In the first few series of Game of Thrones Arya's name was pronounced Arryah (leading to her name 'arry).

However towards the end of series four (particularly the fight with Brienne and The Hound) her name is pronounced Aiyaa (even Maisie Williams her character introduces herself this way).

Is there any reason between this change of pronunciation?

  • 2
    I also noticed that Aidan Gillen (Baelish) sounded more Irish in the later seasons, I know he is Irish but I thought it was a bit weird
    – EdChum
    Feb 23, 2015 at 11:21
  • @EdChum I assumed that was him adopting a more lordly persona
    – Liath
    Feb 23, 2015 at 11:29
  • Perhaps a simple mistake when it came to editing? I mean producers ect not noticing or picking it up Feb 23, 2015 at 11:54
  • You mean verbal pronunciation. If a Indian was in GoT, he would call her Aa-rr-yya. Accents I guess. She is with mutually exclusive people as the story proceeds Feb 23, 2015 at 12:13
  • 1
    @KharoBangdo true - but that doesn't explain why Maisie Williams (the actress) pronounced her name different
    – Liath
    Feb 23, 2015 at 13:01

1 Answer 1


I'll attempt a complete guess at an in universe explanation.

The Game of Thrones wiki comments:

..."Arya" is pronounced "ARE - yuh". George R.R. Martin himself has pointed out that a surprisingly large number of people pronounce it incorrectly: it consists of two syllables, not three (like how the "aria" of an opera is pronounced). Martin explained: "I say it 'Are-ya', two syllables not three. Not 'are-ee-uh', not like an operatic thing, but 'Are-ya', very sharp. I wanted something that was like a knife, that was a sharp and hard sound, to be a contrast to the flowery 'Sansa'."

They refer to this video as their citation.

What I'm interested in is the last section - to be a contrast to the flowery Sansa. When we first meet Arya, she's the tomboy of Winterfell - but is still in Winterfell and being brought up as a lady. Much like Sansa is a very flowery name, perhaps Arya was encouraged to over pronounce her name to give it a more feminine, dainty feel.

However, with the loss of her family and with her becoming more and more wild, she fell back on her preferred, less sweet-sounding pronunciation and has stuck with it ever since!

As for an out of universe explanation... She's a young woman who has filmed all across the world, probably picking up various bits of regional dialect along the way. Perhaps she didn't know the real pronunciation to begin with. Perhaps George RR Martin had other things to concern himself with and didn't care. I can't find any interviews which suggest she deliberately change her pronunciation, so I'm going to say it's simply an incidental thing.

  • In one of the DVD commentaries (I forget which, but I think it must be one that post-dates your video, as I think GRRM's comments on the name are brought up) where it's just Maisie and Sophie they end up talking about this, saying how you're supposed to say it as "Are ya". They call this an American pronunciation, and Sophie affects a yokel American accent to demonstrate it (something like "Are ya kidding me?") This I think supports your out-of-universe explanation, as evidently it was an unnatural way to say anything to the many UK natives in the cast. Apr 24, 2019 at 7:13

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