Did you know that Theodor Geisel took his pen name – Dr. Seuss – from his mother’s maiden name? Neither did I. And did you also know that pretty much everyone has been pronouncing it incorrectly? From You’re Saying It Wrong (Ten Speed Press):
The American public, unfamiliar with the German name, went the phonetic route. “Soos,” they called him, incorrectly. Alexander Lang, a college pal with whom he worked on the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, commemorated this lapse on the part of the reading public in verse:
You’re wrong as the deuce
And you shouldn’t rejoice
If you’re calling him Seuss.
He pronounces it Soice (or Zoice).
Not so fast, says Philip Nell, author of Dr. Seuss: American Icon and The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats. “If you pronounce it ‘Doctor Zoice,'” he writes, “you’ll sound like a fool.” Turns out the good doctor was totally fine with the Americanized soos.
So. If you want to sound all fancy and pretentious, insist on “Dr. Zoice.” If you want people to know what the hell you’re talking about, just say it the way you’ve always said it.