How do you pronounce Ouack from Make Way for Ducklings?
March 12, 2014 8:22 AM   Subscribe

As in Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack. Whack or Oo-ack? Is there a definitive answer? There are many arguments for either pronunciation, but did McCloskey ever make a recording? Did anyone note the pronunciation from a reading he did?
posted by noether to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Whack, because they're all one-syllable names.
posted by Dasein at 8:24 AM on March 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Captain Kangaroo read Make Way for Ducklings on his show when I was a teeny-tiny kiddo. I don't remember his pronounciation, but I'm trying like mad to see if his reading is preserved anywhere on-line.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:25 AM on March 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by elsietheeel at 8:26 AM on March 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'd guess "whack", but not so aspirated (if that's the right word) as is the "wh" sound
posted by thelonius at 8:28 AM on March 12, 2014

My take on it would be like the French "Ouest" only with an "ack" on the end..
posted by Gev at 8:28 AM on March 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

I always said "oh-ack," with a hint of a "w" in there.

(This was my favorite book to read out loud as a kid)
posted by jeweled accumulation at 8:40 AM on March 12, 2014

Completely agree with thelonius and Gev. Make an "oooo" sound and elide it into an "ack" as a one-syllable word.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:41 AM on March 12, 2014

My Boston relations used to read that as oo-ack, distinctly two syllables, all of them pronounced it that way.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 8:49 AM on March 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

While not definitive, Weston Woods' film version pronounces it "Wack" (Names start around 5:16)
posted by FreezBoy at 8:52 AM on March 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

My brother went to school with a kid whose last name long and started with Ou[vowel]. It was pronounced roughly as "woo". I'd say wuack, one syllable.
posted by phunniemee at 8:55 AM on March 12, 2014

I do not have the language to describe it, but it is "whack" with a little something at the beginning. So, like, midway between "oo ack" and "whack" but leaning towards "whack".
posted by dirtdirt at 9:03 AM on March 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

I always pronounced it "oh-ack", though it's a very subtle thing. You just sort of lead into the "Whack" sound. But I think I've only ever read that book at 3:00 AM when I was begging my son to go the hell to sleep, so what do I know?
posted by bondcliff at 10:15 AM on March 12, 2014

My parents always pronounced it "oo-ack", two syllables. One syllable is more consistent? but personally I find two syllables on the last name more poetic.
posted by Scientist at 10:53 AM on March 12, 2014

The word starts with "ou." It's set in New England. "Ouack" is undoubtedly pronounced like a French Canadian last name starting with the same letters. Said names are very common in regions with large Franco-American populations.

"Oulette" = WOO-LET (in New England vernacular pronunciation)
"Ouack" = WACK

If you are a native speaker of French, you are allowed to pronounce that "w" lightly, with heavy aspiration.

I don't have any physical evidence for this, but I have never been more confident about anything in my life.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:07 AM on March 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

Wack. That way the sentence rhymes and flows.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:08 PM on March 12, 2014

When opera singer Leonard Warren appeared in Russia(many years ago) the story circulated was that Russian did not have an equivalent for "W", so his concert was advertised as Ooarren.
posted by Cranberry at 2:24 PM on March 12, 2014

ooooACK, when I read it so very many times.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:47 AM on March 13, 2014

Oo-Ack was the way I did it. Because it sounded goofy
posted by Windopaene at 7:09 PM on April 9, 2014

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