Fantasy Name Parity Linguistics

It’s hard to specify specifically what the main protagonistic characters in fantasy novels and video games are, but here’s an approximation.

Harry Potter: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, Luna, Dumbledore (Source: CC)

Lord of the Rings: Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Boromir (picked list as Fellowship of the Ring)

Jurassic Park: Grant, Sattler, Malcolm, Hammond, Muldoon, Arnold, Gennaro (Source: xkcd)

Mario: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Yoshi (Source: Wikipedia, verified with other members of Desmond)

Sonic: Sonic, Tails, Amy, Knuckles (Source: Wikipedia, verified with Lewis)

Fire Emblem: Marth, Roy, Ike (Source: Wikipedia)

Pokémon: Ash, Misty, Brock, May, Max, Dawn, Oak, Pikachu, Joy, Jenny (Source: characters I can think of from the TV series)

Notice something very interesting. There seems to be a humongous preference for an odd number of letters in names. Grey indicates the even-letter-quantity names, of which you can see are very sparsely distributed. So here’s the question: are odd-letter-quantity names just more common (and if so, why?), and if not, why is there this apparent preference for them in fantasy?

Actually, there’s been a couple of counterexamples I ran across:

Starcraft: Raynor, Kerrigan, Fenix, Tassadar, Aldaris, Zeratul, Mengsk (Source: Lewis)

Star Wars: ObiWan, R2D2, C3PO, Yoda, Leia, Luke, Chewie, Han, Jabba, Boba (Source: xkcd)

Even with these, though, the quantities are worth mentioning.

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3 thoughts on “Fantasy Name Parity Linguistics

  1. Dumbledore has an even number of characters (currently written in black which means odd).

    Hm I once tried with Mario and Sonic only; a bunch of characters, not necessarily protagonist, are 5-letter words. But if you only consider antagonists, seems like 6-letter words is somewhat more common than usual to the point that it’s rather similar in number woth 5-letter antagonists.

    Also just to complete. Pokemon Season 14-15 (running, based on BW and B2W2) has two new protagonists Iris and Cilan. If you want to keep going, you can mention every species that helps Ash, but I doubt you want to go that far 😛

    Next, I’d say Cream is a protagonist (but ridiculously underused; I think last protagonist use is in Sonic Rush) in Sonic. Ah okay Sonic Rush: Blaze is a protagonist that appears in several (read: 2 protagonistic role, a few side-character role) games; Silver is somewhat protagonist; Marine is as helpful as Cream (aka not much).

  2. Gennaro and Hammond are antagonists of Jurassic Park!

    1. I have never watched Jurassic Park before, so I used the xkcd plotline and contacted a friend who told me that Nedry was an antagonist and Hammond is listed as an antagonist on Wikipedia but his status is really disputable. In the case that that is, though, perhaps changing this to just character names in general works. I personally like it when protagonistic/antagonistic quality of characters is at least slightly unclear.

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