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Mr. Jonathan Teatime's name is, as specified in the book Hogfather, pronounced "Teh-ah-tim-eh".

“It’s pronounced Teh-ah-tim-eh, sir,” said Teatime, with just a hint of reproach. “Everyone gets it wrong, sir.”

But since there's no marks of pronunciation included, its pronunciation is still under question.

The TV adaptation seems to get it entirely wrong, pronouncing it "Tea-uh-timey".

Personally I've always pronounced it to rhyme and match stress of syllables as "anathema" ( ə-năthˈə-mə - updated with better marks).

Is there a canon statement from Pterry on its pronunciation? Something from an interview, perhaps?

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    As a french reader, I have no idea. But for sharing an anecdote, the french translation adds a clever pun on this name. Teatime is called "Leureduthé" (= the tea time, with a little mispell) , but the assassin wants everybody to call him "Le redouté" (= the feared one). The pronunciation is really similar ; one syllable only is slightly different when pronunced.. I just learn now there was no pun in the original version :) Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 16:25
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    You're not the only person to wonder about this. For the record, it's much better in the French translation (edit: argh! ninja'd by @ProfesseurDronte :-D )
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 16:25
  • :D ... It's not perfectly canon, but it would be interesting to look on the audiobook version Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 16:32
  • @Randal'Thor - would you believe it, that was me as well. Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 17:01

2 Answers 2

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The pronunciation in the Nigel Planer audiobook is pretty much as written in the text, with short hard syllables, and the 2nd and 4th syllables stressed.

Note that the narrator refers to him as "teatime" throughout.


A similar pronuncation is seen in the made-for-TV miniseries

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  • Do you have a replacement video for the dead link?
    – Spencer
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 17:34
  • @Spencer - Both links are now working. It looks like you need to click the "watch on youtube" link on the second one as "Playback on other websites has been disabled by the video owner"
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 17:36
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I had assumed the pronunciation mimics a posh, over-the-top accent, when I read the German version. In it, the name is "Kaffeetrinken". The word "Kaffee" (coffee, if you couldn't tell), has different pronunciations in use, one with a long /e:/, and one with a short /e/, almost a schwa under the breath of the /f/, and various alternative spellings such as Café, Cafe or Kaffe, spelling pronounciation: /ˈkafə/. The later is probably the more common pronunciation for the beverage, but Jonathan Kaffeetrinken insists his name be pronounced "Kaf-feh-trin-ken".

The phonetic spelling first appears when he is served by an attendant (or a valet?), hence an expression of arrogance does seem to fit the character. I can't explain the difference very well, that would be due on German.SE, but I have no doubt that "common" and "elite" is the intended contrast.

In English, for no discernable reason, you spell /ti:/ "tea" as if /*ti.a/. The linguistic reality of such a pronunciation is questionable, though I consider it likely on account of Pratchett's usage alone. See also the in-sewer-ants "insurance" joke from A Hat Full of Sky, which is chiefly phonetic and based in reality.

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    Personally, I'd understand this from an American angle (think Seth MacFarlane riffing on "programmee" or "whip cream" in Family Guy), Doctor Who's timey-wimey-wibbly-wobbly kind of joshing around and Hugh Laurie memes (see)
    – vectory
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 19:25
  • When I read it I ignored the "Teh-ah-tim-eh" and let my inner voice read it as teatime
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 20:27
  • @Danny3414 if you mean reading the regular spelling regularly, then that's intended. The phonetic spelling does not appear very often anyhow.
    – vectory
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 21:56
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    @vectory For the more likely inspiration, see Mrs Bucket (pronounced bouquet) from the British sitcom Keeping Up Appearances. Someone with an embarrassing name trying to make it sound posh.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 10:07
  • @OrangeDog I did say " an expression of arrogance does seem to fit the character.“ and “I can't explain the difference very well […] but I have no doubt that "common" and "elite" is the intended contrast.” If you have a special reading of the phonetic transcription in mind, please post your own answer to let us know.
    – vectory
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 20:11

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