Friday, February 15, 2013

It Is Lauren, Not Loren!

If there is one thing that drives Reggie absolutely nuts, it is when he hears someone mispronounce Ralph Lauren's last name as "law-RENN," with emphasis on the second syllable.   I don't know where people got the cockamamie idea that it is pronounced that way, but hearing people say it like that produces a reaction in me like the sound of fingernails screeching across a blackboard.  For those of you who pronounce Ralph Lauren's last name as "law-RENN," would you please stop it, once and for all?

Miss Lauren Bacall
(Her first name is correctly pronounced "LOREN")

Because you are mangling its pronunciation.  The "Lauren" of Ralph Lauren is pronounced the same way as the first name of the American actress Lauren Bacall, which is pronounced "LOREN," with equal emphasis on each syllable.  It is not pronounced the same way as the last name of the Italian actress Sophia Loren, which is correctly pronounced with emphasis on the second syllable.

Miss Sophia Loren
(Her last name is correctly pronounced "Loh-RENN")

I suppose that people think pronouncing Lauren as "law-RENN" somehow makes it sound more posh, or "classy," or (Heaven forbid) French-ified.*  But it is none of these, Dear Reader.  I am here to tell you that pronouncing it that way sounds ridiculous, ill-informed, and affected.  Because it is!

No one who works at Ralph Lauren pronounces "Lauren" as "law-RENN."  And I have that on good authority, Dear Reader, since I have done a substantial amount of professional advisory work for the company over the years, and believe me, not one person in senior management there or in the stores pronounces it any way other than how it should be pronounced, which is "LOREN."


Now, Reggie is well aware that the "Lauren" in both the names of Miss Lauren Bacall and Mr. Ralph Lauren doesn't appear on their birth certificates, and was adopted by them at later dates.  He doesn't give a fig about that, nor does he believe anyone else should, either.  What he does believe, and he believes vehemently, Dear Reader, is that "Lauren" should be pronounced correctly, which is "LOREN," and is not—and never has been and never shall be—"law-RENN."

So, if you—or anyone you know—has heretofore misguidedly pronounced the name Lauren emphasizing the second syllable, I insist that you (and they) stop doing so immediately!

And that is a Reggie Rule.

* Which is even more perplexing to this writer, given that the company's design vision is so firmly rooted in quintessentially Anglo-American sources 

Photograph of Miss Lauren Bacall courtesy of mptvimages.com; photograph of Miss Sophia Loren courtesy of the Mathau Company; Ralph Lauren corporate logo courtesy of same

61 comments:

  1. I concur, Mr. Darling!

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  2. Ah yes, pronunciation. And on the other side of the pond from whence the language originates so many things pronounced quite differently. Names are especially difficult:

    Leveson Gower
    Althrop
    Ralph
    Berkshire
    Derby
    Iran/Iranian
    Iraq/Iraqi
    Frasier
    Parisian
    Moscow
    Buddha
    Edinburgh
    Birmingham

    and of course other words:

    frustrating
    schedule
    cognac
    compost
    yogurt
    leisure
    dynasty
    clerk
    comrade

    and so on. I suppose the function of a universal language, bastardised left and right and then taught by those unqualified. Despite the mispronunciation of some words, I am glad when I hear people make a pretty good job of constructing a sentence in English, (even when it is supposedly their mother tongue). Language does grow, and when it's a universal language it grows more quickly and more widely. The language of Shakespeare is incomprehensible to most who have not studied it, and some of it even for those of us who have.

    But I take your point. Ralph Lauren wishes its name to be pronounced in a specific way, just as Edinburgh does. In the end however, I suspect the former doesn't mind as long as people keep buying their brand and adopted lifestyle, (and name).

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    1. Hello Columnist -- thank you for this entertaining list of names or words that (usually) are pronounced differently among English-speaking people across the globe. In this case, the pronunciation of Mr. Lauren's last name as law-RENN by certain people here in the States is just nothing but idiotic, rather than a result of regional differences... RD

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    2. ...and yes, I agree that Mr. Lauren probably does find it amusing that some people mispronounce his adopted last name. With annual sales at his eponymously named company approaching $7 billion, he has other, more pressing matters to be concerned about, I am sure. RD

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    3. and don't forget 'lieutenant', 'either' and 'neither'.

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  3. Actually, more than mispronunciation I find poor delivery to be more annoying. If you listen to any of the (usually female, but please that remark is not scientific) newspeople on MSNBC or Bloomberg, they must all have gone to the same school of "how to annoy the hell out of you with my screechy whining voice". Dear God in heaven. I can only take that for a very limited period. It's a toss up whether that is worse than poor enunciation and an almost total lack of diction. This is often so true in movies and TV shows today. Momentarily I think I'm going deaf, whereas I know my hearing is perfectly fine. But I listen to what actor A or B has said, and I have no comprehension of what it was. None.

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    1. Thank God for the "mute" button when the horrible, screechy, female voices come on. Worse than the Kardashian whine; worse than "Valley Girl" types. There's something they do to have the words stuck in their throats. If only there was a "mute" button in real life.

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    2. In my Southern household, Santa Clause was "Santer Clause."

      However, Mr. Lauren's name was never mispronounced.

      What's the deal with television commercials now airing that pronounce "almond" as "all-mint", and "diamond" as "die-mint?"

      I can't mute fast enough!

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  4. Hello Reggie, I think we can add conductor Lorin Maazel to the mix, on the Ralph-Bacall side.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Parnassas: Yes, thanks for the suggestion! Reggie

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  5. Replies
    1. Actually, it's even more unfortunate than that: according to Wikipedia, the name that appears on his birth certificate is "Lifshitz." I don't begrudge him changing it, as I'd think that would be a rather heavy burden to carry throughout one's life...

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  6. My father used to say, "It's sometimes good to get a man's name wrong."

    And the older I get, the more I agree.

    (Of course, applying the same principle to women's names could easily be disastrous.)

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    1. Hello Ancient, how interesting. Our fathers were in opposite -- mine always (rather pompously, I might add) said "To rob a man of his name [by either not knowing it or mispronouncing it] is to rob him of his dignity." I can't stand it when people mispronounce Lauren because it sounds idiotic, and not because of my concern for Mr. Lauren's feeling on the matter! Reggie

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  7. Thank you, Reggie, for settling this! I've been pronouncing it correctly for years...only to be corrected by others.

    I will print out your post and carry it with me should the time come when I need extra verification!

    BTW, your blog is one that I read early in the day. It gives a spring in my step which I need sometimes.

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    1. Thank you, April, for your kind words and also for allowing me to be of some use, however little, to you on this matter. RD

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  8. On of my previous students once gave a presentation about Mr Lauren in which he constantly corrected me for my pronunciation of his last name. According to the student Lorraine was the correct pronunciation.

    As to incorrect pronunciation: I pronounce Syrie Maugham's first name as Sirry but have come to understand that my pronunciation is wrong.

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    1. "Lorraine"??? Now I've heard it all! That is even more cockamamie than "law-RENN"!! Please refer that sudent of yours to me for a swatting! Reggie

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  9. Oh that drives me crazy too!
    Reggie, I can't find your email address, I have some pug love to send to you and Boy.

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  10. Well, of course I can find it, I just didn't look hard enough did I?

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    Replies
    1. Dear Tabs -- Thank you for emailing me about the pug book review in "The Lady" magazine. I'm still laughing. Must order it immediately! Reggie

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  11. Dear Reggie, thank you – you made me laugh out loud. A swatting, indeed!

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    1. Thanks Blue -- I believe in corporal punishment when it comes to these matters! RD

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  12. Another one...Jaguar sometimes sounds like jaggy-war. Had you noticed?

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    1. Hello Gail, I think the "jaggy-war" thing is all about we Yanks trying to sound like Brits. I suspect Downton Abbey is making matters worse... I draw the line at "Shed-yule." RD

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  13. As someone who regularly hears her own name mispronounced as "Rah-ee-na" or "Ree-anna," I wholeheartedly concur.

    (BTW, it's "Ray-na.")

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    Replies
    1. Oh my dear, you must have to put up with a lot. I suspect that you are sometimes confused with the pint-sized rapper Rhianna, too? Most irritating, I am sure -- thanks!! RD

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  14. Dearest one,

    I wish you would take on the cause of "off of" next. As in "We are off of the lows!" I hear that on TV all day long, with CNBC the biggest culprit. I go ballistic every time I hear it which is all day long.

    I worked for the British for many years, so luckily I am conditioned to the nuances of pronouncing certain words. My favorite has always been schedule but Parisian?

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    1. M'dear -- it is for reasons that you cite that I rarely watch such drivel, even though there are monitors all over the trading desk where I spend my days featuring such nincompoops blathering away. Fortunately the sound is off, and one must use one's headset to listen to their inanities. Ever so, Reggie

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  15. I think some people pronounce as they think it spelled "La Reine" sort of giving it (in their minds) a French cachet as in Yves Saint Laurent- but I'm with you, at 7 billion, I wouldn't care what they call me, just keep calling me

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    1. Hello Thomas -- I think you are correct! Which reminds me of a particularly egregious example of such a mangling that I witnessed one night a number of years ago while warching a TV show on a museum's art collection. The hostess of the show made a (rather tedious) point of pronouncing all of the artists' names with excruciating correctness. Except for that of the (quintiseentially) American artist Charles Dana Gibson (of the Gibson Girl fame, and an uncle to Nancy Lancaster) which she pronounced in a VERY Frenchy way as "Sharrrl Dah-nah Geeb-sown," which I thought was one of the funniest things I had heard in ages, and I about "busted a gut" laughing at it. Reggie

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  16. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It is so nice to know there are others on this planet that care about things like proper pronunciation. Now if we could only get people to stop saying "Real-a-tor" for their real estate agent (two syllables, people!)AND....oh never mind, you just hit a nerve with me, Reggie Darling. Or should I say "struck a chord" which I mention because I was corrected, quite emphatically, that it was "cord."

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    1. Thanks Barbara -- "real-a-tor" is right up there with "nuke-you-lerr" I think. Anyone who pronounces such words that way sounds not only ignorant, but idiotic, too. Reggie

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    2. Nuke-you-lerr makes me wild, too! Equally used by Democrats and Republicans alike.

      Elizabeth

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  17. I think Im one of the LAW REN brigade even though I can see it's Lauren ..I'll watch it from now on


    Fair enough Reggie, but how do you pronounce the surname McGrath ? with a th sound at the end?


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    1. Hello smr -- here in the US we would pronounce the "th" in McGrath as it is spelled. I assume in your neck of the woods (or part of the planet) it is pronounced as a "w"? Please enlighten us! Thanks, Reggie

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    2. In Australia we swallow the c so it's
      ma grah with a long a.

      BTW have been looking at dolphins apropos your basalt candlesticks.Certainly I have seen Renaissance dolphins with that bulbous face and peculiar tail. My local area used to have them on its seal now it's some corporatised boring image.Just before your post a friend and I were talking about those dolphins then along came those basalts. Funny how that happens

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  18. This reminds of the time I ordered a guyro at the Gyro cafe!I got a very strong and vehement reaction and was taught to say, "Gueerrro!

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    1. Thnaks -- I was (rightly) laughed at when I pronounce Dale (as in Dale of Norway) as "Dail," when its correct pronunciation (in Norway at least) is "Dah-leh." Live and learn!! RD

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  19. I went to a rather boring lecture on a new or should I say another Duchess of Windsor book- the author, who was supposedly "tres intime" with her in Paris , while talking about her wardrobe, consistently refered to Balenciaga as Balon-CA-ghee-uh- it rather undermined his credibility-

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    1. Wow, that is a mythic mangling of the great Spanish designer's name! Thanks for sharing it with us. Case in point -- the bald and peculiar mispronunciation of his name (rightly, as you point out) makes one question the authority of the speaker in all matters, not just in the designer's name. Thanks Thomas for sharing this -- Reggie

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  20. OMG! I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS POST THAT I CAN'T HELP WRITING IN ALL CAPS. But I'll stop. The worst is when someone says law-RENN and I find a way to gently work the correct pronunciation into my response (not correcting, just saying the name properly) and I get the, "well, I just know it's law-RENN" back. AAARRRRGH.

    Thank you, thank you for writing this and validating my ire. I will forever feel better when I hear the name mispronounced.

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  21. My grandmother's name was Laura so when our daughter was born, we named her Lauren (LAW-renn) as a nod to my grandmother.

    Ralph Lauren was becoming well known and had come out with the "Lauren" line of fragrances. Everybody asked me if we named her "after the bath powder"!

    *sara*

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  22. Oh for the days of Safari!

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  23. THANK YOU!! I feel the same and find it so hard to believe people pronounce his name that way. I know many girls named Lauren and no one has ever pronounced it "law-RENN". I think you are right that people try to make the brand more "sophisticated" to make what they are buying seem more important. Sad!

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  24. THANK YOU!! I thought I was the only other person in the world that is repulsed by that! I am putting this post on my facebook page!!

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  25. Can't bear it, and in general, can't stand the French-ification of what seems like an endless list of things right now.

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  26. Sorry but the correct pronunciation of Ralph's last name is Lipschitz and has been ever since he wandered down from the Bronx.

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  27. Thanks for the chuckle Reggie. You can add "poinsetta", "nukular" and coupon with a "q" to the list of unfortunately pronounced words that drive me up the wall.

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  28. Reggie . . .

    As a long-time employee with Mr. Lauren . . . I can easily concur with your on-going struggle and frustration with Mr. Lauren's name. My favourite version was, and she said it several times during our conversation so I was quite sure of her pronunciation, as "Rafe Laurent." hilarious. my head nearly exploded. lol.

    Cheers,
    Scot

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  29. It seems like the people I remember pronouncing it "Lau-REN" are usually the same ones who pronounce "Tanqueray" as if they see a "G" in there somewhere.
    Best -
    - Mike

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  30. Reggie,
    I must say, you really know how to drum up a lively conversation! A pet peeve of mine is not knowing the difference between then and than, ...... i.e., those folks who would rather get lost on the way to a party "then" ask for directions beforehand. :-)

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  31. Reggie, you are my hero, and I'm beginning to wonder if you're my long lost brother!

    My pet peeve is this very thing, and it's time people stop it once and for all.

    Elizabeth

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  32. Thank you, Reggie! It also makes me heave when people pronounce Ann Rand instead of Ine Rand for Ayn Rand. It makes me nuts, so I understand how you feel!

    Best,

    Ellin

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  33. I am a French expatriate who lives in New England. This post makes theoretical sense but is impossible to read out loud and continue to make sense: Lauren and Loren sound the same despite my best effort. Otherwise, I enjoy your blog very much. My mother has an antique shop in Paris.

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  34. Dear Reggie, I love your posts. My response to this one is that Mr. Lauren might need to work with his marketing people on this since, "...he believes vehemently... that "Lauren" should be pronounced correctly." I usually pronounce it correctly, but I'm never really quite sure that it's actually correct.

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  35. Hilarious! It has always bugged me when people put on airs and say law-RENN. Although maybe I am slightly guilty in that my southern upbringing makes me pronounce Lauren as LA-ren (like the "a" in barn) instead of Loren. Last week on the phone I told the receptionist my name was Sarah, and she asked if I spell it C-E-R-A. Cera. Right.

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  36. I'm surprised that a true WASP such as yourself would be bothered by the mispronounced name of some wannabe WASP...

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  37. I always pronounce it Lauren because that is the way it is pronounced. But a disagree vehemently with your assertion that Loren is not a more "classy" or "posh" pronunciation. If you are inventing a name from scratch you might as well give it the best sounding pronunciation possible, and if he had it to do all over again, I'd advise him to go with the "Loren" pronunciation. It just sounds better. And it's not like it really clashes with the WASPY aesthetics of the line any more than Lauren does.

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