You say paLADin, I say PALadin

What is so hard to pronounce about the word “paladin”?

I do not exaggerate when I say that probably 50% of all people I’ve ever played D&D with pronounce it puh-LAD-in. I used to fanatically correct them, but now I don’t generally bother. What’s alarming is not that people pronounce it incorrectly; it’s that years of exposure to the incorrect pronunciation of the word is starting to finally get to me: in my most recent D&D game, I came this close to saying it myself.

Gaming has a bizarre sort of vocabulary, so I suppose it’s not too surprising that a lot of that vocabulary tends to get mispronounced. A few examples from my own storied gaming career:

  • for at least several years after I was first introduced to the term, I pronounced elite as “ee-light.”
  • I also pronounced melee as “mee-lee” for many, many years. In fact, I’ll be honest: I still don’t really know how to pronounce that word. I usually aim for a vaguely sophisticated, French-sounding “may-lay.”
  • one friend of mine (who is hopefully not reading this blog) consistently pronounced “salvo” as “slave-oh.” That’s not so much a mispronunciation as a complete misreading of the word. I never outright corrected him because I didn’t want him to lose face, but I did try to conspicuously use the word “salvo” in conversation (not the easiest task in the world) in an effort to correct him. To this day, I don’t know if it worked or not.
  • and of course, there’s the classic “My character is a level 5 halfling rouge.” That’s one I see spelled incorrectly all the time, although most people pronounce it properly in spoken dialogue.
  • (I won’t even get into “Cthulhu” and his ilk, because those are supposed to be unpronounceable.)

Any classic wordplay goofs that I’m missing?

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5 thoughts on “You say paLADin, I say PALadin

  1. Gamer

    I STILL say melee as mee-lee, because:

    1. I’ve always said it this way.
    2. It makes sense how it’s spelled in English.

    Also, I say PALadin too, but my friend doesn’t and he said at one time he did, but when he said it at a DnD game they corrected them. Is there even a right way to say it?

  2. Andy

    Haha! Yeah, I think that “paladin” may be one of those words whose actual correct pronunciation has been lost in the mist of time…

    Glad there’s somebody else out there proudly pronouncing it “mee-lee”!

  3. Robbeh

    Found your post while googling how to pronounce “melee”.

    Funnily, I pronounce it, “pa-LAH-din”, like you despise. 😛 Although my dictionary tells me that it should be, “paludin” without stress.
    Back onto melee, well, the gaming term is derived from the French… Mêlée and I’m with you. I’ve always done it, “meh-lay” — sounds like Malay after a while.

  4. A Sad Girl

    I’ve pronounced “melee” as “may-lee.” I don’t know if it’s correct. And I’ve always pronounced “paladin” as “PAL-a-din…” I’m quite emberassed.

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