Ask the Author #4: How Do I Pronounce Kvothe’s name?

And now for a little T&A…

No. Wait. That should be Q&A. Sorry…

Dear Pat,

I know you’re busy, but how exactly do you pronounce “Kvothe?”

I know it’s similar to “quothe,” but I’m still not sure how it sounds. Can you help clarify the specific phonetic pronunciation?

The initial “kv” sound in “Kvothe” doesn’t crop up in standard English that often. But it does appear in the Yiddish term “kvetch.

The “o” is the same as in “roll” or “hole.”

The “e” is silent.

If you’ve been pronouncing it wrong, don’t sweat it. You’re not alone. I’ve heard a lot of different pronunciations over this last year:

Kvahthe. (With the middle sound like you’re saying “Ahhh” at the doctor’s office.)

Kvothay. (With the ending rhyming with “prey.”)

Kvothee, Kvahthay…. No no no. You’re all making it harder than it needs to be. That’s why I put that bit in right at the beginning of his story. “My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as ‘Quothe.’”

Kv + Quothe = Kvothe. Simple.

Still, even this confusion makes me happy. I remember the Raistlin/Rastlin arguments me and my friends had years ago.

Wow, that’s a warm fuzzy thought. My first year in college, out at someone’s house, drinking homemade sangria in their kitchen and arguing about Dragonlance. I remember thinking, “I never knew there were this many people like me out in the world.”

Those were good times. It almost makes me want to not post this up. That way, people can have that same sort of pointless argument about my book as I used to have about Weiss and Hickmann’s.

Nah. I’ll leave this up. That way when there’s an argument, y’all can step in and seem supercool because you’ve got the inside scoop.

Oh, and one other thing. Tarbean isn’t pronounced tar + bean.

It’s tar + bee + en. The end is similar to how you say “Caribbean.”

And now you know…

pat

This entry was posted in Fanmail Q + ABy Pat47 Responses

47 Comments

  1. black Sunshine
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 8:11 AM | Permalink

    well holy shit. i think that i’ve not ever had a discussion in real life with anyone about the book, but i’ve been spot on about Kvothe’s name pronunciation (yes, i pay attention to what i read!). however, i am guilty of the “tar bean” gaffe. my apologies. far too many mind erasers and jameson shots tonight, -ad

    • Posted August 2, 2012 at 7:16 PM | Permalink

      POR FAVOR ..LEED EL LIBRO..”El Temor De Un Hombre Sábio” ..capitulo 43 primera página..el autor escribe:
      (-En es Kvothe-dije distraidamente-.La “v” y la ” e” son mudas.)
      PLEASE… READ THE BOOK “The wise man’s fear” chapter 43…first page “….is Kvothe…the “v” and “e” not pronounced

  2. Dynishra Shin
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 10:28 AM | Permalink

    yay! now i know that the way i’ve been pronouncing those two names in my head has been correct! Oh… and i didnt think any self respecting writer would name a city Tar-bean. Except maybe Terry Pratchett because …he’s Terry Pratchett. Though i must say the concept of a Tar Bean makes me curious.~Dyn~

  3. mmmmmpig
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 1:09 PM | Permalink

    There are multiple accepted pronunciations of “Caribbean.” Just as an FYI. It may not be a good example for Tarbean’s pronunciation. Then again, it also may be perfect.

  4. suziko
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for clearing that up! I had Kvothe’s name right, but was was guilty of the Tar Bean pronunciation.

  5. Jay Belt
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 2:20 PM | Permalink

    My wife and I got into it one night over the pronunciation of Kvothe. And I too got into the Raistlin/Rastlin argument with my other geek friends in middle school. So I find this post highly amusing. Also I am glad to see I got Tarbean right.

  6. Lindsay 2
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    So does that mean “tar-BEE-en” or “TAR-bee-en”? I’m just saying, is all. :)

  7. Mainjari
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    LOL. I’ve just been pronouncing it as “Quothe” since I could never figure out what you meant by “It’s pronounced nearly the same as ‘Quothe’” For the first chapter I kept thinking “What’s <>nearly<> the same? It’s either the same or it isn’t. If he meant similar, wouldn’t he just say ‘similar’?”In the end, I just pronounced it <>absolutely<> the same as Quothe, reasoning that perhaps you meant for Kvothe to be a Roman Latin name in which the Vs and Us were the same letter.Now I know.

  8. Adam B. Shaeffer
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 4:43 PM | Permalink

    And knowing is half the battle . . .

  9. Alison
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

    Okay, but I still don’t know if I should say the V or not. *has been arguing with her friend about this for, like, months* Is it Kuh-voth? Or Kwo-th?

  10. Kisaoda
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

    I had the same reasoning as Mainjari. After taking three years of Latin, I just used my good ol’ Roman logic and switched the ‘v’ to a ‘u’ (or, probably more accurate, a ‘w’).Thank you for the explanations, Pat. Like some others, I actually fell into the Tar-Bean category. But the Caribbean connection helps a bunch.One question though: How do you pronounce Imre? That one has had me stuck.

    • Chance
      Posted August 17, 2014 at 7:10 PM | Permalink

      In the book, (and no, I don’t remember exactly who/when/where..) someone referred to Imre as “Imary,” or something along those lines. That makes a certain amount of sense, if you think about it. Just pronounce the “m” in “Imre” fully. When you say the letter, you probably do what most people do and say “imuh,” like “him-uh” without the “h.” Not so much emphasizing the “uh” at the end, but if you listen for it, it’s almost always there. So, someone NOT currently studying at the University ( :P ) may well pronounce the word “im-uh-ree,” or “Imary.” But, personally, I’ve always just gone with “im-rey.” I like Pat’s idea. Say it how you want. You won’t hurt anything or ruin this wonderful story :)

  11. CasinoReview
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 7:04 PM | Permalink

    Fortunately my daughter and I had the advantage of actually hearing you (Pat) pronounce Kvothe at the Fantasy Matters Conference, so we had that right, however Tarbean we had wrong. Not any longer…. Thanks for the clarification! I am happy to say Alexis (14 yrs) is LOVING the book! She keeps coming to me and asking questions. Some I answer because it’s appropriate. Others, I don’t because she will find out the answer as she reads on.She is asking if there will be an UNABRIDGED audiobook, we love these, and if so, will you be reading it? She really wants YOU to be the one reading it. I must say I feel the same way!Laurie & Alexis

    • R. Willow
      Posted December 7, 2010 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

      Audible.com ( part of Amazon) has it unabridged. And they have a Free-for-two-weeks-get-one-book-free deal going on at the mo’. The reader’s is voice is just perfect for Kvothe. I can only wonder if his pronunciation is correct, Kvothe and tarbean he’s got correct, though it took him a few times to get Kvothe really smooth.

  12. Pat
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 7:17 PM | Permalink

    SRH: Yeah. I was thinking of that while I made the post. I’m thinking of the [carry-bee-yun] pronunciation, not the [k' rib-ian].

  13. Anonymous
    Posted February 19, 2008 at 8:08 PM | Permalink

    Wait, you didn’t give a pronunciation for tarbean in the book, did you?Because if not, then it will always be tar + bean to me.

  14. Kelly Swails
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 12:14 AM | Permalink

    Dude, have you ever read Wheel of Time? You wanna get a bunch of geeks together and debate pronunciations, that’s the series to do it with. Egwene, anyone?

  15. Sean
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 2:13 AM | Permalink

    Ah Mr. Rothfuss, your initial error came when you assumed I knew how “quothe” was pronounced.p.s. I’ve also found that even though I often times later learn the correct pronunciation to characters names, my mind refuses to read them to me that way. So in my head, he will forever remain, Quo-thee.

  16. Pat
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 2:18 AM | Permalink

    Sean: I’m the exact same way. And honestly, I’m of the mind that everyone should pronounce his name the way that makes them happiest. This is just for the folks who were curious….

    • doccrock
      Posted July 13, 2011 at 9:53 PM | Permalink

      Heh,

      My friend and I had that argument, um, discussion when we read the book, and ended up settling it by, “Quothe the raven… nevermore…” (in the best possible Vincent Price impression I could muster, which actually sucked, but still). At least, I ended it. :D

      And, no one can pronounce my son’s name when they first see it (“Draeghen”). But, once they hear it, makes perfect sense. Kind of like Ray-gun, but with a D.

  17. Geddy L.
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 3:13 AM | Permalink

    I still don’t understand how you pronounce the “Kv” sound…Is it like “kuh-vothe”Or more like “Kwothe”But, to be perfectly honest… I have been pronouncing the name as “Kwothe/Quothe” since the first time I read his name… so learning the true pronunciation probably won’t change anything.Not only am I stubborn once I have my own version of the pronunciation, but even if his name is “kuh-vothe”, my laziness will prevent me from saying it properly.That being said, at least I know I was right on the Tarbean issue.Oh and one last thing. Imre. As someone said above, this one has been stumping me on the pronunciation.

  18. tycho
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 3:26 AM | Permalink

    Geddy, if you’re having trouble with Kvothe, just find the nearest Jew and ask them to say kvetch. Or click the little audio thing on the linked page.

    • R. Willow
      Posted December 7, 2010 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

      Geddy, when i was taught to say kvetch, my friend had me saying k-v k-v over and over until they ran together. just remember k is just k not “kah”
      hope that helps :)

  19. Anonymous
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 3:54 AM | Permalink

    Ha, I am one of the smarter readers. Right there in the dust jacket and in the first chapter it says, “My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as quothe.” That cleared it up. I have Tarbean right too. Tar-bee-en. Three syllables. Though I do tend to pride myself on my linguistic skills and lord my ability to get character names right just by reading them. I have only failed once in the last ten years of reading fantasy novels. Speaking of WoT…even when Jordan himself said the character names people still dispute them. Okay people Moiraine is “Mwah-Rain” and Egwene is “Eh-Gwain” Lan’s surname is “Man-Drah-Gore-en.” Like Al Gore, not a dragon. Oh, and the one fail I mentioned was House Targaryen from A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s four syllables “tar-gar-ee-en.” Not “Tar-Gar-Yen.”

  20. Sean
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 5:09 AM | Permalink

    Pat I think you misunderstood. I’m very interested and love knowing. Unfortunately, that’s the logical part of my brain. The other part, that reads to me, doesn’t seem to pay attention.In my hurry to devour a good story, I’ve been known to completely misread a character’s name. That is, I basically make up and entirely new name for the character. Later, realizing the error of my ways, I still can’t seem to read the correct name in my mind.I’m quite sure I’m broken somehow…I do try to use my logical mind in conversation, so as to seem slightly less weird.

  21. Steve
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 1:08 PM | Permalink

    I seriously can’t believe a simple Kv causes people this much of a braincramp. Anyhoo– I was actually hoping Tarbean was Tar+bean as a throw back to what Weiss and Hickman called coffee on Krynn: Tarbean Tea.

  22. Anonymous
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 8:07 PM | Permalink

    Kelly Swails:mmm…for the wheel of time series the pronunciations of names are in the back of the books… Egwene = Eh-Gwain

  23. Kelly Swails
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 10:59 PM | Permalink

    Anonymous: Yeah, I know. But I read the entire first book before realizing there was a frickin’-dictionary-in-the-back, so whatever pronounciation I made up stuck in my head. Doesn’t matter that Egwene is “Eh-gwene” or Moiraine is “Mwah-rain”. To me it’s always “Egg-win” and “More-rain”. I know, I know …

  24. Anonymous
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 11:17 PM | Permalink

    close enough hehe ^.^

  25. Anonymous
    Posted February 21, 2008 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

    Okay…so funny coincidence…I’m re-reading the Dragonlance Chronicles for the first time since the first time…about 7th grade…Oh…and I’ve always said Rastlin.Danny

  26. Daniel
    Posted February 22, 2008 at 3:05 AM | Permalink

    Maybe I am stupid, but I don’t think that made it clear to me. Unless I hear it I suppose I will never know for sure. I guess I can’t be mad at my mom for pronouncing puberty, pooberty, making my childhood even more awkward.

  27. Steve
    Posted February 22, 2008 at 3:51 AM | Permalink

    Pat, do you say Kvothe’s name in that interview you did with nerdy mclawyerpants a while back?This guy is making me sad.Throw the kid a bone.

  28. Steve
    Posted February 22, 2008 at 3:53 AM | Permalink

    annnnd it’s Ray-st-lin I believe according to Weiss, who created him. The name is meant to have a phonetic call back to the word Wraith.

  29. Llyralei
    Posted February 22, 2008 at 5:06 PM | Permalink

    Hmm, I’ve always said “ray-stlin”. And, uh, “Kvothe.” ;PAnd while I find most of the foreign names in your book to be fairly simple, I have a huge fondness for authors who include pronunciation guides at the back, haha. It just makes me feel more secure when I’m talking about the book to other people. :D

  30. Natasha
    Posted March 7, 2008 at 5:54 PM | Permalink

    Ah, the joys of Icelandic. I got the pronunciation of Kvothe right without trying.

  31. Anonymous
    Posted May 6, 2009 at 10:52 PM | Permalink

    You explained Kvothe in your book, and I figured Tarbean correctly after 2 attempts at it. LOL tar been. I like your story and will continue to wait more or less patiently for book 2.
    p.s. I hope you don’t think this is a frosty dick-hole comment.

    peace

  32. Ella
    Posted July 16, 2009 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

    Aha! I got it right!

    …though not the Tarbean bit…

    I actually had an argument with my boyfriend about this. He insisted that it was pronounced ‘kwohth’ where the ‘oh’ sounds like…I dunno..
    Ella attempts to think of word that has the appropriate ‘oh’ sound in it…

    Opal!
    Gotcha!
    So he insisted that it was o-for-opal Kvothe, and I insisted that it was pronounced correctly. Oh, and he also pronounced the V…making it like ker-vohthe. Hah. Silly man.

    Thanks Pat for clarifying that, and also for giving me something to rub in his face, just a little bit. He usually gets pronounciations correct..

  33. monse
    Posted January 9, 2010 at 2:37 AM | Permalink

    Hello Pat, greetings from Mexico!!
    I buy your novel about two weeks ago, I’m almost finished, I’m reading when kvothe arrives to Trebon and finds denna hurt.
    To tell you the truth, I feel afraid about read it all in the next couple of days because, I TOTALLY LOVE IT, it’s so great how you describe emotions, feelings, anger,sadness, The kind of books I’ve read of fantasy don’t get even closer to that, your words are so refreshing, the way you write the story, how you get me underneath kvothe, it’s really amazing.
    It’s wonderful, you’ve made me laugh, cry, sometimes I don’t sleep so i continue reading this amazing book that i had the opportunity to have in my hands.
    My name is monse, i’m 23 and i’m studying political sciences, almost finished and your novel, from all the stress, all the drama, the hurt, and pain in my life, i forget all of it when i know every day more about kvothe.
    thanks a lot pat, thanks for this clever and refreshing novel of fantasy, so needed thesedays. is all i can say, hope you come to my country soon so I can tell you personally.
    kisses and hugs from your mexican friend!!

    Monse.

  34. Mike Thompson
    Posted February 21, 2010 at 4:21 AM | Permalink

    I too assumed it was pronounced almost exactly like ‘quothe,’ with the ‘v’ being a soft sound as in Latin.

    Since the story is almost entirely a direct quotation of his own words, I thought having the main character be named “Quothe” was fairly clever.

  35. Posted September 29, 2010 at 2:07 AM | Permalink

    I would guess you’re not reading these comments anymore, but maybe one of your fans would have a suggestion. How do you pronounce “Chandrian”? There are so many different ways the vowel sounds could go, and it’s driving me crazy.

    • R. Willow
      Posted December 9, 2010 at 10:47 PM | Permalink

      notemily- it has to rhyme with plan. The question is: Is it a soft or hard Ch. Shan-dree-ann or Chan-dree-ann?

  36. Posted March 2, 2011 at 9:19 PM | Permalink

    My husband and I have been playing the pronunciation game over nearly all of the names… (except Kvothe, which we agreed on, given the “quothe” clue in the book.)
    From Chandrain to Auri and even Fela can be said different ways. Seems to me like we need a pronunciation index.

  37. codeturner
    Posted October 6, 2011 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

    Based on the audiobook, here’s a few pronunciations:

    CHAN-dree-un

    Auri rhymes with sorry

    Fela is pronounced fell-uh

    Devin’s last name is lock-eeze

    Devi is de-vee

    Lanre is lan-ray

    Hemme is hem

    Kote is coat

    Taborlin is tabb-er-lin

    Arliden is ar-luh-den

    Trabon is tray-bun

    Elodin is ee-LOW-din

    Edema Ruh is e-dee-muh rue

    Abenthy is a-ben-thee

    Eolian is eh-O-lee-un

    Imre is im-ray

    That’s just a few, but enough to catch on. Hard to do this without the pronunciation symbols. I should really just update wikipedia…;-)

  38. ivanesca
    Posted September 1, 2012 at 10:50 PM | Permalink

    holy hell I was right about the pronunciation.
    and holy hell AGAIN you read Dragonlance.
    believe it or not, it’s one of my top5 books (I usually call it ‘a book’ because it’s easier that pointing out the one and only.)

  39. lauradeth
    Posted March 14, 2013 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

    He pronounces it here, for those still confused.

    It’s pronounced K-oth, I think, that’s how I interpret it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRpBpSW6eKU it’s at 8.06

  40. Envirobear2000
    Posted August 13, 2014 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

    The thing I don’t get is, how is the whole “hint” about it being pronounced similar to Quothe supposed to help? Quothe isn’t a word! I don’t know how it’s pronounced… like “quoth”? Like “quote”? Some other way? It doesn’t really seem to help… well, at least I think I get it now.

    • Chance
      Posted August 17, 2014 at 7:01 PM | Permalink

      “Quoth” is like “said.” I’m not sure what the added “e” is for. Artistic license? :P Anyway, the actual word is pronounced “k-whoa-th,” but be careful not to put much emphasis on the “whoa.” Just let it all run together. For the beginning of the word, just think of the word “quit.” The “qu” is the same.

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