We all accept a few universal truths about Dr. Seuss and his universe—Horton definitely heard that Who; The Grinch was more of a Lent type of guy; Ham should NEVER be green—But there remains one Seussian sticking point that continues to baffle readers of all generations, and shows no sign of peaceful resolution. And that is the pronunciation of the Doctor’s name.
If you are in the majority, you pronounce “Seuss” to rhyme with “Zeus.” (Maybe you even say “Zeus,” and consider that acceptable.) But according to humorist Alexander Liang, one of the Doctor’s college pals, the correct pronunciation was always “Soice,” rhyming with “voice.” Liang even wrote up a little rhyme to drive the point home: “You’re wrong as the deuce/ And you shouldn’t rejoice/ If you’re calling him Seuss./ He pronounces it Soice (or Zoice).”
Seuss himself eventually relented and adopted the rhymes-with-moose pronunciation, unable to control his own legend. But he was far from the first or last author to be chronically mis-addressed by the reading public. To set the record straight, here are 17 other popular authors whose names almost everyone says wrong without realizing.
Don’t say: Rolled Dahl, or Role Dahl
Correct pronunciation: ROO-all Dahl
Dahl’s unusual name gets a Norwegian pronunciation, as the Willy Wonka author hails from a Norwegian family, and was named after Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen.
J. K. Rowling
Don’t say: Row-ling, or Raw-ling
Correct pronunciation: like "rolling"
Don’t say: Gabble-don, or Guh-BALL-don
Correct pronunciation: GAB-uhl-dohn (last syllable rhymes with “stone”)
From the Outlander author’s website: “For reasons unknown, people from New York City… invariably pronounce it to rhyme with ‘mastodon.’ One of these days, I’m going to put the accent mark over the 'don' that the name probably had when it came from Spain back in, and see if that helps”
Don’t say: Pa-LAW-nee-uk
Correct pronunciation: PAHL-a-nik
Don’t say: Satcher, or Suh-kar
Correct pronunciation: Sacker (“like someone who tackles quarterbacks or someone who stuffs potatoes into sacks,” says the author’s website)
Don’t say: NAH-ba-kof
Correct pronunciation: na-BOE-kof
Don’t say: Ann
Correct pronunciation: INE
Don’t say: GOH-thee, or GO-thuh
Correct pronunciation: GUR-tuh
Don’t say: HOO-note Diaz
Correct pronunciation: JOO-no DEE-as