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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Potato, potahto...

After my post about pronunciations of designer names and the confusion about the correct way to say Hans Wegner's surname caused by a certain video I watched, I tried to find contact information for Marianne Wegner Sørensen, who assumed leadership of her father's design studio in 1993. I was unable to find an email address or phone number for her, so I contacted the North American headquarters of Carl Hansen and Son. I will consider their answer the final word on the issue of pronouncing Hans Wegner's name, at least for purposes of the list in my post. I doubt that many of you spent the weekend sitting on the edge of your seat with bated breath, just waiting to hear this news, but for those who did...

My email to Carl Hansen and Son:

Please give me a definitive answer about the pronunciation of “Wegner.” I recently watched a video interview with Knud Erik Hansen, and he seemed to pronounce it several different ways.

I have heard it pronounced “VEG-ner,” “VIG-ner,” “VINE-er,” “WEG-ner” and “WIG-ner” and “WEE-ner.”  Please...what is correct?

Dana McGill-Perez

I received an almost immediate response from the company:

Hi Dana,

Thank you for your email. I can understand the confusion. When we refer to Hans J. Wegner outside of Denmark, we pronounce it phonetically as Veg-ner. In the Danish language, it is correctly pronounced Vee-ner.

I hope this helps.

Kind Regards,

Emily O’Gorman
Director of Operations
Carl Hansen & Son Inc.

Before moving from the Wegner topic for a while, some of you might be interested to know that  Marianne Wegner Sørensen trained as an architect and worked as her father's employee for 20 years before taking over leadership of the studio. She herself is a furniture designer. 

 Marianne Wegner Sørensen, daughter of Hans Wegner

Oval extension table by Marianne Wegner Sørensen's nice to have the Wegner ball of twine untangled. Now we can move on to "Hvidt." Is it VILTH or VEET?  At this point, does anyone care? Or should we just call the whole thing off?


  1. wow..that was neat..loved your persistence

  2. @Sudha: I'm a compulsive researcher, and once I start looking for an answer, I get a little nuts. :)

  3. So which pronunciation do we use? The Danish one or the other one?

  4. Never thought about any of this because if I see these names it's in print, it rarely comes up in discussions at the Piggly Wiggly where if one is discussing Vee-ners it's Ball Park or Oscar Meier! Love all I learn here.

  5. @Make mine Mid-Century: I'm sticking with Veg-ner, unless the store starts making enough money to send us to Denmark for furniture on a regular basis...and then I guess I'll learn to say it the way the Danes do. :)

  6. @DearHelenHartman: It never had been a huge problem for me either, until we opened the store, but now people kinda expect us to know a little about the stuff we sell. Go figure...LOL But, seriously, you do make a good point, because till I started talking to customers about it, I only encountered the names in print.

  7. My personal choice is to pronounce designers' names as closely to the way they would have said it themselves as possible, unless the native pronunciation would be totally unrecognizable to the listener.

    After all, it was his/her name, so who am I to Americanize it, just because I can? I say that because of personal experience. My daughter's father pronounces his Hispanic surname with an ever-so-slightly rolled R and accent on the first syllable, so that it sounds roughly like PED-es. When we married, I did the same. I've lost count of how many times I've introduced myself and a person has said, "Oh, you mean Pah-REZ." Maybe it's just me, but correcting someone's pronunciation of his own name seems incredibly arrogant.