Key-oh-tay or kwix-oat: can you pronounce ‘Don Quixote’ properly? | Books

Name: Donkey Shotty.

Pardon? No? Didn’t I get it right? Don Heeoaty? Is that how you say it?

Oh, you mean Don Quixote? Yes! I meant Don Qui … wait, are you supposed to pronounce the “x” or not?

Age: Listen, I’m clearly not good with words. How do you expect me to cope with numbers?

It’s “Don Quixote”, by the way. Say it with me. Don … Dowww– oh, it’s no good. I can’t pronounce his bloody name. In fact, you know what? Nobody can.

He’s the eponymous character of one of history’s most famous books. Everyone can pronounce it. Well, I can’t, and nor can loads of other people.

Really? According to a survey by Audible, yes. Almost half the 2,000 people quizzed had trouble getting his name right.

That’s unusual. No, it isn’t. Literature is littered with all sorts of confusing names that readers can’t understand until they have been said aloud. Before the the Game of Thrones TV series came along, for example, nobody alive knew how to pronounce Daenerys Targaryen.

Interesting. Any other examples? Hermione from Harry Potter was in the top 10.

Seriously? People actually called her Hermy-won? Look, stop being so high and mighty. Names can be difficult sometimes.

But Hermione is an actual name that actual people have. It’s not like she’s got a made-up name like Voldemort or anything. I think you mean “Voldemorr”.

What? That’s how JK Rowling says it’s meant to pronounced. With a silent “t”, like Stephen Colbert.

A silent “t”? That sounds like bullshi. You see how easily it’s done, though? The way you interpret a written word is highly subjective. Mistakes are made all the time.

Fine, I take your point. It’s pronounced Don Key-Hoh-Tey, by the way. Thank you. Now, what have we learned from all this?

We’ve learned that it’s unrealistic to expect people to be able to pronounce names that they’ve never heard before. Some might even call it quixotic. You mean key-hoh-tic?

No, quixotic, with an “x”. It’s a real word. Look it up, idiot. Oh, for goodness sake.

Do say: “Don Quixote.”

Don’t say: “Don Quixote.”

Source: The Guardian

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