Arya Sure That’s How It’s Pronounced?

Posted: January 1, 2015 by patricksponaugle in Game of Thrones, Opinion, TV
Tags: , , , , , ,

This post will be talking about HBO’s Game of Thrones, but I’m pretty sure this won’t be spoilery. Unless you want to try come up with your own way to pronounce the names in the books. There are so many names.


After He Read that Huge Genealogy Book, Ned’s Head Felt Like it was Going to Fall Off.

So. Many. Names.

I usually talk about the television show Game of Thrones, rather than the A Song of Ice and Fire series that it’s based on. I think I do that because I’d like to engage with the Unsullied show watchers who are experiencing the story as presented by HBO.

I try not to be a smug book reader, but it’s hard. Today, I will not hold back my smugness. But fear not. I’m not going to aim my smug focus on the innocent show watchers. I’ll be hitting on the book readers.

Specifically those who had read the books before the television series aired. And who had developed their own particular and peculiar way to pronounce the characters names. I can’t pretend to be the authority on how the names should be pronounced, so I’ll stick my neck out and say how I heard the names in my head when reading the books way back when. But I think I’m close to how they should be pronounced.

(I’m sorry, Dad. But I’m also totally going to throw you under the bus with this one.)

Arya. Arya, Arya, Arya.


Say Her Name Wrong, and She’ll Say Your Name as Part of her List.

Arya Stark. Arya. A-R-Y-A. It can’t be that hard to pronounce. I mean, it’s only four letters. Three, really, not counting the duplicate A. But that damn Y seems to throw people off.

I pronounce her name like it rhymes with “Aria.” For you uncultured savages, here’s how to pronounce that word:

I guess I’d write it phonetically as ARR-ee-uh. But I occasionally do occasionally pronounce it like “Arr-Ya” as in “Are Ya going to Scarborough Faire?” or some other punny way.

The show is kind of inconsistent. Ned Stark, if I recall correctly, pronounced her name like I do, but Catelyn Stark and Jaime Lannister both had really soft Rs when they’d say Arya’s name, so it sounded like “AH-ya” or maybe “AW-ya.”

But that’s all in the same ball-park. I’ve heard far weirder.

I have coworkers who pronounce it exactly like “area.” As in “What’s the Arya of that circle?”

One coworker insists on saying her name like “uh-RYE-uh.” What? Madness, I know.

My dad has them beat. He calls her “AY-ra.” I am not kidding.



I must be joking. There can’t be some other way to say “Bran.” It’s like bran-flakes or something. Bran, rhymes like man, tan, or can. Right?

Usually, but not always.

There’s a podcast I listen to where one of the long-time book readers clings to his pronunciation of “Brawn.” It seems like a more snootier way of saying it, but it’s probably as natural as pronouncing Sansa Stark as “SAHN-sa” instead of “SAN-sa.” I have no opinion on the correct way to pronounce her name. I’m not even sure how I do it, internally.

But back to Bran. I guess if you want to be all fancy-pants and resist saying it how hoi polloi do, there’s no harm in calling him “Brahn.”

Except now, it totally conflicts with this guy’s name.


Pay Me Enough, and You Say Me Name Any Ways You Like.

Bronn is an outstanding character. Why poach in on his name?

Catelyn Stark


It’s Perfectly Simple. Properly Address Me as “Lady Stark” and We’ll Get Along Famously.

Okay, no one pronounces her name that weirdly, but I think most book-readers originally pronounced it with a long initial A, Kate-Lynn instead of how the show does it, Kat-Lynn. I only bring this up because I’ve been told that since Lady Stark’s nickname is “Cat”, it should be obvious how her full name is pronounced.

My wife’s name is Lisa. That’s her actual name, not a nickname, but the name Lisa happens to also be short for Elizabeth. The name Elizabeth can be shortened in many other ways: Beth, Bess, Bessie, Betty, Bette, Bettie, Bettina, Liz, Liza, Eliza, etc.

So I’m not sold on the Cat obviousness argument.

Petyr Baelish


A Man, A Plan, A Pit, A Ladder, Panama! (Something Like That.)

Thank the Seven the show pronounces his name like “Peter.” I’ve heard all kinds of other variations: Pay-ter, Pie-ter, Pet-ter. I’m surprised that I don’t know anyone that calls him Pewter.

Thankfully, he has enough other identifiers that can be used. Baelish (which I’ve never heard anyone not pronounce as “Bay-lish”), Littlefinger, or Huggy Bear.


Do I have to explain that reference? Seriously? No one remembers Huggy Bear from the original Starsky & Hutch? Fine.

Tyrion Lannister


Very Well, Call Me “Half-Man” If You Must.

There appears to be a large consensus on how Tyrion is to be pronounced. Tear-ee-un (or maybe Tear-ree-un.)

Except with my book-reading boss, who got it into his head that the Giant of Casterly Rock should be pronounced Tyrone. (That would be TIE-rone.)

Or my dad who internalized it as TIE-ron. TIE-ron? In my dad’s defense, he sometimes gets Tyrion and Tywin confused when he’s reading. This keeps me on my toes when I’m talking about the show with my father.

To be fair, names are sometimes things that don’t neatly have one way to be pronounced. My last name (allegedly, based on my web page at least) is Sponaugle, and is pronounced differently by three generations of my family. I say it one way, my dad says it another way, and my paternal grandmother said it a third way. (I never realized until my wife pointed it out.)

The television show does the exact same thing with one of the great houses of Westeros.

The Tyrells


The ruling family of Highgarden’s last name is a lovely thing, and has many permutations. I’ve heard the show refer to them as the TIE-rells, the Tuh-RELLS, or as Tywin once referred to them, the Tuh-rulls. (I think he usually says TIE-rell when referring to any specific family member, it’s kind of cool.)

Is There a Point to This?

Look, we’re now in 2015, and we’re finally using the same calendar as the next season of television show. I wanted to celebrate something that the show-watchers have that the book-readers didn’t necessarily have. The unity and fellowship of having (usually) a standard frame of reference for people’s names.

Book readers can be smug about a lot of things: they can claim the books are better, they can critique the adaptation, they can go on and on about backstories (and feast descriptions) but their personalized ways of saying the names is an element that really doesn’t hold that much weight. Pronouncing maesters as “MY-sters” or Daenerys as “Day-Uh-Near-Us” just makes them look odd, not just by show watchers but by other book-readers who are on board with the show’s way of saying names.

Because the plot and characters in the books might be canon, but how those names are said is not. (Unless you want to try and argue that the audio-books are the pronunciation examplars, but because I’m small-minded and have never listened to them, I soundly reject that notion. REJECTED!)

I was kind of taken by the idea that this particular element of book-knowledge not being that significant, and I wanted to start off my weekly 2015 Game of Thrones articles (I’m going to write one-a-week, until the show starts up again, just like I did last year) with that particular observation. Huzzah for the Unsullied Book Readers!

Okay, I really wanted to bust on my dad for saying “Ay-ra” and “Tie-ron.” I admit it.

And I posted this after the Christmas Holidays, because I’m a skunk and didn’t want him to withhold loot.



Sorry dad.

Hey, anyone care to admit to novel ways they were pronouncing names before learning how the show did it? I’d love to hear them. This is a safe place.


Yes. A Very, Very Safe Place.

Images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously.)

I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text. So there.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2015 Some Rights Reserved

  1. Randito says:

    There’s a town in central PA called Tyrone just like the proper pronunciation of the halfman.


  2. longklaw says:

    I think GRRM says that it’s pronounced are-ya?

    I like how on the show different members of the Tyrell family say their name differently

    Liked by 1 person

  3. KG says:

    Arya and Asha are very common Indian names so I was secretly glad to see them but was wondering how others would pronounce it. But then Asha was replaced in the series with another name. I admit to pronouncing maester as maister instead of master. I had a confusion about Petyr but my friends corrected me early on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was sad that Asha was renamed Yara. I mean, Yara’s an okay name, but I loved the sound of Asha.

      Maester is pronounced May-ster on the show (I think), I remember pronouncing is My-ster because of the Italian word Maestro.

      Thanks for the feedback and telling me how you pronounced things. I promise I’m not doing it to make fun of anyone (except for some co-workers and my dad, clearly. I’m a bad son.)

      Best regards, and thank you again for commenting, it’s much appreciated.


  4. I started with the show then listened to the audiobooks. Pronunciations were the same in the first 3 books, then a new narrator for book 4 got it all wrong/different & I became a smug audiobook listener. What I’m saying is that the show went with the original book narrator’s pronunciations, which (I assume) were cleared with GRRM.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Denise says:

    It’s one of those strange things how people in the show pronounce the same name differently in so many cases. Weirdly gives the world of Westeros more depth.


  6. inertialconfinement says:

    I fell out of my chair laughing at:

    “I try not to be a smug book reader, but it’s hard.”

    I admit I pronounced Arya “a ri ya.” Catelyn– I pronounced like the show. It never occurred to me that it could be “kate-lynn” but now I can see it.

    This whole post was hilarious. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad you enjoyed it! To be clear, in “a ri ya” is the “ri” part pronounced “ree” or “rye”? I’m not going to make fun of you either way. Probably not going to.

      Again, thank you for the feedback, I appreciate it.


  7. I loved this post with a passion. I haven’t read the books (YET) but I imagined there would be some differences in terms of the names (and pronunciation). English is also not my first language, so it is sometimes hard to keep up with that. It is always fun to find out different ways to pronunciate names and things, especially when it comes to fiction. 😀 (I definitely love reading people arguing about pronunciation!)
    Can’t wait for next season, and your GoT posts 🙂


  8. Le Roi says:

    Son, Where did the bus come from? Dad

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I pronounce most of them right in my head! Except I read Kate-lynn like you. Oh and Tie-Ree-On oops.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. lydiaclark21 says:

    I won’t be smug about the names, but I can see how the names can be pronounced differently. Look at Bostonians who leave every r out of a word and never notice that it is missing. They ride around in ca-s and walk in pa-ks. So if Arya is said in a funny way without the r, I would never have noticed.
    Ah-ya. (lol)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for dropping by, Lydia!

      I kind of like how Arya is pronounced differently (I think) in the North, and in the Central area (Riverlands for Cat, and the Westerlands for Jaime.)

      Regional dialects are cool, even if it might be unintentional from the show.


  11. sb2711 says:

    My cousin is Aryan 😛 It is not difficult to pronounce in here because we have a lot of words that are a mix of the alphabets. Sample this – Dristi, Sobhagya, Dharmik etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 Thanks for the comments, and the beautiful name examples. (And for the pronunciation of Arya in your comment below.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • sb2711 says:

        You are welcome 😀 Google up – Sanskrit names and you will be baffled at the pronunciations 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • My favorite names to look up pronunciations are Gaelic names, because they all sound musical, and the rules are different for English. Here’s two examples from the Cuchulain myths of Ulster.

          Muirthemne: Mer-hev-na
          Naise Mac Uislenn: Neesa Mac Ishloo

          (I’m doing this from memory, and I think there might be regional differences in how Gaelic names are pronounced.)

          Liked by 1 person

          • sb2711 says:

            :O These are AWESOME. Who can guess the pronunciations? Scrap spell bee and keep this competition and it will be way more interesting 😀 I like what I see. I am scooting off to see more Gaelic names!

            Liked by 1 person

  12. sb2711 says:

    The pronunciation is – “Are-Ya” 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  13. […] Arya Sure That’s How It’s Pronounced? by Patrick Sponaugle : Pat discusses how book readers pronounced GoT character names in this hilarious post. *sigh* Reader problems. […]


  14. Ahhh I’m so glad someone else is blogging about this. One of my eventually to be published drafts talks about this phenomenon, too! I pronounced it AR-ya like your “Are ya going to bed,” until I saw the show. Catelyn was Katelyn, and I’m shocked Bran garnered any argument. Sansa I went back and forth on. I initially said it SANN-suh where the first syllable rhymed with the Ann, but that could also be because I’m from PA, and our vowels can be terrible. I like SAHN-sa much better. I’m surprised there was so mention of Cersei though! Prior to the show, I said it like sir-SIGH not SIR-see same as Circe the character in Greek (?) mythology whom I believe antagonized Odysseus (forgive me if I’m mixing up my mythologies). I’ve also heard several pronunciations of Aerys and Danaerys (don’t get me started on the former as it sounds similar to a name in my favorite fandom and THAT’S a gigantic argument and a tangent we don’t deserve), but I say the latter as day-NAIR-us, but I’ve hear dan-AIR-ease, as well. Can’t think of anymore for the moment, but I shall surely continue my goal of reading all of your GoT posts!


    • Thanks for the feedback and the breakdown of how you say the names.

      You’re right, I totally omitted Cersei (I think GRRM calls her sir-SAY)

      I have a bizarre admission, I’d recently reread Lord of the Rings, and the names that start with “C” are always pronounced with a hard “K” sound (Celeborn is pronounced Kell-a-born, etc.)

      Since I had that in my head, I internally pronounced Cersei as Kur-see.


  15. Oh! Just remembered this on! Margaery was MAR-ga-ree because I was following the “g” pronunciation rules and there’s an “a” in from of the “e,” which should make it hard; however it seems the ignore that rule in the show. This is why I I include a pronunciation guide in my stories 🙂


  16. gameofthroatsblog says:

    I admit, I pronounced Catelyn as Kate-lynn for the longest time. I also go back and forth between Sahn-sa and San-sa (although I usually prefer the former). I pronounced Brienne as Brianne for the longest time, too, until I realized that if it was pronounced like Brianne it would have been spelled that way. Now I pronounce it Bree-in.

    I loved this post! The title particularly is clever. My dad, who only watches the show, constantly mispronounces names and I have to correct him. He pronounces Cersei as Sare-say, and Daenerys as Duh-nare-ee-ez. It’s madness!


  17. I already knew another Tyrion so I had that one easy:

    When it comes to pronunciation, book to show they can do what they want. It becomes the canon pronunciation. My problem is when you take a TV show and make a movie, and change the pronunciation. That should not stand. And that’s exactly what happened with the show Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the movie by M. Night Shyamalan. My theory? He never watched the show, only read some episode scripts. So we got his “book pronunciation,” only for a TV show adaptation.

    There are reasons that never got a sequel…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. […] They honestly flip flop with pronunciation quite a bit, something that’s been pointed out in this clever entry by Patrick Sponaugle Arya Sure That’s How It’s Pronounced? I feel like doing a […]

    Liked by 1 person

  19. […] They honestly flip flop with pronunciation quite a bit, something that’s been pointed out in this clever entry by Patrick Sponaugle Arya Sure That’s How It’s Pronounced? I feel like doing a […]

    Liked by 1 person

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