Tuesday, February 19, 2008
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...


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Blogger KYDS3K said...

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,


February 19, 2008 2:11 AM  
Blogger amber_mane said...

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.


February 19, 2008 4:28 AM  
Blogger SRH said...

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.

February 19, 2008 7:09 AM  
OpenID suziko said...

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

February 19, 2008 7:39 AM  
Blogger Wysen said...

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.

February 19, 2008 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Lindsay 2 said...

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

February 19, 2008 8:58 AM  
Blogger Mainjari said...

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.

February 19, 2008 9:10 AM  
Blogger Adam B. Shaeffer said...

And knowing is half the battle . . .

February 19, 2008 10:43 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

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?

February 19, 2008 11:16 AM  
Blogger Kenneth said...

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.

February 19, 2008 12:47 PM  
Blogger LoonLady said...

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

February 19, 2008 1:04 PM  
Blogger Pat said...


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].

February 19, 2008 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

February 19, 2008 2:08 PM  
Blogger Kelly Swails said...

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?

February 19, 2008 6:14 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

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.

February 19, 2008 8:13 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

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....

February 19, 2008 8:18 PM  
Anonymous Geddy L. said...

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.

February 19, 2008 9:13 PM  
Anonymous tycho said...

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.

February 19, 2008 9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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."

February 19, 2008 9:54 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

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.

February 19, 2008 11:09 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

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.

February 20, 2008 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kelly Swails:

mmm...for the wheel of time series the pronunciations of names are in the back of the books... Egwene = Eh-Gwain

February 20, 2008 2:07 PM  
Blogger Kelly Swails said...

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 ...

February 20, 2008 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

close enough hehe ^.^

February 20, 2008 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.


February 21, 2008 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Daniel said...

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.

February 21, 2008 9:05 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

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.

February 21, 2008 9:51 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

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.

February 21, 2008 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Llyralei said...

Hmm, I've always said "ray-stlin". And, uh, "Kvothe." ;P

And 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

February 22, 2008 11:06 AM  
Blogger Natasha said...

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

March 7, 2008 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.


May 6, 2009 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Ella said...

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...

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..

July 16, 2009 4:25 AM  
Anonymous monse said...

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!!


January 8, 2010 8:37 PM  
Blogger Mike Thompson said...

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.

February 20, 2010 10:21 PM  

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