors in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion couldn't agree on how to pronounce various words and names, such as "daedra" (DAY-dra or DEE-dra) and "Cheydinhal" (hard or soft "ch").
Word Of God has given definitive ways of pronouncing the name of each race. Unfortunately, nobody told the voice actors or directors.
Here it is. No one seems to stick to these, of course. "DEE-dra" should be the canonical pronunciation, and then there's stuff that's totally thrown out the window like "doon-MARE" for "Dunmer", "DWAY-mare" for "Dwemer", and "BOE-mare" for "Bosmer". These usually get pronounced "DUHN-muhr", "DWEE-muhr", and "BAHZ-muhr".
May be a bit of Fridge Brilliance, considering that the probability of a dozen races having the same pronunciation for such words is astronomical.
"WAHR-ee-oh" or "WOAR-ee-oh"? Wario's voice actor in the Super Mario Land series commercials and in Mario Kart 64 uses the former.
Waluigi himself apparently can't determine the pronunciation of his name's first syllable; both "WAH" and "WAA" pop up in his voice clips. But "WAH" is the most likely correct one as Waluigi uses the Wah sound, and his name is just Mario with an upside down M. Learn to pronounce that right though.
Kamek. No one's quite sure how the vowels in his name are pronounced. The most common pronunciations seem to be "Kah-meck", "KAY-meck", and "Kam-ick", but there doesn't appear to be any official pronunciation.
To a certain extent, Lakitu can be hard to pronounce. "Lock-ee-too"? "Lah-key-too"? Turns out it's "Lack-ee-too".
Suikoden Tierkreis does this one weird. Pronounciations in voiced dialogue are consistent, but it quickly becomes apparent that they're based off of different romanizations than what ended up in the text. So you have thing like Rizwan being pronounced with an L sound in place of the R and the W, Sisuca like the first two syllables of "shishkabob", and Kureyah being pronounced as Claire.
And how the heck is Schala supposed to be pronounced?
I always pronounced it like the similarly spelled bread.
From Sonic 3 And Knuckles, there is Hydrocity Zone. Is it pronounced as a compound word or does it rhyme with "velocity"?
It's most likely "hydro city", as in a city of water. The kana used in the Japanese manuals are "ハイドロシチー" - Haidoroshichii - or, simply "Hydro-city". A velocity pun would instead read: ハイドラシチー (Haidorashichii)
The recent GP2X Caanoo handheld is an especially confusing entrant: Is it pronounced like 'Canoe', or based on a Korean pronounciation guide? Even so, what pronounciation would it take from that?
In Tomb Raider, scion is pronounced "ski on" although the general Anglophone pronunciation is "sigh on".
With NPCs like Ruairi, Heulfryn, Neamhain, and Nuadha; places like Sidhe Sneachta, Tir Chonaill, Taillteann, and Courcle; and monsters like Glas Ghaibhleann and Claimh Solas, the MMORPG Mabinogi can be frustrating to talk about without an extensive understanding of old Irish.
Legacy of Kain: Many of the location names are faux-German so, at first glance, names such as Uschtenheim, Ziegsturhl, Vasserbünde, and Steinchencröe can be a little daunting. And then there's Janos, whose name is actually Slavic and is pronounced YAW-nos in the game (in reality, the name Janos is often pronounced YAW-nosh).
There also seems to be some confusion about Raziel's name. Raziel pronounces his name raz-EYE-el, Kain and the Elder God call him Rah-ZEE-el, and Janos (justified seeing as he has a pretty thick accent) pronounces his name as RAHZ-yuhl. The pronunciation of everyone else's names stays relatively consistent.
Happens sometimes in sports games. For example, EA NHL '07 would pronounce Stajan (correct pronunciation: "Stay Gin") as "stay an". The next game would fix the pronunciation for some situations but leave it broken for others.
In the Star Control series, the alien races have some very peculiar names. Since the release of "The Ur-Quan Masters", which includes voice acting for all the dialog, there is at least a semi-canonical pronunciations. But since the remastered version came out 10 years after the original Star Control II, not all fans readily accept these pronunciations. There's the Chenjesu (pronounced chen-JESSU in UQM or chen-GEE-su), Yehat (YAY-hat in UQM, YEE-hat by others and ye-HOT by Star Control 3), Umgah (OOM-gah or UMM-guh), Mmrnmhrm (MUR-na-hurm), Gg (geg in UQM or just sounding out the letter G), Taalo (tallow or ta-AY-lo) and *Nnngn* (pronounced like it looks in UQM and remains the same in Star Control 3, but more like an angry groan).
It's not specific to any one game, but the Claíomh Solais is a sword that shows up a lot and confuses the hell out of anyone who doesn't speak Irish Gaelic. The correct pronunciation apparently is something like "Clive" (rhymes with five) "sul-LEESH".
Also, Cú Chulainn. The katakana in Final Fantasy XII has it as "Koo kyoo-lane", though the name is usually pronounced "Koo hoo-leen" in Japanese. "Koo KUL-lun" (like saying "Cue Cullen" but with "koo" instead of "kyoo") is used in two songs, "The Sick Bed of Cú Chulainn" by The Pogues and "Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend" by Thin Lizzy. And the pronunciation guide on Wikipedia says "Koo hul-LUN".
The indy platforming game VVVVVV. Seriously, it's the letter V six times. How are you supposed to pronounce that? Well, there's several different ways. One is exactly like that: "the letter V six times," which is used in the URL for the home site (www.thelettervsixtim.es); the developer and the composer pronounce it "Vee"; many other people pronounce "Vee" an arbitrary number of times; and there are even people who pronounce it literally: a very long V sound with no vowel.
Since Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter was released three months before Attack of the Clones, not all details were provided to Lucasarts, leading to the pronunciation of Count Dooku's name as "doh-koo".
In Dragon Age: Origins, Zevran pronounces his name 'zev-RAHN'. No one else does. Same with Leliana ('LEL-i-anna'), pronounced 'lelli-AHNA' by most other characters.
Qara in Neverwinter Nights 2. Most characters pronounce it "kwar-uh", but some say it as "kar-uh". The second, less popular pronunciation is technically the correct one if you go by English pronunciation rules.
Castlevania gets a few. In addition to the Claimh Solais example mentioned above, we have Alucard, which in the original Dub is pronounced "Al-oo-card". More recent dubs flip flop between that and "Al-you-card." They can both be correct, it depends on whether you pronounce it as it is written, or pronounce it as Dracula backwards. Though that has it's own set of problems. (refer to literature)
Maria Renard. Maria isn't a problem. Lenard is. "Re Nahrd"? "Ren erd"? The original japanese has it something like "Learned", which may be a reference to learning magic, but it doesn't help as far as the dub goes. There is a clue to the former though, with the character Eric Lecard (another Dub Name Change, the original was Eric Ricardo), who is strongly hinted to be [[spoilers: Alucard and Maria's descendant. His last name is a portmanteau of "Renard" and "Alucard."
Then there's Juste Belmont, which has been suggested as "Just", "Joost", "Justay", etc. The actual pronuncation of the name is actually "Yoost." No clue on how to pronounce the last name of his rival Maxim Kischine, however.
Some of the enemies too. Gaibon. "Guy Bawn" or "Gay Bin"? Dhuron appears to have this problem, but it's simply a mistranslation of Dullahan, which averts it.
The pronunciation of Yang's name was changed between the Japanese and English versions of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition. In Japan, his name is written as ｢ヤン｣, which rhymes with "fun" and "son". In turn, it's based off of how the name is pronounced in Chinese, which sounds like "young" (just like Yang from Final Fantasy IV, listed further up in the Final Fantasy entries). Listen to the way the announcer says it here. However, Yang's name rhymes with the word "sang" in the English version, which is incorrect.
This problem also arises with video game publisher Ubisoft, which is either pronounced YOU-bee-soft or OOH-bee-soft.
The horror/platformer flash game Gyossait. Your guess is as good as mine.
Per a comment from the game's creator in the trailer, it's apparently pronounced "gi-yo-zite".
Happens with consoles as well. There appears to be a generational divide in the pronunciations of NES and SNES — older gamers who played the systems when they were new favor the "each letter individually" renditions, en ee ess and ess en ee ess, while younger gamers playing them as retro consoles favor the one-word renditions "ness" and "sness". Nintendo itself used en ee ess and soo per enn ee ess. Then you have those who just say "Nintendo" and "Super Nintendo".
Tower of God has this problem as well in the english speaking fandom. Especially with the pronunciation of Lahel/Rachel, Headon and Zahard/Jahad. As one can see, Spell My Name with an S applies as well, due to the Korean alphabet having several romanizations.
The demon K'Z'K from Sluggy Freelance. All we know is that, if you don't want your soul devoured, do not pronounce it "Kizke."
Absolutely no vowels of any sort. The obvious guess would be that you pronounce k, then z, then k, either with or without stops in between. Oh, and he will devour your soul anyway.
Eikre from RPG World was named by literally randomly hitting keys, as a parody of unpronounceable names. Whenever he was asked (via chat/email) how it was pronounced, he always just typed out "It's pronounced 'Eikre'"
Dan Shive has gotten enough of a message on how pronounce the Japanese names of some of his characters that he explains them in the FAQ. Fans were still mostly left in the air on how to pronounce "Sciuridae" until this strip provided the unlikely "Skwur-uh-dey".
This is slightly bizarre as Sciuridae (See-ur-uh-die or See-ur-uh-dee) is the scientific family for true squirrels, and they could have easily just looked it up.
Lampshaded: only a few strips after giving the pronunciation, the school's principal goes by the scientific name and is corrected.
SPRINGIETTE has given many people the headache of not knowing how to say it right. Turns out there isn't really a correct way.
Several of the Homestuck trolls, though not all of them. Their names are based on names or words from mythology and non-Western cultures, meaning that there usually is a correct pronunciation but you can't count on the fans being aware of it. Feferi gets the worst of it. Terezi too, whose name can be pronounced in at least five different ways depending on what you do with the vowels. According to the user who suggested her name, the correct pronunciation is "ter-REE-see" (similar to "Theresa" or, appropriately enough, "Tiresias"). Pretty much no one else says it that way.
There's also "uh-RAY-dee-uh" vs "uh-RAH-dee-uh" for Aradia (to complicate matters even further, Word Of God is that it's "uh-RAD-ee-uh",which is actually rather rarely used among fans), and the 398257289375 different pronunciations of Calliope. Despite the fact that Calliope is an actual figure from Classical Mythologynote pronounced "kuh-LIE-oh-pee", for anyone curious. And a relatively non-obscure one, at that.
Drowtales, being about elves, involves a lot of long names. Listening to the animations shows there is no consistent pronunciation. Ariel isn't even pronounced quite consistently, and it's never pronounced AIR-ee-ull, which is the only way I've heard the real name pronounced.
Gunnerkrigg Court has Ysengrin. Word Of God says it's "Is-en-grin," but it's more often interpreted as "Yiss-en-grin" or some other phonetic thing, since the correct pronunciation isn't easy to find.
In one of the Fuck-Up videos, he talks about his frequent difficulty pronouncing characters' names, saying that there are probably too many examples to list. Proof that even when you have the movie itself as a pronunciation guide, you can't always get things right.
This is the case with Ren of Ren and Stimpy, whose last name is "Hoek". Stimpy and other characters will usually pronounce it as "Ho-eck", but it has been pronounced on the show as that, "Ho-ack" and "Hork".
Alfe in The Problem Solverz. The name is two syllables, pronounced "Al-fay", and all of the characters in the show pronounce it that way. However, in writing, especially to those unfamiliar with the show, the name looks like it should be pronounced like "Alfie" or just "Alf".
In the Hungarian dubbing of The Spectacular Spider Man, Ricochet is constantly referred to as "Ricochette", with "ch" as in "chicken" and an audible "t" at the end.
Transformers Prime's dub, in the same language, has some difficulty keeping the names straight. Ratchet is "Wretch-eat", Soundwave became "Ssaahnd-wave", Bulkhead is "Baalk-hed", Bumblebee is "Bahm-boel-bee", and Cliffjumper is either "Klif(f)-jahm-pehr" or "Klif(f)-jum-purr".
As evidenced by the awkward way Unicron's name is spoken — "Youh-nick-ron", as opposed to the way it's been pronounced evreywhere else: "Oo-nick-ron" — maybe there is a guide that tries to provide phonetic pronunciations, but is bad at it. Note that other dubs almost always translated the names, so the actors would be used to saying those, not their English originals.
These are just mildly annoying, and only Prime's and Megatron's actors seem to have trouble with the names — Megs even mispronounced Laserbeak as Laserback, who's actually a different character. Smokescreen saying "construction" instead of Conctructicon is another legitimate blooper.
Rainbow Dash, yet again the Hungarian one, keeps pronouncing Thunderbolts as "Thann-der-baltz". The character itself can either be correctly "Dash" or "Dessh".
According to the Goofy short The Art of Skiing, the correct pronunciation of "skiing" is "sheeing."
And especially those written with abjad alphabet (consonants-only alphabet), such as Hebrew or Arabic. The reader must supply the vowels by him/herself.
Bookworms often have that problem; they know how to read and have learned how to sound out certain words, but if they come upon a new word they might not know exactly how to pronounce it, or which syllable to stress.
The same but more goes for non-native speakers of English who get most of their linguistic input through reading (or, as for this troper, this very site). Now add that to the mess that is English spelling.
The Dachshund dog breed. Sure, if you know German, it's easy as hell ('dokhs-hoont' it is), but you still hear "dash-hound"/ "dawk-suhnd" a lot.
Actually, it’s “ducks-hoont.”
Keeshonden is much more commonly mispronounced. It is sually said to be "keesh-hound", but, technically, it's something close to "kays-hund".
About Dachshund. To further complicate matters, the Scandinavian languages (which are Germanic in origin), pronounces it "Dahks-hunn", the "U" being a bit different-sounding than in German.
In a similar vein to the above, Xoloitzcuintles have their breed name mispronounced constantly.
It's SHOW-low-eats-QUEEN-lee by the way, and people usually have more trouble spelling it than saying it.
Demi Moore's name was generally pronounced "demmy" for a while before she made it clear it was meant to be "d'mee". A surprisingly large number of people regarded this as an absurd pretension along the lines of Marias who insist on "ma-rye-ah" or Alices who insist on "a-lease", despite the fact that this is pretty much the only time anyone has ever heard this name
"Ma-rye-ah" is the older pronunciation of the name in English. "Ma-ree-ah" is the Spanish and Italian version which has only recently taken over the English-speaking world, as well, with the former version only being used nowadays when there's an "h" on the end of the name, such as Mariah Carey.
The name of the Rothschild international banking family is pronounced by most English speakers with the "s" as part of the first syllable thus sounding like "Roth's Child", but the "s" is actually part of the second syllable and thus should be pronounced more along the lines of "Rote shillt" or 'rot schild'. This is because the name is German in origin and means "red shield".
There are far too many people who pronounce "Adobe" as Uh-Doeb. Some even go as far as to make fun of the people who pronounce it correctly! (PS: correct pronunciation = "ah-D'OH-bee.")
Inversion; The correct Korean pronounciation of "Hyundai" is something like Hyun Die; most American pronounce it "Hun Day" because the company's U.S. division always has, the automotive divison going as far as putting "rhymes with Sunday" in its early print ads. British/Irish advertisements (and, consequently, motorists) use the more accurate (but still wrong) "hie-UN-die". And Australians pronounce it "hee-UN-day", a weird mixture of the American and British versions. Go figure. ("Hun-Die" (very no "y") has been spotted in the southern US, but this is probably just a complete misreading of the name. )
The real (i.e. korean) pronunciation of Hyundai (in the transliteration system currently favored by the korean government it is spelled "hyeondae") is actually closer to the common way of pronouncing it in the US than "Hyun Die". While "hyun" (being a single syllable) is a somewhat accurate representation of the korean pronunciation using english orthography, "die" is blatantly wrong. Since most anglophones seem utterly incapable of pronouncing a long "e" sound (not the english "e" but roughly like a longer version of the "e" in "bend") without corrupting it into a diphthong (the "ay" in "day") if a syllable ends with the vowel "e" in many foreign languages, "hyunday" is really the closest the vast majority of monoglot anglophones are going to get to the original pronunciation. In summary, if you want to be as faithful as possible to the korean pronunciation, "hyunday" (two syllables) really is your best shot.
Maya Rudolph had an SNL character that stretched it out into four syllables: high-YON-die-yay.
"Hün-die" and "Hyoon-die" have both been present in Finnish TV commercials.
And another car company, Porsche ('porsh-uh'). It is not pronounced 'Porsh', people.
The "porsh" pronunciation has become fairly standard in the English-speaking world, to the extent that anyone who pronounces it correctly risks being labelled snobby or wrong.
And then there's Jaguar where some Americans insist on pronouncing it Jag Wire, instead of Jagwarr.
Which gets more complicated since it's a British auto maker and the British pronunciation is Jag-u-war, meanwhile the word itself is Tupi and can be Haguar or Yaguar.
Australians pronounce auto maker Nissan as "NISS'n" and Britons as "Niss-an". Americans come far closer to the original Japanese with "NEE-sahn".
Shampoo company Pantene is "Pan-ten" in Britain, an anglicisation of the original French pronunciation, but, in America it's "Pan-teen".
And in Scandinavia, Germany, Spain, Italy and Portugal it is "Pan-tehn-uh" with the final 'e' pronounced.
There are not a lot of silent E's in German: Anne Frank's first name has two syllables. ("ann-uh")
Isaac Asimov's name has presented innumerable difficulty to science fiction fans, both trying to remember how to spell it and trying to figure out how to pronounce it. (This includes his first name, which frequently comes up as "Issac", despite being relatively common.) Notable example: Joel Robinson never manages to pronounce Asimov correctly (or even fluently) when the Good Doctor is mentioned in early episodes of MST3K. Which may be one reason why they eventually dropped the Asimov jokes.
Isaac Asimov himself devoted an entire editorial in his magazine to the proper pronounciation and spelling of his name.
An interesting fact is that in Russia, his translated works spell his name differently than the original Russian to reflect the pronunciation he himself used. They are willing to bastardize their own language to show respect to the author.
To clarify, the usual English pronunciation has the stress on the first syllable; in Russian, (Озимов) it's on the second, so a-ZEE-muf.
A similar thing happens in translations of Chuck Palahniuk's works into Russian and Ukrainian. They spell his last name "Паланик" (Palanik) and "Поланiк" (Polanik) respectively, even though the original spelling in both languages is "Палагнюк".
Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series. It is so bad that the first question he is usually asked in interviews is how to pronounce it.
"It's pronounced 'Owen', so stop making that noise like a car wooshing past you at the Grand Prix." - Neil Gaiman
Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh. Not "doo-KEZ-nee", but "doo-KANE".
Which is almost the exact opposite problem fans of the film of The Shawshank Redemption have when reading the original novella: seeing main character Andy's last name, pronounced "doo-FRAIN", spelled as "Dufresne".
Though the vowel sound "u" doesn't sound anything at all like the english "oo" in french.
Considering all the harm done to languages in Western Pennsylvania (Versailles pronounced ver-SALES; Buena Vista receiving the nickname BYOO-nee), it's actually surprising that Duquesne is actually pronounced correctly.
From the early days of the internet through to the present: GIFs, the old standard for indexed color stills and animated graphics. Do you say it with a hard "G" as in "graphics", or a soft one, as in "jiffy". As this one was used in text as an acronym far more than it was spoken, its usage was codified long before its pronunciation.
Hard G - JIFF/JIF is another image format based on JPEG, and "jif" is also short for "jiffy", which is an amount of time. Not to mention that G stands for "graphic" so the acronym should also have a hard G.
Soft G - On the flip side, the original developers of GIF pronounced it "jif", often saying "choosy developers choose GIF." And the same argument can be made for JPEG; The P stands for "Photographic" which means it should be pronounced "jay-fegg."
It's weird to hear "PNG" pronounced as anything other than "pee-en-gee", but the official pronunciation is "ping". Not to be confused with the network diagnostic tool, but it's hard to imagine any situation in which that confusion would arise in practice.
The prefix "giga-" is always pronounced with a hard G today, but, at one point, (when consumer technology was not yet sufficiently advanced for it to be in the lexicon of the average person) it could alternatively be pronounced with a soft "g". Back to the Future famously uses this pronunciation when referring to "1.21 jigawatts".
That's actually the pronunciation used by a physicist that Robert Zemeckis consulted.
Also from the internet: is it Ludicrous Gibs as in "giblets", or "gibbons"?
Gib is short for giblet; this pronunciation is used in the tutorial level for the original Unreal Tournament.
Rene Auberjonois' name is so frequently reduced to hash that part of his convention shtick involves tutoring fans on how to pronounce it. For the record, it's a French pronunciation with emphasis on the second syllable: "aw-BEAR-zhon-wa".
Approximately, "Suv-reh-MEN-niy". The final y actually stands for two sounds, the first being a hard "i" which does not exist in most dialects of English, and the second like the y in "may". Since the hard i is also transliterated as "y", such words are most commonly transliterated with just one y, instead of "iy".
Vic Mignogna. It's "min-yon-uh," for the record, but you'd never guess that if you've only seen his name in credits.
As Vic himself once put it, "Sort of like 'tomorrow' in Spanish." (Mańana)
"Lingerie" is almost universally pronounced ("lahn-zhuh-RAY") in the English-speaking world. "Lan-zhe-REE" (first syllable rhyming with "can") is about as close as an anglicisation is going to get, but most people pronounce the first syllable with a long "ah", with some going on to pronounce the third as "ray" with emphasis.
Lengery rhyming with revengery (if that were a word) would work, too.
Pasta magnate Ettore Boiardi averted this trope with his canned products, by spelling his name phonetically as "Boyardee" on the packaging.
Honda. Most people say "Hon-duh" when, since it's a Japanese company with a Japanese name, it's more like "Hohn-Dah"
Honda's own marketing division pronounces it the way "most people" do, so at this point you may as well concede that they're right. Sort of like how another Japanese automaker decided that "Mazda" would be an awful lot easier than "Matsuda".
Meshell Ndegeocello. Born Michelle Johnson. It doesn't help that she's changed her name and its spelling several times; on her first major label album, she included instructions on just how to pronounce it (Mee-shell N-deh-gay-o-chel-o).
Vincent Van Gogh: IPA [fan χoχ]. The "g" and "gh" are exactly the same, a rough guttural. The "o" is short, like in "lot". The "a" in "van" sounds like the "a" in "dawn", only a bit shorter. And the "v" is a bit sharp, sounding closer to an "f" sound, but still voiced. Incidentally, it's a lower case "v" (Except when the first name is left out - it's "Vincent van Gogh" - lowercase v, but "Mr. Van Gogh" - capital V). Oh, and the "e" in "Vincent" is not a schwa, but sounds like the first "e" in "letter".
"Meme" is pronounced as one syllable, "meem", by the inventor of the word and concept Richard Dawkins. Yet many advocate a Japanese-influenced two-syllable pronunciation of "me me", "may may", or other variants.
Or the same as French męme which happens to mean "same".
Incidentally, the word is supposed to rhyme with "gene", since the definition of "meme" is a "cultural gene".
Cambridge, the University city in Cambridgeshire, is pronounced "came bridge". Cambridge, the village in Gloucestershire, is pronounced "cam bridge". And Gloucestershire is pronounced "GLOS-ter-sheer".
When the river in question is within the state of Arkansas it is pronounced the "ar-kan-saw" river. When the river in question is within the state of Kansas, it is pronounced the "ar-kansas" river.
The UNIX editor vi is not pronounced as "vye", but "vee".
The entire Hungarian language. You ever tried studying it? It has 14 vowels, with only very subtle differences between many of them. Even with a native speaker helping out, it's very hard to get it right.
Dutch has more vowel sounds than that, including several that don't exist in other languages (don't even try pronouncing the "ui" or the "ij". You'll fail note If you still want to try, though, a good place to start for ij is a sound between sane and sign. For ui, you can say the a in cat and then follow it up with the sound of ü in German or u in French ).
Almonds. The L was originally silent and thus the word pronounced "ah-munds."
Al-Qaida. In the US, it seems, it's usually pronounced "Al KYE-duh" (second syllable rhyming with "dye"). In Britain, the media usually pronounces it "Al Kah-EE-duh." Just don't say "al-kayder". Please.
The American pronunciation is closer. Arabic names in general tend to be awful for English speakers, since they contain many sounds that don't exist in English, such as the q in "Iraq" or the h in Muhammad (like an English h, but more from the throat - and definitely not like a German ch). Another tough one is the name of Muammar al-Qaddafi/Gaddafi, which nobody seems to be sure how to spell it either (both are acceptable).
One guest on Mock the Week referred to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "Where's me dinner Dad" presumably because he couldn't pronounce the actual name.
In the American media, "I'm a dinner jacket" has been used. The pronunciation is really something along the lines of "ACH-mah-din-uh-jad".
Do not expect any non-scientists (or even some scientists) to pronounce the Latin-derivednote Though these days Greek and indigenous languages are used much more often scientific names of organisms correctly. One of the worst cases is probably Troodon, which almost everybody pronounces "TRUE-don" instead of "TROW-uh-don" which is correct.note Originally, it was spelled "Troödon," with a diaeresis, which indicates that the vowels are pronounced separately. Unless one mistakes it for an umlaut.
It doesn't help that there really isn't a one true way to pronounce Latin, as, historically, all countries that used it as a scholarly language ended up using it slightly differently, bending the pronounciation to fit their own language better.
Also Nqwebasaurus note the "nq" is actually a click, and the "weba" is pronounced "WAY-ba", not "weh-ba" and Piatnitzkysaurus.
Anything in Irish, especially from Irish folktales, unless you actually happen to speak Gaelic. For instance, the word "Cúailnge" (as in Táin Bó Cúailnge) is pronounced "Cooley". "Cú Chulainn" has about five different pronunciations, at least three of which are all from Irish people. And that's not even getting into Irish names, such as Ó Súilleabháin (O'Sullivan), Niamh (Nee-uv) and Siobhán (Shuh-VAWN).
The Vietnamese alphabet has been around for more than 300 years and changed very little, not to mention all the peculiar rules that have been there from the beginning, so beware of Vietnamese words and names - they might not be what they look like.
But since most people don't know that, we get places like Pho King.
Houston Street in New York City, is not pronounced like the city in Texas, but is pronounced "HOW-ston" instead.
Just like how Rodeo Drive is pronounced Ro-DAY-o Drive and not Ro-DEE-o Drive. Being Texan I must say, it's bit annoying how we say a lot of word differently from all the other states.
The Texan accent plays hell on names that originate in Mexico (of which there are many, since it was first a Mexican settlement). The river Guadalupe is often given a long 'u' and silent 'e', for instance, and in Austin there is a road called Manchaca which is locally pronounced 'man-shack', with residents rolling their eyes at the idiocy of anyone who tries to say it phonetically.
Houston County, Georgia is also pronounced "HOW-ston". Georgia also has Vienna (Vye-inna), Cairo (Kay-row), Omega (O-me-guh), and Albany (All-benny).
Americans tend to emphasize the last syllable in names ending with "-ham". Brits are always amused to hear Americans talking about "BuckingHAYum Palace", when the native pronunciation is more like "Bucking'm".
English places ending with "-bury" have the same issue. Many an American musician has announced how excited they are to be playing GlastonBERRY festival to stifled laughs from the crowd. The local pronunciation is more like Glaston-bree.
Sir Edmund Halley of comet fame is sometimes pronounced "Hayley" (hence Bill Hayley and his Comets), but nowadays you're more likely to find fellow scientists insisting that it's supposed to rhyme with "galley". A few diehards, however, insist that it's actually "Hawley".
And those diehards would only be partially right. Halley lived more than 300 years ago, so his name would have been pronounced as roughly "Hawley" in his lifetime, but the English language has changed enough since then that the pronunciation rhyming with "galley" is now correct. Unless they want to pronounce his first name as "Edmoond", they are wrong.
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania (best known for its namesake, Bryn Mawr College), pronounced "brin mar". The original Welsh pronunciation is more similar to "brin mowr".
Other Welsh-derived town names in the area include Tredyffrin (TruhDIFFrihn), and Bala Cynwyd (Bahla KINwood).
The Welsh language in general often seems to have been deliberately designed with the aim of confusing the English, as a Take That for Edward I's conquest.
All Celtic languages are very good at this - Irish, already mentioned above, has gems like an bhfaighfidh mé (pronounced much like "wee") or tá a fhios agam (which comes out as "taws-ahm"). The orthography employs many letter combinations that take time getting used to, such as BH/MH/BHF for the "w" sound or AO for "ee", not to mention the load of silent letters that used to be pronounced up to Middle Irish but have been dropped since, often creating diphthongs in the process - for example, "trouser" was borrowed into Irish, where it is spelled treabhsar, since the "ow" diphthong is rendered by the combination abh.
Almost anything from pre-1500s America, including Tlaloc, Quetzalcoatl, Huitzilopochtli, Nezhualcoyotl, Twantinsuyu, and any other name of a Native American god
I see your Huitzilopochtli and I raise you a Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli ("tlahuizcalli" = dawn, "pan" = in, "tecuhtli" = lord), so "Lord in Dawn").
Almost any Mesoamerican name, for that matter.
Oaxaca, anyone?note It's "Wha-HA-ka".
The English town of Southwell has people (even locals) disagreeing over whether it should be pronounced "South-Well" or "Suth-ell", with people claiming that the one they don't use is posh. Apparently (according to a local radio feature on pronunciation) even the BBC doesn't have an "official" answer and tells presenters to use whichever version they would usually.
Washington State has several cities and towns with names that are either Native American words or derived from such. Two of the more irritating ones are the city of Puyallup and Sequim. People from out of state tend to pronounce them "poo-YAA-lup" and "see-kwim" (think "sequin"). They're really pronounced "pyu-AH-lup" and "skwim."
The acronym UFO, short for Unidentified Flying Object, was coined by USAF Captain Edward Ruppelt. He himself pronounced it you-foe, but it is now widely pronounced as separate letters.
The English town of Shrewsbury is notorious for disagreement over whether it should be pronounced as spelt, or as "Shrovesbury". So notorious, in fact, that whenever the town is mentioned on radio or TV, this is almost guaranteed to be the first thing that gets brought up. On the whole, the locals don't actually care.
This is also true of Pontefract (traditionally 'Pumfrit', a bastardisation of the original French pronunciation, nowadays more commonly 'Pon-te-fract') and Cirencester (traditionally 'Sissister' nowadays more commonly 'Sirensester').
The chef Heston Blumenthal pronounces his own name with "th" taking its usual English value (like in "menthol"), but most other people affect a Germanic pronunciation - even the narrators of Heston's own documentaries (when he isn't doing his own voiceovers).
Many Hebrew names can lead to this, so many editions of the King James Bible spell the names out phonetically, with the syllables separated by hyphens. This is often referenced by parodies written In The Style Of the KJV, such as Private Eye`s take on contemporary news from the Middle East:
"And lo, Shar-on journeyeth into the land of Us, to the House that is White, there to meet with the King of Us, which is called Dub-ya."
Bosnian neatly avoids this by having everything spelled as it is pronounced, e.g. Paul McCartney would be Pol Mekartni. (Warning: Do not try to back-spell into original language. Results in phonetic equivalent of "Blind Idiot" Translation.) This is often ignored nowadays for languages that are well understood by the populace, mostly German and English.
As for foreigners pronouncing Bosnian words and names, a couple basic rules: The sound English speaking folks recognize as "J" is written as "Dž" or if softer "Đ" in Bosnian, "Ž" is the "J" in French (as in Jacques,) the Bosnian "J" is pronounced as "Y", Š = Sch, Č = Ch, Ć = Ch (soft), "C" is always pronounced as "C" - never as "K", "Lj" and "Nj" are separate letters and pronounced as very soft "Ly" and "Ny" (they are a common feature of Bosnian baby speak.) The vowels are never pronounced as you think and you're probably accenting them too much- also there are preciously few around for English/American ears. One more thing, "*cough*" and "*spit*" are not letters of the Bosnian alphabet- no matter what many foreigners seem to think.
Saoirse Ronan. Poor girl probably had to constantly correct people on the pronunciation of her first name her whole life. It's pronounced 'Sur-sha'.
Chinese Characters. To be fair, most characters follow a standard part x next to part y formula, where the character relates to x in meaning and is pronounced something like y, but this doesn't apply to all characters, and there's no way to tell if a character is working on this system, or which part is phonetic. To make matters worse, a character formed this way used in Japanese, for example, using native pronounciation and not borrowing the pronounciation directly from chinese, will not be pronounced the way the phonetic component would have you believe, making it look entirely like an arbitrary, nonphonetic symbol.
Nearly all Japanese words that have been added to the English language are mispronounced. The most common offender is to use the wrong vowel sound for trailing "e"s. "Karate" ("ka-rah-teh") and "sake" ("sa-keh"), for example. Karaoke is one of the worst offenders; it should be "ka-rah-oh-keh." A good rule of thumb is to think of all "e"s as having an accent on them, especially if it's a trailing "e". "Karaté," "saké," "karaoké," etc.
Nobody seems to be sure if the fossa's name is pronounced 'foosa' (as seen in the film Madagascar), or with a short 'o' like how it's spelled.
Many people are caught off guard by Ralph Fiennes (probably best known as Lord Voldemort or Amon Goeth) as, despite appearing to be spoken close to "Ralf Fee-nez", it's actually pronounced "Ray-f Fines".
Missouri residents remain bitterly divided over whether their state's name should end in an "ee" sound or an "uh" sound. Dave Barry Slept Here jokingly refers to this division as the Missouri Compromise, though unlike the actual Missouri Compromise there is no clear dividing line.
Greenlandic is infamous for this. To someone who has never seen the language before something like "Inuit tamarmik inunngorput nammineersinnaassuseqarlutik assigiimmillu ataqqinassuseqarlutillu pisinnaatitaaffeqarlutik" doesn't even look like a real sentence. God forbid if you're non Greenlandic and you actually have to say it.
* There was the little girl of perhaps ten or eleven, on a Saturday morning zoo show on British TV, who was innocent of the subtleties of French pronunciation. Given a link to do concerning the afternoon's sporting attractions, she read off the autocue
And this afternoon at two, we go to Murray Walker who will commentate on the Grand Pricks of South Africa..
(Producer) I think you'll find it's pronounced "Grond Pree"...
(Little Girl, after a second's consideration) Well, it says "Grand Pricks" here!
Foreign diplomatic families assigned to Moscow found the Cyrillic alphabet confusing. Seeing the Russian word for "resturant" written down as PECTOPAH, there was a distinct tendency to pronounce it as though it were in the Latin alphabet. This became a running joke at the British Embassy: "What time does the pectopah open? Which pectopah shall we dine at tonight?" et c.
Professional golfer Louis Oosthuizen once did a commercial for Ping clubs that lampshaded how people can't get his quirky Afrikaans surname correct. ("It's 'UIST-hay-zen', by the way.") A year later, he's asked about this by a Golf Channel reporter and gives a different pronounciation, closer to 'Ust-hyezen'. In general, if you're not fluent in Dutch or Afrikaans and you pronounce it 'Ust-hayzen' or 'Oost-hayzen' everyone will know who you mean.
The city of Cairo is pronounced like "Ky-row", different from how it looks. Unless you're talking about the one in Illinois, where the locals say "Kay-row".
Native Maine residents refer to the city of Bangor as "Bang-gore" despite everyone outside of the state (including in Wales where the name originated) referring to it as "Bang-er". There's also the town of Calais, pronounced exactly the way it's spelt ... in English. Cal-is.