Is it Al-MAN-zo or Al-MON-zo?
“It’s kind of an outlandish name,” he said. – Little Town on the Prairie, Chapter 16, “Name Cards”
In his old legacydocumentaries blog dated July 9, 2008 (no longer online, sorry), Dean Butler discussed why Noel Silverman, attorney for The Little House Heritage Trust, believes that the way Almanzo Wilder’s name was pronounced on the television show is the correct pronunciation: in other words, as Al-MON-zo, not Al-MAN-zo.
Those of us who say Al-MAN-zo base our pronunciation on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s own. When Mrs. Wilder was 62 years old, she was recorded during a scripted interview by Docia Holland, librarian in Mansfield, Missouri. A set of “character dolls” (on display in Mansfield at the library) had been given to Laura by fans in California, and the recording was sent in thanks.
On the recording, both Wilder and Holland pronounce the name the same: Al-MAN-zo. If you haven’t heard the recording, it is well worth having, and is sold by most of the Little House museum gift shops. In addition to Laura’s voice, there are songs played on Pa’s fiddle.
I have a couple of videos from the early 1990s in which Neta Seal – friend of the Wilders – repeatedly says Al-MAN-zo. I have one from 1993 in which Roger MacBride (who never met either Laura or Almanzo Wilder in person, by the way) uses that pronunciation. I didn’t record Norma Lee Browning’s speech at Rocky Ridge Day, but I have talked to a number of people over the years who did know both Laura and Almanzo, and they always pronounced his name Al-MAN-zo.
After reading Dean’s blog this morning, I re-recorded the three times Laura says, “Almanzo” and you can listen to it HERE. Give the .wav file a few seconds to open.
Let’s face it: It’s Al-MON-zo on the Little House on the Prairie television show and Al-MAN-zo in real life, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Until a recording made by Almanzo Wilder himself surfaces, the best authority we’ve got is Laura’s own voice. It may not be straight from the horse’s mouth, but it’s pretty darn close.
P.S. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since this entry was first posted. Dean Butler now switches from one pronunciation to the other in a single sentence, depending on which Almanzo he’s talking about. Cool, huh?