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Monday, September 08, 2008

I am writing a script with a Hispanic character Jesus. What is the proper way to denote the pronunciation of his name? Here is what i currently have:
  • Jesus (pronounced HAY-SOOS) missed the meeting.
My first inclination would be to not name someone Jesus in a screenplay. It will be distracting on the page.

Try to avoid having anything in a screenplay that throws the reader out of the story. For example, don't name male characters "Leslie" or women characters "Joey." Yes, I know they did it in DAWSON'S CREEK. It's annoying in a spec script.

My second inclination would be to skip the explanation, since it in no way affects the story, and this is not a production script. So what if they pronounce it wrong in their head? Anyway, quite a few people in Los Angeles know how "Jesus" is pronounced.

If you absolutely must have an explanation, I'd rather see it in the action rather than in the dialog:
  • Jesus missed the meeting.

  • He pronounces the name in Spanish, "hay-sooss."
Especially if you can make it look like you're not telling the reader how to pronounce the name:
  • He pronounces the name in a horrible Texan accent, "Hay Soooss."



I have quite a few Jesuses. A lot of them pronounce it the American way.

In fact, many of my Latino kids choose to have American pronunciation of their names. Luis, Jorge, etc. The first day of school I have to ask them which way they want it.

My point is, you may not have to specify pronunciation at all.

By Blogger Emily Blake, at 3:55 PM  

It could also be done for comedic effect, either someone mispronouncing, and has to be corrected, or a "who's on first" kind of exchange:

Jesus missed the meeting.


No, it's "Haysoos".

What is?

His name.

What does He have to do with it?

You mean Jeesuz?

Christ, no. The other guy.

You get the idea...

For what it's worth, the spanish spelling is JESÚS. But I'm not sure 1) that would help anyone reading the script; or 2) accents can be used at all.

By Blogger daveednyc, at 9:41 PM  

Horrible Texan accent??? Well, I'm taking umbrage. I'll see you in Austin!

By Blogger probability, at 10:21 AM  

I've had a similar issue with a script based on real people, and just decided to spell a name phonetically.

It saves having to explain to the reader that 'Jan' is a perfectly good guy's name in Holland and it's pronounced 'Yan'. After all, nobody seeing the film would know. (Although the misspelling would annoy any readers familiar with Dutch)

'The Sound of Music' took this one step further and just renamed real people who had awkward names.


By Blogger Mac, at 6:27 AM  

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