Tuesday, June 8, 2010

On Pronunciation

A recent thread on the BOLS Lounge made me think of this topic. Different communities seem to have their own way of pronouncing words in the 40k universe. Here's some common ones:

Lasgun- According to Graham McNeill, it's LAS-gun with the A as in apple. I have heard people insist that it is LAYS-gun, as in laser. I actually used to think that they were right because of the laser pronunciation, but I always pronounced it LAS because LAYS just sounds silly.

Tzeentch- I haven't heard this one mispronounced very frequently but apparently some people start the word with an X sound. It's simple to pronounce, really. Say the word "pizza" and take the sound from the double z (in Italian double z is pronounced like a "tz" and some times like a "dz"). I believe Chinese and Japanese both have similar sounds.

Slaanesh- I always pronounce it SLAAN-esh with the A as in apple. However, I've heard a couple of times people saying Slaan-EESH which doesn't seem right to me. I figure that the doubled vowel indicates stress.

Tyranids- I've heard people pronounce the Tyr as in Tyrant so they become TIE-ra-nids. I say TEER-a-nids and I think the majority agrees with me on that one.

Nobs- I've always pronounced it as in knob, but some new guys in my group say "nohb" as in noble. That makes sense actually as an Ork nob is simply short for Noble, but Lexicanum disagrees and says that it is knob.

C'Tan- K-tan. It's a hard "cuh" sound. I've heard of people saying see-tan but Graham McNeill disagrees. Think of Cthulhu. But not for too long lest ye go mad.

Any that I missed?

Edit: Be sure to check out the comments, there's some good information there.


  1. Catachan has always been a divisive one. Some say Cat-a-chan, some say C'tashan (like how C'tan should be pronounced)

    A lot of people never realised that Chimera should be pronounced Kimeera until Mission Impossible II came out.

    Agreed on Las-gun. Laze-gun is a toally lame way of saying it.

    I think it's a UK/US divide in pronounciation. I know I wince everytime a US 40k podcast pronounces something entirely at odds as to how I would say it.

  2. Abaddon.
    There are some people that swear it's abba-don. Like the band. I however pronounce it Uh-bad-un. Drives me crazy even though around my neck of the woods I seem to be in the minority.

  3. Layzgun? I've not heard that particular mangling before. Ouch.

  4. Baal. Oh by all that's unholy Baal drives me crazy. So much that I've made my own post on it: http://pickadamnarmy.blogspot.com/2010/04/carapace-blood-pact-baal-pronunciation.html

    Bayl, like hay bail. Not ball.

  5. Ian, I've never heard of anyone mispronouncing Catachan but that is certainly odd. It looks pretty phonetic to me.

    I should have included Chimera, I used to think it was SHIM-er-a back when I was a teenager. Someone in my group mispronounced it the other day and I went on a lengthy explanation of the Greek letters involved...

    @Atrocity: Wow, you are right! I did some research and Abaddon is indeed uh-BAD-un. I should have caught on with the doubled consonant from a Semitic root.

    @Rabidchild: Well, technically the second letter of Baal (the "aa") has no equivalent in English. I studied Arabic and it's the Ayin sound which is a weird throaty stressed sound. I read your post on it and if you read the dictionary.com reference you gave (especially the third one) it gives 4 different ways to say it, including "Ball" and one with a glottal stop. However, the closest one in my opinion is the BAY-uhl one so you are right. "Ball" just sounds too boring and wrong.

  6. I just listened to the Audio Book, Raven's Flight, that is part of the Horus Heresy series. The way the voice actor pronounces "Astartes" totally blew my mind. I also think he's correct. He pronounces it "Uh-START-eez." Ever since I was 16 when I first started playing with Space Marines I had pronounced it "Uh-START-ez." Also, if you haven't listened to Raven's Flight, it's a pretty good little story that adds a little more to the Horus Heresy series.

  7. I have (and have always heard) 'Aquila' pronounced as 'ah-Kee-la' yet on the now defunct 40k radio they always pronounced it 'ah-kwil-la'.

    I never thought I was saying it wrong, but after hearing their pronunciation, I don't know who's right.

  8. Faolain! Please email me...you've won the giveaway! As soon as I hear from you, I'll post it on the blog


  9. Da Masta Cheef, it is indeed AH-kwil-ah.

    Zero: Done and done.

  10. Lol. I like this discussion.

    In Malaysia we have the same problem with Tyranids, Chimera, Catachan, Baal, and many others.

    The funniest one I've ever heard in my life is when someone pronounces a Daemon as DA-ae-mon with the Crocodile dundee slang. I think Daemon should sound similar to Demon, but it should be said as Dae-mon.

    Another one is the Gaunt word. Some pronounce it as Gaont. It should sound similar to Haunt.


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