Mighty Red Pen

May 6, 2010

That famous book by na-BOE-kof

Filed under: Lit review,Pop culture,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:47 pm
Tags: ,

Okay, if you’re like MRP, then you grew up thinking that Nabokov was pronounced Na-bah-koff. Damn you, Sting and your “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”! Damn you!

So you will find this pronunciation guide handy. Learn the correct pronunciation of the names of 28 authors, including Chinua Achebe, J.M. Coetzee, and Paulo Coelho.

One commenter wrote, “I’m sorry, but certain of those pronunciations are guaranteed to yet you punched in the face if you use them.” And I know it’s terrible, but  I kind of think they have a point. In high school, MRP had an English teacher who made a point of telling us that Thoreau was not pronounced Tho-ro but more like Thorough. So I know that, but I just can’t bring myself to say it that way. Just as I can’t imagine myself going around saying, “I just read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult” and pronouncing it PEE-koo, as advised by this chart. Would anyone know who I’m talking about if I didn’t say Pih-COLT?

I didn’t see frequently mispronounced names Maya Angelou, J.P. Sartre, or P.G. Wodehouse here. Mister MRP mentions that his students often mangle Dostoyevsky, and Turgenev is no picnic, either. Anyone else they missed?

Hat tip to cinetrix.


  1. According to Pronounce Names dot com, you pronounce Henry David’s name with the “th” sound in “thin” and the “reau” sound is like “row.” I always remember his name is almost like “Oh pa-leeze tha-row Henry from the train.

    Comment by Steven Sawyer — May 6, 2010 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

  2. Hmmm, one of these things doesn’t go with the others…ah, there it is: Matt Groening. Love his cartoons but not sure he belongs in there with Thoreau, Nabokov etc.

    Comment by Craig Pittman — May 7, 2010 @ 8:28 am | Reply

  3. Although it wouldn’t show up in this list, I always cringe when someone says “Favre” as if it’s “Farve”. I just don’t understand it, even though that’s apparently how his family pronounces it. To me, it’s like saying “larnyx” when you mean “larynx.”

    Houellebecq looks like the runner-up in a contest to see who could put the largest number of unpronounced or misleading letters into a single word. (The winner, of course, being Mike Krzyzewski.) Not that I mean to make fun of people’s surnames; I know how annoying it quickly gets to have to spell your name two and three times in a row and still have it spelled wrong on paper.

    Andy Hollandbeck (AN-dee HALL-and-bek, not ahn-DEE WAY-yahng-bake).

    Comment by 4ndyman — May 7, 2010 @ 9:05 am | Reply

  4. […] feel slightly redeemed (again, no disrespect to Dan Brown) by the fact that this post was deemed to be written in the style of Vladimir Nabokov, who is actually mentioned in the […]

    Pingback by I write like . . . Dan Brown « Mighty Red Pen — July 20, 2010 @ 7:38 pm | Reply

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