This post was originally written and posted January 26th, 2015, and has been touched up and reposted here for archival purposes.
And so, with the death of the king, the land fell into darkness. Bereft of the powers of light carried by his crown, evil filled the kingdom, spreading suffering and death in its wake. The people despaired as their once peaceful, idyllic lives were beset by crime, villainy, and evil. The once-chancellor Valkeriank—
The chancellor. Valkeriank. You know, the one who murdered the king?
“Well, yeah, but what kind of name is Vala— … Valker— … Valla-something?
What’s wrong with it? It’s a perfectly ordinary name
“It doesn’t look like it.”
Well it is. Now, to continue with the story. As I was saying, the once-chancellor Valkeriank, assisted by his henchman Grotkkv—
“Okay, now that’s just ridiculous.”
“Gro—Grot-kk— … Yeah, I have no idea how to pronounce that. Grot-kiv? Gro-tik-vee? And who spells a name like that? It’s got two Ks in it!
It’s a perfectly acceptable name in this kingdom.
“The king’s name was Jack.”
“So what kind of kingdom has a range of names from ‘Jack’ to ‘Valkerwink’ and whatever that last one is?”
A multi-cultural one.
“Right. You sure you’re not just making stuff up? And what other cultures? The map at the front of the book doesn’t talk about any other lands! There’s just “The Known Kingdom.”
Oh, they’re out there. Look, can we just move on? You’re making this very difficult.
Ahem. As I was saying, assisted by his henchman Grotkkv, the chancellor ruled with an iron fist. The only hope of the people was a name.
“Is it a real name?”
Shut up. Anyway, the only hope of the people during this time was the missing prince, Prince Shadow—
“What. The. Abomination.”
Oh, now what are you on about?
“Prince Shadow? Could you get any more cliche?”
What? It’s a perfectly fitting name! He’s like shadow of justice, moving through the night. Brooding and mysterious! It’s edgy!
“So his dad—who’s name was Jack, just to reiterate to make sure I’m not pronouncing it? It’s not Ja’ack? No, anyway, so his dad, the king, looks at his baby son and says ‘I’m going to name him Shadow?'”
“I … You know what? Fine. Move on.”
I’d like to. Now, the only hope of the people during this time was the missing prince, Prince Shadow, a noble warrior who fought against evil …
“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”
Nothing, nothing. Anyway … And so, all across the kingdom of Lt’Namur’ik””t’sephat—
“That’s it! I’m done!”
What? What did I do? Was it too few apostrophes? I knew it! It was too few, wasn’t it! It doesn’t feel authentic enou—hey, where are you going? We’ve only just started! We’re not even off of the first page? There’s still two-hundred and seventy-four more to go! Don’t you want to hear what happens when Prince Shadow faces the dark beast of the Undershadows? In the dead land of Y’rrr’itquart? You’ll love it! Come on! You’re missing out!
Names. They’re kind of a big deal, which is why we’re talking about them today (in case you hadn’t guessed). Because despite how entertaining that little clip above you might have been, a good chunk of the humor in it comes from having been that poor reader. You know, the one who suffers through names of places that have way too many apostrophes. Or the place name that’s completely unpronounceable. Or the character name that just entirely shatters the mold of the world simply because the author wanted them to have a cool name.