Most Americans are total rubes when it comes to respecting pronunications of foreign last names. A year and a half ago I riffed about the yokel way to pronounce the last name of Melissa “Supergirl” Benoist. Semi-cultivated types pronounce this French-origin name as “Ben-whah” while dogpatch Americans pronounce it “Ben-oh-ist” with Benoist herself pronouncing it “Ben-OYST.”
Now a “new” mispronunication has surfaced — the last name of Marvel Films honcho Kevin Feige. New to me, that is. For the last ten-plus years I’ve been saying “fayge” or “feejzh” (like the first syllable in leisure), but yesterday a Cinemacon moderator pronounced it “Fay-gee.” I jumped in my seat…what?
Feige is a German term for fig, the purple-colored tree fruit. Germans would pronounce this “Fye-guh“, which is easily within the realm of American capability.
But it also resembles the medieval term “liege” (as in “my liege”, which is pronounced like the first syllable of “leisure” and which means “my superior”) as well as the Belgian city of Liege, which is pronounced “Lee-ayge.” So for a while there I was saying “fayge” or “feejzh” — a one-syllable, soft-g pronunication. Because Feige’s last name merely reverses the order of the first two vowels (e-i instead of i-e).
But throw Feige’s name into the American cultural meat-grinder and it becomes fay-gee, or almost the same as Weegee, the New York tabloid photographer. Nobody comes up with more dumbshit-sounding pronunciations than Americans…nobody.
The train has left the station, I realize, but the way to pronounce Kevin’s last name is either “fye-guh” or “fayge” but not fucking fay-gee, for Chrissake. The other American way to say it is “fye-gee.”
Listen to the two pronunication videos below — there’s no clear consensus.