Out of all the names of characters and places in my books, this is the one people ask me about the most. Ixchel is a great character to write, and I’m looking forward to seeing how her story continues. But how do you say her name?
The answer is… not as easy as it seems.
You can literally google “how do you pronounce ixchel” and you’ll get multiple answers.
This video, for example, pronounces it the way it’s spelled in English:
But this video pronounces it more like “ee-shell”:
Ixchel is a Mayan name. The culture of her land and people in my books is loosely based on the ancient Maya. So logically, the best guide to it would be an explanation of how the Mayans pronounced it, right?
If you read that, you’ll find that “ee-shell” is close, but… it actually ends up something more like “eesh-chail” including the “ch” sound and pronouncing the “e” as a long “a.”
So which one is right?
It’s a fantasy novel, with names and cultures that I created. I’m sort of the final arbiter here. Except… it may come to a huge surprise to readers that I don’t always pronounce the names in my head while writing them. And since I was raised on American phonics, when I do pronounce names from other languages, I often do it completely wrong.
I like “ee-shell.” And “eesh-chail” is a bit too cumbersome for my tongue. But you know what? You can pronounce it however you choose. I won’t mind.
But I’d better start getting it right myself. She scares me.