Pronouncing names; was Re: "Business takes Vi[z]a"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 18 05:13:34 UTC 2008

It's often the case that you can't tell how someone's name is
pronounced without a scorecard. After I'd lived in the relative North
long enough to lose control of my native East-Texas dialect, I went
back Down Home, where I was amazed to discover that Collis spelled his
name "Carlos." Later, in Los Angeles, I met another guy called
"Collis." People kept asking me why I called him "Carlos." It turned
out that his name really was "Collis"!

A Saint Louis classmate called "Way-vell" spelled his name "Wavill."

You never know.


On Sun, Aug 17, 2008 at 4:33 PM, Barbara Need <bhneed at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Barbara Need <bhneed at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Pronouncing names; was Re: "Business takes Vi[z]a"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I certainly know an Aleesha (spelled Alicia). I have realized,
> however, that I wouldn't know how to pronounce it unless the person
> with that name told me! A-li-si-a sounds foreign to me. (I.e., not
> English.)
> My sister (Laura) once complained that people on the Boston North
> Shore could not pronounce her name properly. When I checked, she said
> I did it right, and  I say Lora (or something like that. I don't know
> what the pronunciation is that she objected to.
> Barbara
> Barbara Need
> Chicago
> On 17 Aug 2008, at 14:04, Doug_Harris wrote:
>> I was (and remain) under the impression that parents
>> are largely responsible, in the beginning, anyway, for
>> how their kids' names are pronounced. Regardless of
>> class or other considerations, parents may and do decide
>> a Lisa should be a Leeza or a Leesa (or is that LIza and
>> LIsa?), or Andrea, AnDREA-ah or even an AHN-dre-ah. And
>> I've heard Alicia pronounced as if it were Aleesha --
>> similar to the Marcia / Marsha pronunciation.
>> With most such names, the pronouncer has a 50/50 chance
>> of getting it right. With many other names, namely some
>> of those that most often are attached to blacks, even
>> after having _heard_ it pronounced, it's not hard to
>> imagine the name-giver got an unfortunate assortment of
>> letters in his or her alphabet soup bowl.
>> dh
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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