CAY-muss, de-LEE-yo, NAY-bo-koff, PROWST
March 26, 2008 8:25 AM   Subscribe

How do I pronounce some of my favorite authors' names? (Names inside.)

J.M. Coetzee
Halldor Laxness
Junot Diaz
Kenzaburo Oe
Michel Houellebecq
Michael Chabon

Phonetics appreciated. Thanks!
posted by Darth Fedor to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Michael (like normal) SHAY-bahn. (Note that this pronunciation comes from a friend of mine who, Once Upon a Time, babysat his kids.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:28 AM on March 26, 2008

I can only answer for "Michel Houellebecq." Mee-SHELL WELL-beck is the basic gist of it. If you want to be more accurate, make your lips as if you're about to say "Ooooh" and instead say "well."
posted by desjardins at 8:29 AM on March 26, 2008

OH-eh. Two syllables.
posted by kittyprecious at 8:30 AM on March 26, 2008

I don't know why I put his name in quotes. I should have also noted that Michel has the same emphasis on the last syllable as Michelle does, only the first syllable is said "mee" instead of "mih."
posted by desjardins at 8:31 AM on March 26, 2008

J.M. Coetzee - [kutˈsiˑe] - copied from Wikipedia, but that's how I've always heard it pronounced as well.
posted by jessamyn at 8:32 AM on March 26, 2008

Response by poster: kittyprecious: what's the stressing like on 'Kenzaburo'?
posted by Darth Fedor at 8:43 AM on March 26, 2008

Houellebecq, pronounced WELL-beck.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 8:49 AM on March 26, 2008

Sorry, just noticed that desjardins beat me to the Houellebecq punch.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 8:51 AM on March 26, 2008

Thirding Coetzee as [kutˈsiˑ[schwa]], my South African friend pronounces it like that.
posted by randomination at 9:02 AM on March 26, 2008

Most of these (and many more) can be found on the Library of Congress's Say How? page.
posted by arco at 9:04 AM on March 26, 2008 [5 favorites]

Huh, I've heard NPR pronounce it Co-et-see-uh with a slight accent on "see."
posted by The Straightener at 9:07 AM on March 26, 2008

Halldor is pretty much as English HALL-door.

Laxsness is LOCH-sness [with the Scottish/German ch sound].
posted by Utilitaritron at 9:08 AM on March 26, 2008

Junot Díaz. At least that's how I would say it too. Junot - French (like the General) and Díaz - Spanish.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 9:10 AM on March 26, 2008

Miss South Africa is a Coetzee too. They seem to add the uh at the end that The Straightener mentions.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 9:14 AM on March 26, 2008

and others too...
posted by lucia__is__dada at 9:15 AM on March 26, 2008

"Cha as in Shea stadium, bon as in Bon Jovi" it used to say that on his website, but he took all the good stuff down!
posted by featherboa at 9:15 AM on March 26, 2008

No stress on any syllable in Japanese names, though the second-to-last syllable, "bu" (which rhymes with "who"), could be slightly swallowed, so it almost sounds like ken-za-b-ro. And you could slightly stress the "za," but that's not really necessary.

If you really want to be pedantic, you'll say Oe Kenzaburo (basically rhymes with "away hens aflow").
posted by breezeway at 9:16 AM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, and the Japanese "R" sound is not made with lips and clenched teeth (grrrrr) but by tapping the tongue against the roof of the mouth, like a very short "L" sound. It should sound like something between an "L," an "R," and a "D."
posted by breezeway at 9:23 AM on March 26, 2008

I have KCRW's Bookworm podcast figure out my pronounciations for me. Cees Noteboom? I'm supposed to figure that out for myself?
posted by bartleby at 9:44 AM on March 26, 2008

yeah Coetzee is like "Tootsie"
posted by matteo at 10:02 AM on March 26, 2008

Halldór Laxness has a Wikipedia entry that includes an ogg file of the correct pronunciation. Listening to the interview portions of the Sigur Rós film Heima also gives an idea of the contextual sound of the pronunciation.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 10:04 AM on March 26, 2008

I was going to point you to the Author Name Pronunciation Guide, where you can hear authors pronounce their own names, often with a little background - but not a single one of your authors is listed there. Still a cool site, though.
posted by kristi at 12:49 PM on March 26, 2008

I took a course from Coetzee in college, and as I remember he pronounced it something like

cut - SAY - eh.

where by "cut" I mean something about halfway between "cut" and "coat".
posted by escabeche at 12:56 PM on March 26, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you for the enlightenments, all.
posted by Darth Fedor at 8:26 PM on March 26, 2008

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