Some thoughts on the correct pronunciation of Sag

My Hungarian grandparents Nick and Lily fled Hungary in 1939. They traveled on foot with my infant father to a port in Italy. Nick made a dangerous side-trip to Paris to get money to bribe his way onto a ship bound for Australia and to pay the landing money the Australian government required of jewish immigrants. I am proud of my grandparents and my extended family in Europe, the U.S. and Australia. Also, although I have never actually visited Hungary, I have a certain sentimental attachment to that country as well.

Nonetheless, I have decided to officially give up on the correct pronunciation of my family name. I don’t speak Hungarian, I can’t actually pronounce my name with a Hungarian accent. My closest American relative assures me that it should be pronounced ‘Sag’ with a long ‘a’ (á as in father) or you might imagine a british person to say saga.

After more than a decade of trying to tow the line this I have decided that the whole enterprise is futile and misguided. My attempts to get the world to adopt an Americanized Hungarian pronunciation have not been that successful. For example, I heard one of my friends massacre the “A” in Matt (sounded like mARt, to make it the same as the “A” in Sag.

Feel free to try any pronunciation of Sag that you like, but from now on my official policy is that, just as Matt rhymes with cat, Sag rhymes with bag.

Other famous Sag’s include: the Sag gene which encodes the S-arrestin protein in humans; the

  • Saudi Arabian Government; various
  • State Attorneys General; the
  • SQL Access Group and the
  • Screen Actors Guild.

Sâg is also a village in Sălaj County, Romania. I have no idea how they say it.