Just Sayin’…

I was watching a TV show yesterday, one that’s set in the Shetland Islands (and is, incidentally, called Shetland. What a coincidence). Anyway, there was a character in that episode named Catriona. You know, just like Cat in my Septimus Series. Nice name, right?

But then, to my great shock, I heard the name pronounced “Katrina”. Cat-REE-nah. Oh dear. I’ve always pronounced it Cat-ree-OH-nah. Have I been mispronouncing my own character’s name all these years?

I’m a bit of a stickler for correctly pronouncing people’s names. I am, with great regularity, on the receiving end of first-name mispronunciation, my name being Angelika. Now, if you’re German, you’ve just mentally pronounced it like this: Ang-GAY-lick-uh – hard g, emphasis on second syllable. That’s good. But if you’re English-speaking, chances are very high that you’ve said it like this: An-jel-EEK-uh – soft g, emphasis on third syllable. For some reason, most English-speaking people do it that way – I don’t know why. If it’s spelled with a c, Angelica, they say An-JEL-lick-uh, which I much prefer. My best guess is that with the k spelling, they see it and go “Eeep, foreign! Must be pronounced weird,” and that’s what they come up with. Or maybe they’re thinking of the only other English word that ends with “-ika”, which is “paprika”, and model the twisting on that.

Anyway, point being is that I want to pronounce people’s names correctly, even if they’re fictional people I’ve invented and named myself. So I was a little dismayed to hear Cat’s name said very differently from how I’ve always done it. To be honest, if the name is going to be pronounced Katrina, I’d just as soon have it spelled that way – and I wouldn’t have chosen that name for Cat. It’s a nice name and all, but I like Catriona better.

So I looked it up – thank you, Google and Youtube. And to my relief I found that my mispronunciation is actually a legitimate way of saying the name. Cat-ree-OH-nah. You can also go with Cat-REE-oh-nah (like Hermione, Her-MY-oh-nee), so there are actually three different ways of saying it. The Gaelic is Cat-REE-nah, but the version with OH in it is legit too – it’s more of an American pronunciation, which works because my Cat is meant to be American (with Canadian or maybe Scottish grandparents – hey, maybe her mom named her Cat-ree-OH-nah, and her grandmother, who raised her and was a bit of a stickler, always insisted on Cat-REE-oh-nah? That only just occurred to me.).

Now, don’t get me wrong – if you’ve been reading the Septimus books, and you’ve mentally pronounced Cat’s name as Katrina, that’s perfectly fine by me. As long as you like my Cat, and make her your own, that’s wonderful, and you can pronounce her name any way you see fit. Incidentally, the same goes for Guy – I say it as “guy” (as in, “That guy is a potter,” which is where his name originated), but if you want to say it the French way, “ghee”, feel free.

Life, the Universe, and Ways to Say a Name. But Steve is always Steve.

Here’s a picture of Steve (St-EE-v) and his cousin Alfred (ALF-red).

Author: quillandqwerty

writer, editor, maker of things

3 thoughts on “Just Sayin’…”

  1. I know we’ve talked about this regarding your name before (and I do now always pronounce it the German way), and I know for me, the “k” made me think it was pronounced the Slavic way, since the only other person I know of with that spelling (Russian figure skater Angelika Krylova) pronounced it “Ahn-jel-EEK-ah.” But that might not even be across-the-board Slavic–we spell and pronounce Daria’s name the Russian way: DAH-ree-ah, but I recently met a Czech woman who said she would spell it Darya and pronounce it exactly that way–Dar-yah, with equal emphasis on both syllables. Who knew?

    I have people who ask me if I pronounce my name with a soft “s” at the end or a hard one, and my response is always, “uh … yes?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The funny thing is that with the Russian skater, even spelling it with a k is kind of odd, as it’s a transcription of the cyrillic anyway. 🙂
      As for your name, maybe they’re thinking “Lou-eez” vs. something like “Lou-ee-sa” (where the “a” is almost non-existent)?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you’re right with Lou-eez/Lou-ee-sa–for a long time my pastor called me Louisa because he thought the “e” ought to be pronounced.

        And apparently the *proper* transcription of the skater’s name from Cyrillic is Anzhelika, which I never knew until just now when I started to nose around a bit more!

        Liked by 1 person

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