Hal pronounces it exactly as written - as it it were spelled Esfeni - but his father Tom goes for the more Yiddish pronunciation, Eshpheni, almost Eshphveni. Both have extensive experience with these alien overlords, so both would be in a good position to know how to pronounce their name. Who is right, father or son?
It's tempting to think Tom is right, and Hal is doing the same thing to Eshphveni as Barry White did to "shtick" in his 1973 hit, "Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up," where he sang out, "Quittin' just ain't my stick." Not to beat the late, great Barry over the head with a stick about this, but that's a pretty bad (in a bad way) rendition of shtick, tantamount to saying someone is a "smuck" when you mean he's a "schmuck".
It's also reminiscent to me of the mispronunciation of a friend's name, Wachtel, in which the "ch" is supposed to be pronounced the same as the "ch" in Chanuka, itself often mispronounced Hanukah. Lots of people, who can't do that "ch" sound, pronounce Wachtel's name as if it were spelled Watchtel - like a watch. Others go for "Wacktel," as if it were spelled "Woktel," like a wok. Some just give up completely and go for Wa'tel, which does have an adventurous Arabic flavor.
But back to Falling Skies, how can we find out the right way to pronounce Espheni? The Volm pronounce it the way Tom does, but they're are not a reliable resource, because they have their own issues with the murderous aliens. Neither are humans who have been taken over by them, since that happened to Tom and Hal, and the two have such distinctly different pronunciations.
We could look for an Espheni pronouncing his or her own name - that is, the name of their people - but, alas, the alien species is apparently not able to vocalize, except for a grunt or two when they're wounded.
I think I'm going to go with Tom's pronunciation. He's after all the father. And Weaver pronounces it like Tom, too. And Hal's pronunciation also reminds me of another friend, who years ago said he wanted to get a nosh in perfect pronunciation, but then blew it by saying he was in the mood for a "nish," that delicious potato concoction otherwise pronounced "knish" with the "k" and the "n" both prominent.
See also Falling Skies 4.1: Weak Start ... Falling Skies 4.2: Enemy of my Enemy ... Falling Skies 4.3: Still Falling ... Falling Skies 4.5: Cloudy ...Falling Skies 4.7: Massacre Indeed ... Falling Skies 4.8: Spike
And see also Falling Skies 3.1-2: It's the Acting ... Falling Skies 3.3: The Smile ... Falling Skies 3.4: Hal vs. Ben ... Falling Skies 3.6: The Masons ...Falling Skies 3.7: The Mole and a Likely Answer ... Falling Skies 3.8: Back Cracked Home ... Falling Skies Season 3 Finale: Dust in Hand
And see also Falling Skies Returns ... Falling Skies 2.6: Ben's Motives ... Falling Skies Second Season Finale
And see also Falling Skies 1.1-2 ... Falling Skies 1.3 meets Puppet Masters ... Falling Skies 1.4: Drizzle ... Falling Skies 1.5: Ben ... Falling Skies 1.6: Fifth Column ... Falling Skies 1.7: The Fate of Traitors ... Falling Skies 1.8: Weaver's Story ... Falling Skies Concludes First Season
no mispronunciations here
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