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To the Editor:—
We hope Dr. Viets' plea, Laënnec vs. Laennec (JAMA176:1052 [June 24] 1961), to drop the tréma (ë) from Lænnec's name, and to pronounce it Lennec or Lannec (as most Americans and Englishmen always do) will not deceive many as to how the great Breton pronounced his name.The name on his monument in Quimper and on his granite tombstone at Plouaré is spelled Laennec, for the tréma was not in use until the end of the 19th century, and in older French printing, words (like païen and naïf in modern books ) were printed with no sign over the vowel, which was given syllabic strength. In Lænnec's day, as today, the Latin diphthong Æ or æ was used when a single syllable was formed by these vowels. When the vowels were both enunciated they were printed separately. Plouaré is pronounced Plu-ar-ay; it is a suburb of
Dock W. Laënnec vs. Laennec. JAMA. 1961;178(3):353. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040420093028