It’s My Name; I’ll Pronounce it Anyway I Like

When I was a child, a teacher once told my elementary class something that kind of blew my mind. We were discussing spelling rules (i before e except after c, or when sounding like ‘ay’ as in neighbor and weigh) and someone mentioned that her uncle had a name that broke the rule. The teacher then said that proper names don’t have to follow any rules–that one’s name could be spelled “B-O-B” but pronounced “Methuselah” if the person so desired.

Since at that age I wasn’t particularly fond of my given name of “Leslie,” I was intrigued by this revelation. Perhaps I could insist that my name was actually Cynthia or Elizabeth or Kimberly or anything more feminine sounding than Leslie. Well, no one was on board with that, so I just settled for being plain old Leslie.

I do pronounce my name with a soft “s” sound rather than with a “z” sound as many Leslies do. Once a girl who shared my name but used the “z” sound told me that the “s” sound was for males named Leslie, while girls used the “z.” She told me my name’s pronunciation was masculine. I disagreed, so I slugged her.

Just kidding. I politely disagreed with her and went on my way, mentally punching her with gusto. She was rather obnoxious, after all.

My mom gave me the lovely, feminine middle name of D’Aun, (pronounced Dee Awn) though. In fact, she settled on it way before coming up with my first name. Apparently, her best friend at the time had named her daughter, D’Aun, and Mom loved it so much that she wanted to give that name to her firstborn daughter. However, since she didn’t want to copy her friend, she used it as my middle moniker.

For awhile after my birth I really didn’t have a first name, but my Nannie (Mom’s mom) had recently read Giant by Edna Ferber, in which the main character’s name is Leslie. Everyone involved (except moi, dammit), agreed that Leslie paired well with D’Aun, and it was a done deal.

When I saw the film, Giant, I was super stoked because finally a lovely, feminine woman (Elizabeth Taylor) would answer to my name! Surely I’d then be able to embrace this designation. My hopes were dashed when the pronunciation chosen by the filmmakers was “Lezlie.”

Lately I’ve been taking an informal poll of women sharing my name. So far, it’s about 50/50. I’m not inclined to punch the “z” aficionados anymore, but they shouldn’t make any assumptions about my femininity based on an s.

Do you know any Leslies? Which is it, z or s?

Peaze, people.

Author: nananoyz

I'm a semi-retired crazy person with one husband and two cats.

19 thoughts on “It’s My Name; I’ll Pronounce it Anyway I Like”

  1. You know how you never think about things like this, (unless it’s your own name of course) and then someone points it out to you and you start trying both versions and neither seems right??
    Saying your name now in my head seems to lend itself to the “z” pronunciation so I suppose, even though I don’t know any Leslie’s but you, I would tend to call you Lezlie. However, if I ever meet you face to face I will never, ever assume a masculine nature is attached no matter what you want to be called!

    In a side note, I remember as a young child having one of those obnoxious kids tell me something similar regarding the masculine/feminine thing. She said, “Look at your hand, mostly look at your fingernails.” Apparently I curled my hand, turned it over so the palm was up and the fingers and nails were curled over the palm and gazed away at my little kid hand. “That’s how boys do it, not girls. Girls look like this…” and she proceeded to hold her hand way out, fingers splayed delicately with her palm facing away…
    Obviously that incident has stuck with me for over 50 years… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, we had a teacher pull the fingernail thing on us one day. Honestly I don’t remember how i looked at my digits—I think I might have splayed my fingers, but a girl beside me burst into tears when the teacher said that boys look at theirs with the fingers curled over their palms.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never thought of the name Leslie as masculine. Wear it proudly. I think it’s a pretty name.
    Blake’s first name is Leslie, but everyone knows him as Blake. Story is, someone shortened his name to Les as an infant. Momma said he was not going to be called Less and he was called by his middle name.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wrote a long answer to this but apparently it didn’t post. So I will make this one short and sweet. My name is Lesley and I pronounce it with an S. (Just like it’s spelled). Every man or woman I have met pronounces it with an s. It’s a British name. The Brits use the spelling Leslie for masculine and Lesley for feminine. In America any spelling goes. But as long as it’s spelled with an S it’s pronounced S.

    Liked by 1 person

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