Word Perfect—Real Life Magazine

Nothing can replace the physicality of a name on the mouth, and pronouncing it right is a form of attention and care.

“There is no right or wrong in Proust, says Samuel Beckett, and I believe it. The bluffing, however, remains a grey area,” wrote Anne Carson in The Albertine Workout. There may be no right or wrong in Proust, but there is a right or wrong way to say “Proust.” I learned this the hard way, during a grad school seminar, when I pronounced the name Pr-ow-st in the above-quoted. My professor quickly interrupted: “You better learn how to say Proust before you graduate, or you’ll be an embarrassment to yourself and the entire school.”

When I was a child I did not know how to talk. Or rather, I knew how to talk but couldn’t. My words came out garbled and unintelligible, frustrating both for the person trying to decode what I meant and for myself.

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