[Ads-l] The pronunciation of the surname, _Spann_

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 9 20:33:54 EDT 2016

On Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 3:18 PM, Paul A Johnston, Jr <paul.johnston at wmich.edu
> wrote:

> Blues pianist Otis Spann (one of my favorites) was [spaen], like span,
> wasn't he?

That's what I've heard, as of the '73 Michigan Jazz Festival, when the
late, great Ivan Sag pronounced it "span." Before that time, I'd seen the
name only in print and I assumed that it was pronounced "spawn."

There are people who pronounce Elvis's surname as "Prezley," but that
existence of the common alternative spelling, "Pressley," which matches
Elvis's own pronunciation of his surname, argues against that.

If only the late, great Warren had spelled his surname as "Spahnn"!

OTOH, Googling - which I should have done in the first place, instead of
bothering other people, reveals the existence of the surnames, _Sponn_ and
_Sponne_, either of which is close enough for government work.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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