Monday, September 15, 2003


A dialogue with a premium subscriber from Kent, OH:

back in the day when i was more familiar with jeremy freese's name as it was spoken rather than written, i thought "freese" was spelled "freeze"...

It's still regularly misspelled that way, which is one of the reasons I encourage an alternative pronunciation.

ahh, see i thought you were saying that "freese like niece" was the correct, official pronunication. but you're saying that "freese like knees" is the correct pronunciation and you just want to encourage others to also say "freese like niece" in order to (among other reasons) avoid the "freeze" spelling? or, are you saying that both pronunciations are officially correct? and, finally, is your position on the pronunciation (whatever your position is) a departure from the way your family pronounces the freese name?...

I'm surprised I haven't already written a blog entry about the pronunciation of my surname. Oh, wait, I have, but that was not enough to quench the more thirsty minds that read this weblog.

1. I am in nominally the same situation as my more famous colleague, Myra Marx Ferree. People who don't know her typically pronounce her last name like the last two syllables of the word referee. When she introduces herself, however, she pronounces it so it rhymes with berry. She doesn't seem to mind that people say her name various ways, because (at least as she told me) she reasons that both pronunciations are Americanizations of the German pronunciation, so why be fussy about it?

2. The real German pronunciation of Freese sounds something like Fray-suh. I said in my earlier post I have an unrelated college friend with my last name whose family pronounces it so it rhymes with crazy. This seems to combine being non-intuitive and non-authentic. Apparently he had started making an effort to change how he said it to "freeze", but this met with much resistance from his family, including a threat from his grandparents to disown him. So some people do choose to be fussy, regardless of how rational are the grounds for fussiness.

3. My parents do pronounce our last name freeze. However, my parents don't really pronounce my first name correctly, since they both omit the middle schwa, so I don't know why they should get final say over my last name. Besides my mother, whom I love beyond bloggable words, asserts that her middle name is pronounced like it was spelled Joanne even though on her birth certificate it is Joan. For that matter, my parents say worsch where I say wash, and journally where I say generally, so I've already established ample premise for wandering away from family when it comes from pronunciation.

4. I don't really care so much how my last name is pronounced as long as it is pronounced with one syllable. What I do hate is when it gets spelled "freeze." I did not come up with the idea if I was able to get the world to say my name so that it rhymes with niece it would minimize the despised misspelling, I have to give credit to that to an older sister (thanks Shannon, wherever you may be). I do like the idea, however, and so I will continue to introduce myself with the rhymes-with-niece pronunciation and occasionally to correct people when I'm feeling either ornery.

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