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In American Gods, most of the characters pronounce the slavic name of Zorya (Vechernyaya/Utrenyaya) strangely.

  • [S1E2, 36:59] Wednesday says Zo-ra-ya Vyo-chen-ya-ya
  • [S1E2, 38:07] Zorya Vechernyaya calls her sister Zo-ra-ya Ut-re-ne-ya-ya
  • [S1E2, 44:58] Czernobog calls Zorya Vechernyaya as Zo-ra-ya Ver-che-nya-nya

And so on. In later episodes, they keep pronouncing Zo-ra-ya with different variations of the name Vechernyaya (always far off from how it should sound).

I wanted to assume that it is a deliberate choice, but in [S2E4, 21:17] Bilquis pronounces Zo-rya (how it is expected to be pronounced). And later in the same episode Mr. Nancy calls her again Zo-ra-ya.

Is it just a lazy production? Is it likely, that they did not notice? Or they did notice, but didn't think it is important?

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  • Haven't watch the series, but it's based on a book/series I think.so may be author intended to use Slavic in a different way, or something anyway, since it's US production, may be that's how they pronounce it
    – Vishwa
    Jun 29 '20 at 7:40
  • Pfft, it's not like any of this is even close to original.
    – Mithoron
    Jun 29 '20 at 18:48
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It is a bit of a speculative answer:

"Zorya" is definitely a two syllables word, so most likely it should be pronounced "ZOR -ya"

However, the reason for the mispronunciation most likely comes from her full name: Zorya Vechernyaya (Evening Star). The second part of her name, pronounced "ve-chEr-na-ya" (please, could a native Russian speaker correct me), begs to rhyme with "zo-ra-ya". It is called "forced rhyme" and people might make it subconsciously when they deal with unfamiliar words.

There might be also an in-story reason for it: the "forced rhyme" phenomenon might be actually happening in the world of the Zoria's sisters - Americans that live near them might have also problem with pronouncing their names correctly, hence with time "Zor-ya" changed her name into "Zo-ra-ya". Please notice, that the youngest sister pronounces her name correctly:

[Shadow] "You are Zo-ra-ya Pol... The sister that was sleeping?
[Zoria] "I am Zor-ya Polunochnaya, yes"

Zorya Polunochnaya would have the least contact with outside people, since she is sleeping during the day, so she wouldn't have to (or feel that she has to) change the pronunciation of her name.

On the other hand, she is played by the Polish actress, who would have less problems pronouncing Russian name.

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  • You're right about it being a two-syllable word - certainly no space in it to pronounce it the way they do in the series. I can also see it being pronounced with the accent on the first syllable as well (that's used for the plural form, usually). Jun 30 '20 at 4:46
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    I am a native Russian speaker. I would say, since Neil has chosen the spelling Zorya, it can be argued that stress is likely to be on the first syllable (in Russian we say zaRYA, but ZOri). The "surname" (which isn't surname, all 3 sisters have it different; it's just the part of their names like Jack Junior) is pronounced in Russian as "vi-chEr-nya-ya". I got the idea of forced rhyme though. Maybe actors collectively thought that the part of the names should rhyme and no one was there to correct them Jun 30 '20 at 9:53
  • @VasilyMitch Thank you for your input, I've corrected the accents. Out of curiosity, I've checked the pronunciation by the sisters themselves: Zorya Vechernyaya pronounced her name "Zor-ra-yah" while her youngest sister said the more correct "Zor-ya". This is most likely because Zorya Polunochnaya is played by a Polish actress. There might be also in-story reason for that (see modified answer)
    – Yasskier
    Jul 1 '20 at 21:39

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