36

In the movie Coraline all the side characters, Mr. Bobinksky, Ms. Fink and Forcible and Wybie, all call her Caroline even though she clearly tells them her name.

This seems to annoy her to the extent that even the Other Mother notices, who makes sure that people call her by her proper name in the Other world.

Is there an explanation to why everyone mispronounces her name? Was that just in the movie or does that also happen in the book?

  • Everybody calls her Caroline, but mr Bobinksky tells her the mice calls her Coraline even he thinks it is wrong. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jan 6 '16 at 20:32
57

They call her Caroline (in both the book and the film) because the slightly dotty people who live in the house simply can't believe that her name is Coraline. You may wish to note that the name Caroline is a very common one whereas Coraline is incredibly rare.

They were evidently told her name before she arrived, but seem to have come the conclusion that it was a typo.


Within the book she is (initially) very quiet and timid in correcting the various people who populate the house when they get her name wrong.

“One day, little Caroline, when they are all ready, everyone in the whole world will see the wonders of my mouse circus. You ask me why you cannot see it now. Is that what you asked me?”
“No,” said Coraline quietly, “I asked you not to call me Caroline. It’s Coraline.”

And it probably doesn't help matters that she regularly answers to Caroline.

“Ahoy! Caroline!” called the crazy old man upstairs.
“Oh, hullo,” said Coraline.

Later on she becomes more forceful and they start getting her name right.

“It’s Coraline, Mister Bobo,” said Coraline. “Not Caroline. Coraline.”
“Coraline,” said Mr. Bobo, repeating her name to himself with wonderment and respect.


Gaiman offered his own thoughts on the name in the 'talking points' at the rear of the ebook edition.

How did you think up the name “Coraline”?

It was from typing “Caroline” and it was coming out wrong. Larry Niven, the science fiction author, said in an essay that writers should treasure their typing mistakes. Once I typed it, I knew it was somebody’s name, and I wanted to know what happened to her.

I recently discovered it was actually a real name, although it’s not been used much in English-speaking countries for a long time. And, at the turn of the last century, it was a name for a brand of corset.

29

Because that's what happens when you have a name very close to a more well-known name.

I know a Carolyn who has frequently been called "Caroline" her entire life.

People are dumb.

  • 1
    Heh. I see someone disagrees with the "People are dumb" part too. – Mr Lister Jan 6 '16 at 13:20
  • 4
    must have been one of those 'people' – user13267 Jan 6 '16 at 13:48
  • 3
    +1 (and more, if I could) for this answer. My own name lacks merely an "n" to be a common one, and all the trouble I've had - including being told I've misspelled my own name, from those who should have known better. Yes, people are dumb, and kinda vicious about holding on to their misconceptions – Megha Jan 6 '16 at 20:59
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    For Carolyn (rhymes with "inn") vs. Caroline (rhymes with "line") specifically, it doesn't help that there are people out there who spell their name one way but insist on the other pronunciation. – Martha Jan 6 '16 at 23:46
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    @Martha Reminds me of a certain gentleman named Raymond Luxury Yacht... youtu.be/tyQvjKqXA0Y – Dronz Jan 6 '16 at 23:58
6

To take a bit of a pretentious logic/linguistic route, we know from the real world that:

On the other hand, some English speakers mute many vowels, which could make both names sound like 'krln. If others learned of Coraline's name from such people, they would make an educated guess that the spelling should be Caroline.

0

They might have seen it written down and thought it was a typo. My first name is Maja (won't tell you my last name) and it's pronounced MY-uh, but when someone sees it written down they call me MAH-juh, or MAY-uh, and I find it really annoying.

  • I'd have assumed it was pronounced Maa-har. – Valorum Jan 7 '16 at 9:50
  • @Richard: As long as we're talking about peeves, I find it annoying when people from non-rhotic dialects transcribe non-rhotic vowels with an r. I mean, the r exists and represents something even if you personally don't pronounce it. Can't you represent vowel sound without resorting to a spelling that rhotic people definitely won't pronounce the way you intend? :) – ThePopMachine Jan 7 '16 at 19:51
  • @ThePopMachine - I'd like to point out that no-one has ever mis-pronounced my name, regardless of whether I've been speaking to people in Beijing, Gabon or Ulan Bator. – Valorum Jan 7 '16 at 19:58
  • @Richard: I was referring to your spelling 'Maa-har', where I presume that you wouldn't expect a rhotic person to pronounce 'Maja' with an r sound at the end. So 'Maa-har' isn't a good choice to transcribe what you meant. – ThePopMachine Jan 7 '16 at 22:32

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