Taprobane, the classical name for Sri Lanka, is pronounced ``tap-ROB-a-nee,'' says Clarke; many hurried moderns act like it was English, saying ``TAP-ro-BAIN.'' I have trouble seeing that, but I've always been good with pronunciation. I can explain this skill for Chinese and Indian, languages first written in Roman letters in the 19th and 20th centuries; the language hasn't had time to build anomalies. It's even hard for a syllable to stretch more than four letters. The worst menace most names offer is length and not falling into iambic emphasis. But why does it work for Czech names?
I can't guess why I'm typically above-average pronouncing names; way back in Catholic Bible School I was inevitably picked to give readings from the Bible since the names wouldn't throw me. ``Jehozadak''? ``Nebuchadnezzar''? ``Mephibosheth''? It took years to realize people were afraid of the names. My biggest problem tends to be people who've Anglicized their names, so they're pronounced like the letters fall, not like they're spelled.
I mentioned The Fountains of Paradise feels more like history than fiction each read; it feels more contemporary than ever this time -- it's set in the 22nd century, but feels like 2007. Run across a stretch of geosynchronous tower builder Vannevar Morgan reviewing his Personal Interest Profile -- the subjects news about which is to be gathered -- and one notices the only science fiction in it is people keep their list up-to-date.
Some people wait for news of ``Eggs, dinosaur, hatching of,'' ``Circle, squaring of,'' or ``World, end of,'' which sounds about right. Average interests lists run around 50 items; people who ``must spend all their waking hours battling with the flood of information'' have hundreds, and I'm sure not a single person on Livejournal has any idea of that feeling.
Trivia: The 1066 appearance of Halley's Comet was first observed in England on 24 April, and lasted for a week. Source: ``The Norman Conquest,'' Kenneth M. Setton, National Geographic August 1966.
Currently Reading: The Fountains of Paradise, Arthur C Clarke.