How to Pronounce “Lerangis”: Peter’s Handy Guide

I travel a lot to schools, bookstores, conventions, and small mossy granite caves, and the first question I’m asked is How do you pronounce your last name? Here’s the answer:

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ Lir-ANN-jiss. Soft G. ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

That’s Lir as in sir. Ann as in answer. Jiss as in jiss’ say it!

Now, this is not an easy last name to master. In fact, it’s the only one of its kind in the world. People get it wrong a lot. My family has received mail addressed to names from 480 464Li to 287 255Lescoufflair. By now all the Lerangii (which is the approved plural) have gotten used to this. Let’s face it, Lerangis has no easy mental associations, like Miller or Goldsmith. It doesn’t come trippingly off the tongue like, say, R. L. Stine or Marc Brown or Ann Martin. So if you say Lir-RANGE-iss (like “437 640deranged”), Lir-ON-jiss (like “347 443ON/off”), Lir-ANG-uss (rhymes with “640 466angus”) or Lir-ANN-jeez (rhymes with “400 300the river Ganges”) — or even if you say 600 399Lear- instead of Lir-, that’s OK. Wrong, but OK.

If you say, however, Legrangis or Legaris or Lorangutan or Lorenzo or DeAngelis or Schultz or Bruce Coville, then I may burst into bitter tears.

For you language mavens, Lerangis is actually kind of a made-up name. My original Greek name is even harder to pronounce and perhaps rather frightening to see: Παναγιώτης Λυραντζής.

This is pronounced Panagiotis Lyrantzis (approximately). What does it mean? Depends on how you spell it. Lyrantzis means “500 375one who plays the lyre.” Lirantzis would be “300 460one who plays with lira (or banker).” Of course, it could just mean “640 463one who is a liar.” Which, come to think of it, would be perfectly suited to a fiction writer. Personally, I love my Greek name. I grew up with it. It’s what my grandparents and 640 362Greek School teacher used to call me. But you don’t have to. Really.

In fact, let’s keep it our little secret.