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Why do authors give their characters unpronouncable names?

(75 Posts)
HookedOnHooking Thu 18-Jun-15 19:47:37

Harry Quebert I'm looking at you.

Why? Why don't they just call them Smith or Jane?

And how do I pronounce Quebert?

Kuh-Bear?

or cue-bert?

FirstOfficerDouglasRichardson Thu 18-Jun-15 19:53:51

Like Quebec but ert instead of ex? The t might be silent.

KurriKurri Thu 18-Jun-15 19:54:00

I know - I feel the same about Susan Hill's Simon Serailler.

I'd go for Kuh-bear or even Kwuh-bear - but no idea really.

NoArmaniNoPunani Thu 18-Jun-15 19:56:45

I'd go with Pubert

DidoTheDodo Thu 18-Jun-15 19:58:17

I'd go for Koo-ber. Or just Harry.
Perhaps it is meant to be memorable?

Titsalinabumsquash Thu 18-Jun-15 19:59:30

Que - burt, I know a child with the name and his mum pronounces it like that ^

PHANTOMnamechanger Thu 18-Jun-15 19:59:38

Hyacinth Bucket = Bouquet, so applying the reverse principal Quebert = Cupboard

cardibach Thu 18-Jun-15 20:01:45

Doesn't matter. Call him Eric if you like - you're in charge, you're the reader!

eminthebigsmoke Thu 18-Jun-15 20:02:04

Haha phantom! It took me a few attempts to get started on the master and margarita because all of the names are so long and similar sounding.

BellMcEnd Thu 18-Jun-15 20:03:50

Yes Kurri! I agree about Simon. DM is a linguist and says it's Suh-Ray-Ler.

DS1 is reading Harry Potter at the mo and thinks the main female character is called Heramine Gran-ger (hard Gs) grin

LookingForDave Thu 18-Jun-15 20:06:35

Yes! Simon!
My (delightful and usually bright) friend thought it was Her-Me-Own.

tea4two4three Thu 18-Jun-15 20:07:21

Bell I can't believe he is struggling with the surname and not the first name, impressive! I thought it was pronounced Her-me-one until the movies were released and I was in my late teens when the fist book was released.

tea4two4three Thu 18-Jun-15 20:09:43

Ooops! posted at the same time as Dave and now I feel stupid and uncultured. I hope my friends still see me as delightful, regardless :-/

KurriKurri Thu 18-Jun-15 20:12:04

BellMcEnd - that's a very logical mistake though by your DS (rhymes with anger)

Thank your DM for me for Serrailler grin - I was mentally pronouncing it Suh-ray-ler, then someone told me they thought it should be 'Se-ray-yay' (or noise to that effect !) and I lost confidence grin

BellMcEnd Thu 18-Jun-15 20:14:12

Tea - I was the same with a pony book I read as a teenager. The lead character was called Chloe which is clearly pronounced "Ch - low" grin

BellMcEnd Thu 18-Jun-15 20:17:07

Ah yes Kurri! I'd not thought of the granger - anger link. Makes perfect sense now. I think HP, while fab, does challenge them with the names / words etc. Prob not a bad thing though smile

DisconcertedAndRetired Thu 18-Jun-15 20:27:29

I sometimes got the impression while reading Dostoevsky that he arbitrarily switched between the surname and the patronymic, i.e. referred to the same person by two different names. I suppose it's unlikely he was careless, but the names in Russian novels often become a blur in my mind, so that I sometimes struggle to connect someone in the present scene with their history.

(Maybe he referred to them by one name, and characters in direct speech used the other, confusing the hell out of me?)

MsCake Thu 18-Jun-15 20:30:24

In Russian referring to someone by their surname or patronymic implies different registers, tones.... like the difference between Mr Cameron, David Cameron, and Daveykins. It definitely wasn't carelessness!

DeidreChambersWhatACoincidence Thu 18-Jun-15 20:33:28

Lolgrin My dd is a keen reader but she was telling me a while back about an author she liked with the first name of (can't remember the surname) 'Why-Vone' confused.

It took me a while to realise she meant the woman's name is Yvonne grin

iklboo Thu 18-Jun-15 20:33:58

Not names, exactly, but at school we had to read a passage from a favourite book. My friend chose James Herriot's All Creatures Great And Small. She kept reading about 'peckies'. When I later read the book myself I realised she was referring to Pekingnese dogs - shortened to Peke (peaks).

WanderWomble Thu 18-Jun-15 20:34:06

Hello, author here. None of my characters have awkward or unpronounceable names.

HookedOnHooking Thu 18-Jun-15 20:40:06

Thank you Womble. I'll buy your books and enjoy knowing who they are about.

I just can't seem to bond with someone whose name I can't say.

ThinkIveBeenHacked Thu 18-Jun-15 20:42:45

Kweh Burt surely?

Que as in Question. Burt.

CoddledAsAMommet Thu 18-Jun-15 20:52:00

Keep going-there's an explanation of how to pronounce Quebert about one third in. I really enjoyed the book. ( you don't pronounce the T)

GreatAuntDinah Thu 18-Jun-15 20:54:37

Québert is a French surname so would be pronounced kay-bear.

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