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Thread: Why are so many fantasy names hard to pronounce?

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    Why are so many fantasy names hard to pronounce?

    I've read my fair share of fantasy and horror. Why do you think so many fantasy names are purposely designed to be hard to pronounce? Lots of weird diphtongues and odd concatinations. Often creatively used hyphens. I did a quick googling and I didn't find any grand theory commonly accepted.

    I know glosolalia (speaking in tongues) has been studied, and that's similarly hard to pronounce sounds and words. In glosolalia's case it's sounds in languages a person is regularly exposed to but which they don't speak. But that still doesn't answer why? Is it just because of the mystery? We know these foreign words mean something which we don't understand and that makes us anxious? Curious?

    H.P. Lovecraft has explained his reasoning behind the names he picked. It's sounds he thought sounded terrifying. But he was a rabid racist. So that strengthens the, "it just sounds foreign"-theory. For him anything sounding English was good, and anything sounding foreign was pure primal evil.

    What's your theory?

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    the baby-eater
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    Law of Alien Names
    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.p...awOfAlienNames

    Some other trope pages give clues as well, but the rule is basically to use sounds and combinations that are either uncommon or never found in English. So basically, "it just sounds foreign".

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfield View Post
    Law of Alien Names
    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.p...awOfAlienNames

    Some other trope pages give clues as well, but the rule is basically to use sounds and combinations that are either uncommon or never found in English. So basically, "it just sounds foreign".
    It's too simple I think. It's not just that they aren't found in English. They are often found in other languages. One example is that in Warhammer the Orc cities often end in "-abad". Which is means city in Urdu, and is why many cities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and north India end that way. Warhammer is an 80'ies product from England when they had problems associated with a lot of immigration from specifically Pakistan. I doubt that's simply a coincidence .

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    I'm not a big fan of fantasy, but I'm kind of bothered by the same thing in from a linguistic point of view. Take the Klingon homeworld in Star Trek. It was originally called "Kronos", which was in line with the series' fascination of Greek mythology. But then at some point it became "Qo'noS" or "Q'onoS". With an apostrohe and a capital S at the end.

    What the fuck.

    Why would Klingons be so pedantic about the typography of the English language? Don't they have their own writing system and alphabet they could use? In real history, before computers and printing presses, people were mostly illiterate, and there was a tendency for foreign names and words to be spelled and pronounced in a variety of different ways, due to them being transmitted orally among the people. Nobody would care about the location of apostrophes or the capitalization rules of a particular word simply because very few people would know how to read or write.

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    Ever see this movie? It's a comedy about fantasy/sci-fi writers and writing. From the people who made Napoleon Dynamite. It's hilarious. Has a cult following among fantasy/sci-fi fans as it doesn't really mock the genres as much as celebrate them. I've timestamped it at a classroom scene where a famous fantasy author is teaching a clinic to kids about coming up with fantasy names. Funny, especially the troll stuff, IMO.

    https://youtu.be/iCmO8KtljMg?t=1073

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayjay View Post
    Take the Klingon homeworld in Star Trek.
    That's "tlhIngan"!

    It was originally called "Kronos", which was in line with the series' fascination of Greek mythology. But then at some point it became "Qo'noS" or "Q'onoS". ... Why would Klingons be so pedantic about the typography of the English language?
    Klingon xenoanthropologists observed that humans are hypersusceptible to being guilt-tripped by allegations of cultural insensitivity, they see it as a weakness, and it's against Klingon religion to allow an enemy weakness to remain unexploited?

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    Actually, I walk a wide circle around fantasy books and movies, but if I was going to indulge, I wouldn't want to read about Bert's space ship, Judy's magic talisman, or Dot's pet dragon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ideologyhunter View Post
    Actually, I walk a wide circle around fantasy books and movies, but if I was going to indulge, I wouldn't want to read about Bert's space ship, Judy's magic talisman, or Dot's pet dragon.
    So, strictly vampires vs. werewolves, eh?

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