For having only 6 letters, my last name has been pronounced an infinite number of ways. I can still hear Coach Silly Bean (what was his real name, Sylvester? No, wait, I was never on the Cheerios) shouting at me in 7th grade PE:
la-NEER, get over here!
I’ll answer to any, but the following two are the most correct:
leh-NWAH: Obviously the name is French and if I want to put on airs, I’ll pronounce it so. Problem is, my accent is horrible. My wife, whose first language is French, cringes when I try. The opening syllable should almost, but not quite, get caught in the back of your throat. You should tease me with the accented second syllable, will you pronounce the “r” or not? No!
Indeed, my paternal lineage traces back to France. From what I’ve heard, somewhere in Normandy. Being Protestants, we were kicked out after the Wars of Religion and landed probably in Charleston, SC.
le-NORE: It’s been centuries since my father’s gene pool mingled in the home country, so I’m about as French as Taco Bell is Mexican. My last name is usually barked out with no pause between the syllables.
My father’s father was born in Lenoir City, TN, a town named after two of his great(+) grandfathers: William Ballard Lenoir and his father, General William Lenoir. Lenoirs are pretty thick in eastern Tennessee / western North Carolina.
People get pretty creative with my last name. It’s usually a good way to screen out those who don’t know me. Here are some other variations:
- LEN-wahr: The American French pronunciation. This is also how computers pronounce my name. Alas, this is how I have to say it when voice dialing anyone in my family.
- LEE-nore: People who use this seem to realize, once the sound has passed their lips, that this is incorrect.
- len-ner: This is said without any emphasis, it’s almost hard to hear.
- le-NOY-er: Rhymes with annoyer, which I may very well be.
- le-HORE: From my childhood, an attempt to purposely mangle my last name as a dig at me. Never worked, I always thought they were talking about that town in Pakistan.