Saturday, April 26, 2008

Went to the doctor last week (just a checkup). When the doctor walked into the examining room, she glanced down at my chart, looked up, and cheerfully said, “Good morning Mr. Angelo!”

My surname is pronounced just like it’s spelled. Algeo. AL-jee-oh. Slight emphasis on the first syllable. It’s not a crazy Polish name like Krzyzewski (shuh-SHEF-skee, as in Mike, the Duke University basketball coach). Yet, for some reason, nobody seems to be able to pronounce it. (“Algeo,” for the record, is an Irish name.)

Allegro. I get that one a lot. I mean, it’s not even close. Alego – uh-LAY-go – that one I can almost understand. The third and fourth letters get transposed. OK. But Allegro? It’s like Angelo – where do those extra consonants come from?

Maybe (as my brother Howard has theorized) it’s because “Algeo” is one of those rare five-letter words with three vowels. Don’t get many of those in English. So maybe, subconsciously, people insert their own vowels to make it easier for them to pronounce. Who knows?

When we lived in francophone West Africa, nobody had a problem with my name. It was al-ZHAY-oh. Quite mellifluous, actually. I’m told it will be similar in Rome, only it will be pronounced al-JAY-oh. I’m looking forward to that.


Anonymous said...


Happy Birthday.


algeojhjr said...

How about the pronunciation "Al Joe", like two first names? I once saw a car radiator Dad dropped off for repairs labeled this way when he picked it up.

Santa said...

As this was my maiden name, I can attest to the many ways it is mispronounced.

Some Algeos believe that the Algeos were originally from Italy and got to Ireland (where my immediate ancestors also come from, near Strabane to be exact) via a lengthy stopover in Renfrewshire, Scotland.

And it would be pronounced Al-Jay-o in Italy.

Santa T.