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Spectre

Stupid Question, Probably

17 posts in this topic

Returning after many years, and have decided to play this again...After watching some playthroughs on YT, I have what is probably one of the more stupid questions on here...How on earth is 'Avernum' pronounced? I've heard it as 'av-ER-num' on YT, yet for years I've thought it was 'AV-er-num'. Anyone know the correct way to say it?

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Well, the inspiration from it came from Lake Avernus in Italy, which is said in mythology to be an entrance to the underworld, and that's pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable.

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I don't know if you were wrong per se. I suspect that although most people put stress in the second syllable, there is still a lot of variety in how people pronounce "Avernum" due to funky vowel business in the first two syllables. (This is to be contrasted with Exile, Nethergate, and Geneforge, which are all blatantly English words or compounds thereof, and Avadon, whose vowels are more straightforward.)

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I know a couple of people argued quite passionately for it here once, but "very common" seems like a bit of a leap from that. (Also, apparently there's a video floating around of Jeff pronouncing it the compound way, as well as an anecdote about Linda or Mariann not even recognizing it when pronounced the three syllable way.)

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I went looking for how Jeff pronounced them because I did hear it once. Didn't find it because I was looking in the wrong place.

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Among the non-SW people I have personally introduced to Geneforge, and SW people I've had the chance to hear say "Geneforge", and my ten-year-old self, Jennaforge is overwhelmingly the pronunciation people use when they see the word. :p

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So, your data set consists of (1) yourself; (2) people who you personally introduced the word "Geneforge" to; and (3) people mostly covered by Neb's relevant explanation:

Back to the topic, ever since I first saw "Geneforge", probably some time in mid 2006, I've pronounced it "Jen-eh-forge". Consequently, anyone around me who's seen the game, says the same.

It's wrong.

But how I do it.

And probably always will.

Nothing wrong with that set of people, it just doesn't seem like a relevant data set, since most of those people picked up the pronunciation from what they heard from you & others, rather than from looking at the word. So it speaks to what can propagate, but not so much to how common anything is in the world at large.

 

 

On a technical level, in the case of Geneforge, it seems like which pronunciation readers use initially (and likely forever) depends on whether they initially read "Geneforge" as a compound word or not. This makes sense -- in English, compound words typically override the pronunciation we would otherwise expect with the usual pronunciation of their component words. It also makes sense that 10-year-olds may be less likely to read it this way.

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Oh, no, I say Geneforge properly now, and I have for like nine or ten years, but still when I show it to people without them osmosing the pronunciation from me first, either because it's over the internet or because I only said it once or twice beforehand, there is a strong tendency towards Jennaforge. And most SW/CR people totally knew Geneforge and pronounced it however they pronounced it long before we shared pronunciations with each other, the pronunciations among that group of people who've used the word around each other a lot are mixed.

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clearly what jeff should have done is camelcased the title: GeneForge

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(This is to be contrasted with Exile, Nethergate, and Geneforge, which are all blatantly English words or compounds thereof, and Avadon, whose vowels are more straightforward.)

 

There are multiple ways someone could conceivably pronounce Avadon. 'ă və don, 'ā və don, ə 'vă dən, and ə 'vā dən, for instance.

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There are multiple ways someone could conceivably pronounce Avadon. 'ă və don, 'ā və don, ə 'vă dən, and ə 'vā dən, for instance.

Despite its reputation, English actually does have a complex system of internal 'rules' that define the way we pronounce written words. To be clear, these are not rules imposed on the outside by grammarians; this is just part of the structure of the language that we use to communicate coherently with each other. For the most part, we aren't consciously aware of these rules at all, and they don't feel like rules, because they are so implicit -- and also because there are plenty of exceptions. So if a writer gives us a name for something and makes it clear from the start that it has a certain pronunciation, we'll accept that, no matter how unusual it is. But absent the specifications, there's less wiggle room than it sometimes seems like. So for Avadon, there are other "conceivable" pronunciations, maybe, but the vast majority of native speakers are going to pronounce it the same way. And three of the possibilities you offer are not all that conceivable.

 

The second one (with the long initial a) basically requires that the v influences the second syllable instead of the first, which it isn't going to do by default. Try thinking of any three syllable English word, that isn't a compound or loanword and doesn't have affixes, with 'a' or 'av' as the first syllable, where the a is long. I know that sounds specific, but you may be surprised at how difficult it is to come up with exceptions. (There are a few, but not many.) Again, complex system, but the results are still not arbitrary in most cases.

 

In the last two examples, you've put the stress on the second syllable. That doesn't normally happen unless something triggers it -- and there are a lot of things that can do that -- but none of them are going on in Avadon.

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AAY-ver-num. That's just how I've always said it. Like Erika's name... I pronounced it Air-REE-kah to give it a more mystical feel. My own name also has weird pronunciation. It's pronounced Soul-beorg.

 

Post #717

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