When Irish Ears Are Smiling


Welcome to my life. I am researching and writing my next book, which is based on the gods of ancient Ireland – the Tuatha Dé Danann, to be specific – and name pronunciation is really making my head swim. Not to mention, many of the names of these gods have gone through several iterations, and can be spelled a half-dozen different ways, depending on when in time they were written about, or where in Ireland you find the narrator of the story.

Saoirse Ronan did a wonderful bit on the pronunciation of Irish names on the Stephen Colbert show a while back. Skip to 2:40 to see it – you’ll get an idea of what I’m dealing with, here.

So when you’re writing a book, an exotic-sounding name is cool, but if you make it really rough to pronounce and your reader may get so hung up on pronouncing it, it can take them out of the story and we don’t want that.

God bless my Irish ancestors. But I have to find a happy medium here, and that may mean going with more modern versions of some of these names. I’m sticking as true as I can to most of this, but this is mythology, and many of these stories have multiple variations, so I’m building on a theme and writing a new path for these overly-voweled character names to trod upon.

So far, so good. I’ll keep you posted.


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