Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I now pronounce you incorrectly

I bought a book by Andre Dubus on the weekend and spent the train trip home wondering how to pronounce his name. "Dub-us"? "Do-boos"? Turns out it's "Duh-byoose" (thanks, Google). Armed with this information I can now wade into any conversations about Andre Dubus that might crop up at dinner parties or on the bus, confident that I'll at least get his name right. Now all I have to do is find somebody who wants to have a conversation about Andre Dubus.

Whilst searching for Dubus-pronunciation assistance I came across a post at The Millions which features a fairly comprehensive list of hard-to-pronounce literary names. The only revelatory pronunciation listed is that of Donald (and, presumably, Frederick) Barthelme, which is apparently "BAR-tuhl-mee" rather than the more prosaic (and sensible) "BAR-thelm". Other than that I appear to be pronouncing most of the listed writers' names correctly, or close enough. (I'm still not sure if it's "kut-see" or "curt-see".) I was also pleased to see that mispronunciations I once employed are apparently common. For years I said "woad-house" rather than "wood-house", "thuh-row" when it's actually "thuh-roo", and "bore-jez" when it is, of course, "bore-has". I still don't know how to pronounce "Goethe", but neither does anybody else. "Goat" seems to get the point across.

7 comments:

Kirsty said...

I've always rhymed Goethe with Werther ie Gur-tuh and Vur-tuh. But don't take my word for it because your post has revealed that I've been pronouncing all the other names incorrectly. There goes all my self-righteousness about people mispronouncing my name.

Jo said...

I was mid-way through a university presentation when I realised I'd never said "Baudrillard" out loud before.
I coughed in the middle.
I don't think anyone noticed.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Overheard two young scholars earnestly discussing Michel Foucault: Michael Fuck't. Also, I am lobbying to have the Dumas in Alexandre Dumas pronounced as in "dumb ass".

Beth said...

I amused my English honours class ENDLESSLY by consistently, loudly and proudly talking about Georgie Borgies. I figured if I didn't know how to pronounce it correctly, I could be confident about my inability to pronounce it incorrectly. There was real satisfaction in that.

Imani said...

I want to talk about Dubus! Which collection did you get?

Tim said...

It's a collection of novellas called We Don't Live Here Anymore.

Elizabeth said...

We just launched a new site for pronoucing names. What a great idea to add literary names! www.howtosaythatname.com