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Easily Pronounced Names
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I just read an article in Wired in which the author cited a study showing that people with easily pronounced names (e.g., familiar names, short names) are perceived to be more likeable.

I would argue that the same is true of fictional characters. C. J. Cherryh, in her earliest works, gave difficult, polysyllabic names to her protagonists. While excellent works of fiction, her earlier work did not garner the same kind of respect that her later works have, and I would argue that part of the reason (for me, at least) was that I could neither pronounce nor remember nor keep them straight -- because they were too weird.

There's an art to naming characters. Bob, Joe, Sally, Jane are too familiar, too old-fashioned, too plebian. But names like Ark'neishatrabeg make my eyes water.

One of the best compromises I've seen recently is to give an exotic character an exotic name, and then have the protagonist (and everyone else, including the reader) call him/her by a nickname that's easily remembered and pronounced.

Or, alternatively, an exotic name of maybe two syllables, each one by itself easy to say.

Oh, and the other thing about names in novels? Please don't have two characters with similar names. I never can keep it straight which is Darin and which is Darryl.

I wonder how names affect candidates' chances for election. Obama is certainly easy to pronounce. So are Romney and Santorum and Paul. And then there's the Grinch...I mean, Gingrich.

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