Hello, is this Mrs. Deh...(voice trails off)?

New (and occasionally old) acquaintances don't typically attempt to pronounce my name. Most jump ship after the first syllable.* I don't blame them, actually.

It is often assumed that librarians know how to pronounce the names of authors. I can understand the assumption, given that we writers and librarians are all in the book biz and everything. But, like teachers doing roll call or telemarketers making cold calls, we're not automatically bestowed with knowledge of the ways people pronounce their names.

Sometimes we can go to their website, and the author will have answered the question in their FAQs. Janet Evanovich is pronounced /e VAUGHN o vich/ like LAWN, which was intuitive to me, and although I started by saying /JOE dee pee COLT/, Jodi Picoult is pronounced /joe dee pee COH/.

This is not the easiest method, and sometimes misleading. The official Roald Dahl website provides a recorded interview with the author from 1988, for example, but never pronounces his name. The fan website gives the Norwegian /rule doll/ but most other websites give the anglicized /rolled doll/.

For an excellent pronunciation guide to the names of authors, turn to TeachingBooks, where several authors have recorded themselves saying their names, and occasionally give a brief background story about their name. Tamora Pierce (rhymes with camera, not /ta MORE ah/ as most people say), for example, gives the story about the mixup with her birth certificate.

For a hilarious guide to pronunciation, revisit the classic essay by the now National Ambassador for Young People's literature, Jon Scieszka.

In other pronunciation news, see the 50 Incorrect Pronunciations That You Should Avoid from Daily Writing Tips.

*I did have a non-family member correct me on how to pronounce my last name once. But to his credit, he made it sound like a lovely name.

No comments: