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Most obviously used in the pern books - but I don't know if that's actually where it was started.

Annie is the earliest usage for lots of characters that I can think of.  She's pretty moderate about what she does with it though. -- Senji

To differentiate main characters from everyone else, those who ride dragons get names with a single letter, then an apostophe, then four or five letters, which may contain a verb.

Surely you mean 'vowel'.  Also, some of them are longer than that (F'lessan springs to mind, the brat). -- Senji

Such a F'nar and T'lon.

How you are supposed to pronounce these is left as an excercise for the reader.  My personal opinion is "You aren't"  (Oh, ok - I think it as a long syllable of the letter, then the next part.  So Fff-Gnarr and Tuh-Lon, not Phnarr and Talon.)

The background would suggest that the answer is 'whatever is quickest to think'. -- Senji

Long time since I read the books, but isn't it a contraction?  e.g. T'lon used to be Talon or T___lon and when becoming a dragon rider, the name is contracted. - Kazuhiko

Aye.  But the origin (according to the prequels) of the contraction was that the Dragons used shortened forms of names because they were easier to think easily.  -- Senji

As an aside - in the dreamcast "Dragon Riders of Pern" game - there is a character named Anne, who wonders aloud why the names are done so strangely, and who laments that she cannot write books because she must spend her whole life making porridge - but she will get her friends to help her and they'll say the books were all written by the same person.  (Ok, I made that last bit up - but the names books and porridge bit are real)

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