Paulelmo's Blog

Hop on Pop

I so want it to happen, I do. First off, I want it to happen so I’ll know that this is just one more person that I don’t have to waste my time on, but even more than that I just want the satisfaction of the moment.

I digress. The MSN front page had one of those lists of commonly mispronounced words. I like these lists because I love knowing that I pronounce words correctly when they aren’t always, and I also like them because they often inform me that I’ve been pronouncing a word incorrectly, so I can amend my error.

This one had a little bit of both.

Most of the words on the list–electoral, mischievous, nuclear, often, realtor, and sherbet among them–were ones I already pronounce correctly, but am aware that others don’t.

Then, going by this article, there was one that I have been pronouncing incorrectly–and will probably continue to do so. I just don’t see any reason to begin pronouncing “forte” the same way I do “fort”, simply because everyone I know mispronounces it the same way, and it will just sound odd if I don’t. What’s more, I don’t have the time for the conversations inspired by the confusion of pronouncing it correctly. I can imagine conversations somewhat like this. “Yes, a lot of people like my Long Island Iced Teas; I guess it might be considered my fort (sic) as a bartender.” “Your what?” “My fort.” “What, are you a soldier?” No, my days are full enough without all of that.

This particular list of common mispronunciations had the one that is my focus here, which happens to be that the name Seuss, like the doctor man who wrote The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, is pronounced [Soice] or [Zoice] rather than how every single person who knows of the man–except for the not so humble compiler of that list apparently–pronounces it.

Who compiles such a list anyway? Is it someone who has grown tired of correcting others one at a time and discovered the Internet is a forum in which he or she can save time by correcting a whole bunch at once? A better question might be this: What I’m I doing giving my time to such a person? I’ll have to chew on that one for a bit.

But anyway, here this person is telling us that we’re mispronouncing the man’s name when we call him what everybody in the world calls him.

Invariably, the people who read these lists are the same people who do correct people who mispronounce words and speak with poor grammar. Also, these people are the same ones who just love to pass along information about things they’ve learned in something they’ve read or watched on TV.

That being so, I just know there are people who read this list and thought something to the effect of “Hmm, that’s how you pronounce it; I always thought it was Seuss–rhymes with “truce.”

I can also imagine that some of these people are going to go out into our world with the hopes of showing off this new little nugget of knowledge they’ve come across. Dr. Seuss, however, doesn’t come up in a lot of adult conversations, so it’s probably something that he or she will have to bring up themselves. They might say something like “One thing I miss about the children being small is reading Dr. Seuss–rhymes with “voice”–to them.” The person with whom they are speaking will say something to the effect of “Soice, (sic) I don’t think I know that writer.”

They will then explain that they mean the writer the rest of us know as Suess by mentioning certain books no doubt. They will do this with the hopes that the other person will say that he or she has always heard it pronounced the way we’ve always pronounced it. And then they’ll they’ll pounce; the door will be open for them to tell just how they came about this impressive little tidbit of impressive knowledge, pointing out just how incredibly special they are, but entirely to humble to come right out and say that…don’t ya know.

What I hope is that I’m the person he or she says this to. Then, while they think they’re telling me just how truly impressive and well-read they are, they’ll actually be telling me something else altogether; they’ll be telling me that, after all of these years of patience and restraint, the time has come that it’s OK for me to start smacking people.

3 Replies to “Hop on Pop”

  1. Because I majored in vocal performance and I had to learn pronunciations in at least four different languages, I do understand that “Seuss” is technically pronounced “Zoice”. However, I do not give much of a hoot about it.

    Usually, you would find me correcting someone’s pronunciation.
    (“Often” definitely sticks out for me; would you pronounce “knife” as “kuh-nife” [perhaps if you are a French knight straight out of Monty Python]?) However, “Seuss” as “Soos” is simply too ingrained in the social consciousness that to attempt telling anyone who does not speak German how to pronounce it is just a foolish endeavor in my eyes.

    Since we’re on the topic of names, when anyone pronounces “Handel” in George Frederick Handel with a long “A” rather than a short one, I get agitated. Those people want to sound like they know many things and you do not when really “Handel” just sounds like the word “handle” and thus they reveal themselves to not know much of anything.

    One more thing: I do know “forte” in the context of strengths is “fort”, but due to the musical “forte”, I suppose I will always pronounce it as “for-tay”. I suspect this will be my pronunciation vice.

  2. Oh, I cannot wait until my next visit to the bar! “Paul, I’ll have a triple berry with sugar on the rim, and, hey, have you read any super fun children’s books lately? Perhaps, about cats in hats or foxes in boxes?” Bazinga!

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