Eighteen Aggner

My husband and I have always disagreed, with animation and conviction on both our parts, on the correct pronunciation of mauve. I remember reading 1984 in high school and asking my mom what a ren-days-vez was. "Huh? Oh! Ron-day-voo." (I felt quite lucky at the time to be spared any public humiliation and scorn for my mispronunciation. Many years later, here I am, blogging about it.) There are so many author's names that I encounter on a daily basis that I have no clue how to actually pronounce. Within my family, there are a couple different ways we pronounce our last name. D and I were talking/fantasizing about shoes today (particularly about these Anyi Lu shoes designed for support and fit) when she handed me the name Etienne Aigner on a piece of paper today and told me that her mother had always pronounced the name as "eighteen aggner." Needless to say, I had no idea who the woman was, but I knew I had to blog about pronunciation.

Pronunciation can be a tricky thing, especially when it comes to names and words imported from another language into English. (And, as in the above-mentioned situation, foreign names.) People who are familiar with languages are more apt to be able to intuit the etymology of words that are derived from foreign sources, but some of us might need a little help when it comes to certain words we are encountering in print for the first time.*

A few pronunciation tools
Merriam-Webster Online is an excellent first stop for most words. In a wise move on their parts, they provide the best pronunciation of mauve. YourDictionary is also a good first stop, but their audible pronunciation of mauve is a little less clearly in my favor.

Twelve years ago now, Jon Scieszka (author of excellent books, founder of Guys Read, and first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature) wrote this hilarious and helpful guide to difficult-to-pronounce names of authors and illustrators in the children's book circuit. The people at TeachingBooks had authors and illustrators record themselves saying their names for us to listen too. You can't get more authentic than that!

Zappos makes sure you can hear the names of certain designers being said, and the Wine Lexicon includes audible pronunciations of wines.

*And not necessarily words encountered for the first time. Do you say 'fort' or 'for-TAY'? According to M-W's usage note, you get to decide on that one.

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