Poll: How Do You Pronounce Amberle?

“Amberle Elessedil” by artist David Cherry

Over the years, pronunciation has been an interesting aspect of Terry’s work.

Fans write in all of the time asking how to pronounce Terry’s names for characters, places, and the like. It’s never easy to answer these. Terry doesn’t believe in telling his fans how to pronounce anything. He feels quite strongly that once you have the book and it is open in front of you, you have to meet him half way and make some decisions on your own.

That said, with the news about The Elfstones of Shannara possibly being adapted for television, people will have a pronunciation spoken on television that may or may not line up with what they think.

So my poll this Friday is:

How do you pronounce Amberle?

There are two distinct ways that I’ve heard spoken by Terry and fans over the years. I’m curious what you say?

And since we have quite a few fans who are named after Amberle, I’d like them to comment below how their parents pronounced it.


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77 responses to “Poll: How Do You Pronounce Amberle?”

  1. My wife says Amber Lee, even though I’m still pushing her to at least read one of his books, besides Imaginary Friends. I was more along the lines of Am Berl but it never quite sounded right to me. I voted Amber Ley as I feel the name would need to be spelled Amberly to be Amber Lee,(ie. Kimberly, Beverly) or my daughter is named Kailee pronounced Kay Lee. Just what I see and besides I like to be the odd man out sometimes. 🙂

    How can we achieve World Peace, when no one can agree on the pronunciation of a single name?

    • I always read it as Am Berl too, but I never liked the way it worked like that. When I reread it recently I tried to read it like Am-Burr-Lay or Am-Burr-Lah, but it was a hard habit to break. My mind is all confused. I think the accents have to be right, and when they are, Amber Lay is the way to go.

  2. My argument in favor of Am-Berl is that if her first name ends with either a hard or soft “e”, it will be swallowed up by the “E” in Ellesedil, making her full name laborious to say. The same is true if the German “eh” is used.

    • I’ve only actually read a couple of the books. more often i listen to the audiobooks and in most of those there is no E in Ellesedil in their pronunciation, instead it is eh-less-eh-del; with that pronunciation they also use either Amber-lee or Amber-lay.

  3. I’m in the same boat as Mike. When I read Elfstones for the first time way back in middle school I didn’t know what to make of the name and just pronounced it Am-berl in my head. Now that I’m confronted with the question though, I like the sound of both Amber-lee and Amber-lay better, but the latter sounds a bit more Elvish to me. It just seems to flow better with Elessedil.

  4. I agree with Shawn as far as the spelling question is concerned It would need a y or some kind of accent to be “Amber Lee”. Similarly, I’d think that “Am Berl” would have no need for the e.
    Putting it with her surname “Amber Lay” sounds best with Elessedil. Amber Lee causes a pause, and Am Berl sounds too staccato and uncomfortable for an elven female name.

  5. Have almost always pronounced her name as Amber Lee (like Antigone) in my head, though once in a while it sort of morphs into Amber Lay. I think the trick for me is that the Lee or Lay part is sort of soft spoken so it can be sort of both at once.

    To me, Am Berl sounds awful. I would never want my name to sound like that. lol

  6. I always found it difficult in my head because names that end with the same vowel as the surname begins with always sound a bit awkward. I was always tempted to bring them together, like “Amber l’Essedil” because the “Le” of her first name and “Ele” of her surname was too repetetive and tongue-tie-ish for me. I ended up finding my mind would just say “am-BER-leh Ee-lessedil” to seperate the sounds out.

    I think it sounds pretty any way you look at it though – Amberl rhymes with pearl and Amber Lee sounds very modern but pretty.

  7. i have always thought it pronounced as Am berle as in pearl,don’t know why but it was the first pronounciation my head thought of and has stuck,but the same problem has arisen before with another fantasy book tv adapation with kahlan amnell so i think terry just needs to use his version.

  8. Amber Lee. I used to know a young woman who was named Amberle (yes, her parents were Terry Brooks fans), and that’s how she pronounced it. That was good enough for me.

  9. I read a first edition printing MANY years ago, newly released as a paperback. I read the entire book in one night, couldn’t stop as I read the final few chapters through blurry tears. It was the night before first day of school, to be a Sophomore. Anyway, her name gave me pause each time I came across it and I frequently wondered in my head how it was to be pronounced. More often than not, in the flow of that night, my brain told me…. : am-burl-lee…… would LOVE to know what Terry heard in his head 🙂

  10. If you listen to the audio book version of Elfstones, it is pronounced Amber-Lee. Totally not the way I’ve been saying it after all these years, but I thought that was the ‘official’ version.

  11. Personally I think that with her last name starting with an E it would make it much harder to say if her name had a Lee on the end. Also Amberle without an E sound at the end sounds much more elfish to me and different. If it is Amber Lee it could just be an asian girl. I am voting Am berl

  12. I read this when I was fairly young and mispronounced it as Amber-El. It always stuck and I still like it the best of everything I’ve ready above (of course I would, right?).

    • Haha, that’s awesome! My brain did the EXACT same thing the first time I read her name too! Even though it’s not spelled that way, that was the first pronunciation that came in my head, “Amber-El” and despite knowing that it’s not the way it’s spelled, it just kind of stuck with me all these years later. So, I still pronounce it “Amber-El” and depending on how you pronounce her last name, it has an almost melody-like flow to it 🙂

      ~Terra

  13. Amber Lee definitely. I’ve never even thought about pronouncing it any other way until I read this poll, and out of the three options I still think it fits best byl far!

  14. For me, personally, I think it’s pronounced “Amber Lee.” But seeing as I’ve never heard the name being spoken of in front of me and seeing as I am the first and most possibly the last generation in my family to be reading this series, because I still am reading it from where I last left off: the First King of Shannara. I personally cannot wait for the Televised version of the Elfstones of Shannara ^^
    Thank you for allowing me to give my opinion.

  15. Well, my parents named me Amberle and pronounce it Amber Lee… Part of me has always wondered if they pronounced it “right”. I have to admit, if they pronounce it differently in the TV show it’ll definitely be difficult to get used to!

  16. I’d always pronounced it Am-Berl in my head, due to the lack of any accent mark or additional vowel (or a ‘y’), the same way as I would pronounce Nicole or Michelle without making the last ‘e’ into its own syllable.

    • the logic for Michelle and Nicole in not applicable to Amberle. for Nicole, the e modifies the o into its long form and the pronunciation for Michelle is just the french pronunciation of feminized Michael.

  17. Exciting news about the interest in Elfstones story for tv! I hope it moves forward and comes into fruition. It is my favorite out of all of Terry’s wonderful novels. I plan to re-read it prior to release of Bloodfire Quest to refresh myself on Amberle’s quest with Wil Ohmsford. It looks like we’re in for a similar quest in Bloodfire!

    • That is a very good point. If there was a poll for Jerle, I don’t think anyone would vote, Jer Lee or Jer Lay. Jerlee, jerlee, jerlee, jerlee. Jerlay, jerlay, jerlay, jerlay. If i say the Berle, like how I say Jerle, it sounds much better in Amberle. But it just naturally comes out accented like burl in burly or curl in curly and Amburl just doesn’t sound pleasing. Now that I’ve written this, Amber-Lee is starting to sound weird. Amburly 🙁

  18. The syntactic form of the word “Amberle” strongly suggests an origin in the Romance languages (or at least non-Germanic European languages). Assuming a pseudo-etymology akin to this, “amber-LAY” is clearly the correct pronunciation. “Amber-LEE” just doesn’t seem right when there’s no indication (either by English etymology or that of any European language that I’m aware of) of the elongated vowel sound. “Am-berle” (English or French pronunciation) sounds like a perfectly valid alternative, as it at least obeys the phonetic laws of a few languages, more or less.

  19. The problem with a TV series is that Amberle and other names will be pronounced a certain way, and some of us will consider it the true way, no matter how much Terry says that the pronunciation is up to each reader.

  20. I always pronounced it Amber-Lay in my head, it just flowed better, but then again I did read the majority of The Ilse Witch pronouncing it “Isle” as in island until I paid attention to the spelling, so what do I know. I hope the TV series doesn’t butcher the books.

  21. The first time I read Elfstones, I pronounced it “Am Berl,” but I was never sure if that was right. One day I came across someone online who was trying to figure out the proper pronunciation of the name, and I found that “Amber-lee” sounded a bit better. It took a bit of getting used to, but now I think this pronunciation flows way better!

  22. I pronounce her name Amber Lay. Am Berl just sounds wrong! I’m about 30 pages from finishing Elfstones. I just read 2 chapters tonight and came to this website to look up Terry’s suggested reading order for first time readers. I’ve read other Shannara books but have started reading the story in order. Amber Lay as someone commented would sound more suited when using a word such as Elessedil.

  23. I have always pronounced it as Am ber lee, but with the accent on the Am, and not the lee. So it’s not Amber Lee, but AM ber lee. I have never thought of any other pronunciation until now. I kind of like Amber lay, but it may be hard for me to reprogram my mind : ). I don’t really like Am berl.

  24. I’ve had this discussion with a friend who’s also a huge Shannara fan, Amber-Lee vs Amburl, but I’m really liking the Amber-Lay pronounciation brought up in this poll. It definitely flows better, especially with the surname Elessedil. I may have to re-read Elfstones with that in mind!

  25. Am-Burl. Not very pretty but there’s no accent to make it Amberlay and Amberlee would require another e or a y at the end.

    Oh, and is it meant to be Shan-ara? I’ve alway said it Sha-nara!

    Shea I say Shay, but I remember a friend of mine saying it Shee-ah.

  26. There is absolutely NO way it can be Amber-Lee! As someone else pointed out, that is even wrong phonetically. And trying to make it go with her surname makes it even more of a stretch. To be honest, Amber-Lee had never entered my mind even as an option. It always has been and always will be Am-berle for me, BUT I do like the suggestion of Amber-El……that ending kind of goes with another certain assassin character from the series……

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