I always pronounced it with a hard "g", like "begin gold" without the "be"..

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Close enough.

While infrequent, it's not unusual for an English word to use the "long o" (ō) pronunciation, as in Jones, in spellings where the "short o" (ŏ) pronunciation, as in Johns, is more typical.  For example, go down this list of words:

boss

cross

floss

gloss

joss

loss

moss

toss

gross

Huh, what was that?  Yep, we says the word gross with the long o and don't think anything about how it runs against all of those short-o "-oss" words.  So when, in the first Manhunter from Mars story, J'onn J'onzz says (on page 4, panel 5), "As for my name---well, J'onn J'onzz could easily be John Jones," I didn't mentally fight the implication of the long o in "J'onzz" too hard.

 

First time I saw Martian Manhunter, the editorial note said it was pronounced "John Jones". It may not make sense phonetically, but I'll accept that pronunciation. 

Do you also say "Froderick"?

Why isn't it "Joan Jones"?

"They told me it was it was 'John Jones'."

"Well, they told you wrong, didn't they?"

Also, "The exception [gross] proves the rule [boss, cross, floss, gloss, joss, loss, moss, toss]."

The pronunciation of an individual name comes from its best source.  In real-life cases, that would be the person who bears the name---he certainly decides how his own name is pronounced.  In prose fiction, that's not always the case, but it can be, such as if a character's dialogue asserts the proper pronunciation.  Or even strongly implies it, as in the case of J'onn J'onzz.  On other occasions, the authoritative source on the pronunciation of a prose fictional character's name can be the editor or the writer.  I go by the best source, even if I have been pronouncing the name incorrectly for a length of time before.

In the expression "The exception proves the rule", the word proves refers to its secondary definition of "tests the worth or validity", as in the term proving ground for a location in which the military tests the efficiency and capability of weaponry.  Ergo, "the exception proves the rule" does not mean that the exception demonstrates that the rule is true (the primary definition of prove); rather. it means that the exception tests the validity---in this case, the consistency---of a rule.

Hence, the pronunciation of gross with a long o establishes that the practise of pronouncing words ending in "-oss" with a short o is not consistent.

Which, it just occurs to me, might be what you meant all along, Jeff.

"In the expression 'The exception proves the rule', the word proves refers to its secondary definition of 'tests the worth or validity', as in the term proving ground for a location in which the military tests the efficiency and capability of weaponry."

I disagree.

"Ergo, 'the exception proves the rule' does not mean that the exception demonstrates that the rule is true"

On the contrary, that is exactly what it means, or rather that there is an unstated rule governing the situation at hand (else why would there be an "exception"?). For example...

NO PARKING: Am I allowed to park on this side of the street? How do you know if there's not a sign that says, "Parking Allowed"? But there is a sign the says, "No Parking on Sundays." As long as it is any other day of the week, then parking is allowed because the exception ("No parking on Sundays") proves the (unstated) rule ("Parking is allowed").

SLIPPERY WHEN WET: You are walking through a park on a sunny day and come to a footbridge. You wonder to yourself, "Is this bridge slippery?" There is a sign noting the exception ("Slippery when wet") thereby proving the rule that it is not slippery otherwise.

It's not that I'm mentally fighting the implication of "Jones"; it's that I have to mentally fight to accept it. The first time I heard someone say "John Johns" aloud I knew it was right in the same way I knew I had been mispronouncing Jarella my whole life when I heard Bob say it correctly. 

If anything, the word "gross" disproves the rule that words ending in "-oss" are pronounced with a short o.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

"Ergo, 'the exception proves the rule' does not mean that the exception demonstrates that the rule is true"

On the contrary, that is exactly what it means, or rather that there is an unstated rule governing the situation at hand (else why would there be an "exception"?). 

To me, your argument validates a different expression; to wit, "The exception proves the existence of another rule."  Similar, but not the same as the original expression.  In the topic at hand, that would be one rule of English pronunciation states that words ending in "-oss" are pronounced with a short o; however, another rule states that some words can be properly pronounced with a long o.

However, your argument is excellent and authoritatively backed---as I learnt from doing a bit of research into the expression after reading your post.  Much of your argument stems from the original Latin expressions from which the common English aphorism is derivative.  I won't go into that here, mainly because I think you're already familiar with it.  Suffice it to say, it's authoritative enough that I must give it credence.  Your approach has rhetorical merit.

Yet, it is grammatically illogical.  That's the advantage of the "proves = tests" argument, considered the scientific sense of the expression.  If "proves" means, in this case, "tests", then "The execption that proves the rule" is grammatically logical.

Two camps, two valid interpretations.  The benefit here is that, whichever definition of the expression to which one ascribes, both have essentially the same effect:  to draw attention to the rarity of the exception.  This is what virtually all who use the phrase mean to convey.

Well done, sir!  I salute your reply.

I think "the person who bears the name" does decide how the name is pronounced. As I understand it, Theodore Roosevelt pronounced his name ROSE-evelt. Franklin Roosevelt pronounced his name ROOS-evelt. Most people seem to favor the former when speaking of either man.

I've observed that people using assumed names have a tendency to select a name (at least a first name) that either sounds similar or close enough. This is probably so that if someone calls out their name they will respond. So it make sense that J'onn J'onzz would pick John Jones as his Earth name.

The person who bears the name does decide how the name is pronounced ... until he or she gets tired of correcting all the people who say it wrong. 

For example, The Washington Post recently ran a profile of actor Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, The Boys, several Spike Lee films) that surprised me with this bit of information:

Despite the long and distinguished résumé that encompassed the first half of his career, Esposito felt boxed in. To begin to understand that feeling, you must first come to the realization that you are probably pronouncing the man’s name wrong. He is Giancarrrlo (roll that “r”) EsPOSito, not Giancarlo EspoSITO.

Similarly, I saw actress/Sports Illustrated model/media personality Chrissy Teigen on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon say her name is properly pronounced "TIEgen."

Then there's John Constantine of Vertigo's Hellblazer. In that comic, he consistently maintained his name is pronounced "ConstanTINE", but on TV, he doesn't, even accepting "ConstanTEEN" as correct.

"Well done, sir! I salute your reply."

I am honored.

And, of course,  I concede that the official pronunciation of the Martian Manhunter's name is "John Jones." I also agree that "the pronunciation of an individual name comes from its best source," but, given the "rule" that "the authoritative source on the pronunciation of a prose fictional character's name can be the editor or the writer," I can think of an example that "proves" it.

I'm sure you're at least passingly familiar with Marvel's Micronauts, based on Mego's short-lived toy line. Micronauts had it's own sanskrit-like alphabet, to which one issue published a key. The thing I liked about it was that certain common articles as well as consonant blends were represented by a single character. BUT... for whatever reason, the alphabet did not contain the letter Z. As you may know, the main villain of the Microverse was Baron Karza. As you might expect, the lack of that letter prompted questions from readers about how, exactly, the Baron pronounced his name. the editor replied that the letter "z" was represented by the blend "th" and his name was actually pronounced "Kartha." At that point, much as with your example concerning "Moan-Ell" (which strikes me as being very much tongue-in-cheek, BTW), I dutifully began thinking of the character as "Baron Kartha" until I finally determined the editor didn't know what he was talking about.

Here's another example I try (but often fail) to respect because it comes from the writer. Mike Grell's Warlord had a supporting character named Machiste, which I always pronounced Mock-EEST-ay. When the first tpb collection was released, Mike Grell wrote in the introduction, "I don't know how you pronounce it, but I say MOCK-i-stay."  I think I've got that right (or close to it). 

Me too

Richard Willis said:

Being old as dirt, I used to see Hermione Gingold on the Tonight show, etc.

Her name was always pronounced with the hard G.

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