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September 10 2010

It's Joss - Not Josh! A blogger describes her reaction when someone gets Whedon's name wrong.

Would you believe that in our eight years of being online, this is Whedonesque's first entry devoted to this particular topic despite umpteen trillion comments on the matter.
No joke? 8 years and not once?
I really don't think we have had an entry solely devoted to the misspelling of Joss' name.
Wow, Simon, that's surprising. Also unfortunate. I also feel much sympathy for the fans of the little-known but nevertheless talented scrapbook-maker and oatmeal enthusiast: Josh Whedon. They can't talk about him at all without folks like us getting all up in their faces, assuming they are mispronouncing Joss's name.
I once had to listen through a report given in school about "Josh" Whedon and grit my teeth when the teacher who assigned the projects didn't even correct her. My inner fan had really hard time not simply yelling out, "His name is Joss you idiot!"

I'm pretty sure I still mumbled it uncontrolably and then ignored said idiot for the rest of college.
It's short for Joseph, yes?

I seem to recall hearing that somewhere.
My favorite overheard remark ever - at the rally for the Screen Writers Guild in Cambridge, MA. As I sat in the Unitarian church waiting for the speakers to begin, a young man in a know-it-all voice behind me said to his companion: "I'm Josh Whedon's biggest fan." It was all I could do not to turn around and correct him :-)
Whenever I meet someone named Josh, I have the hardest time not calling them Joss.
Josh, it's what's NOT for breakfast.
I think it's funny when people get the name wrong, but I don't much care either mostly because people I've known my whole life still get my name wrong. It does bug me though when media people get it wrong because they should either know better or check for accuracy before posting something. If they get something so easily verifiable wrong, what else is wrong?
ugh, my brother now gets it wrong deliberately just to be amused with my instant "HELLS NO" expression.

Oh, and when the mistake is done by a "fan" or in a "report"...

Another one that irks me is James Marsden for James Marsters - not really hard unusual names. REALLY.

Unlike ;p
My husband's name is Josh... I sometimes accidentally call him Joss. He's not entirely pleased when I do that.
Hey, it's the price you pay for having One of Those Weird Names. And most of us didn't get to choose those names ourselves. ;)

(It's a Chinese word for "luck", right?)
"You said [Joss] last night."

"I did not. It was...a moan."

"Okay, you moaned [Joss]."
He's got a funny nickname for a common name that looks and sounds like it's a misspelling/pronunciation of a popular nickname for another common name. Whose fault is that? I say pick your battles... (as Joe seems to prefer.)

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2010-09-11 02:04 ]
Joseph Hill Whedon is his name. The Man They Call Josh.

Re: "joss" as luck - here's what I've found at Merriam Webster: It's "Chinese Pidgin English, from Portuguese deus (god) from Latin: a Chinese idol or cult image."

And from a very thorough explanation of the practice of burning joss sticks ; > this:

"The proper chinese term for joss stick is called "Xiang 香". It is basically a slender stick of incense burned before a joss by the Chinese. Actually, the joss stick (incense) is not just used by chinese, but also by Indians in religion such as Hinduism. Burning joss stick is known in chinese as "Shao Xiang 烧香"

I've always found that it's just common courtesy, as me mum used to say, to get someone's name right. Not all that hard, unless it's a language you're not used to pronouncing...
We've all been here, I think.
Yeah,'s not like he's the only Joss out there! There's Joss Ackland (Actor - bad guy in one of the Lethal Weapon movies, recently played an aging rock star in Craig Ferguson's "I'll Be There") and Joss Stone (Singer - FEMALE).

But, yeah, when folks call Our Big Purple "Josh" I get kinda grr. The only excuse that could sort of fly is if they've only heard it said, and too quickly - "Joss Whedon" could sound like "Josh." If you've got hearing problems.
No joke? 8 years and not once?

I suspect I deleted them all ;).
I just corrected a student at school for this on Thursday. She was all like "Josh Wheton is a great director". I listend to the conversation for a moment then felt compelled to explain to her and her friends that no, Joss Whedon didn't make "Stargate".
Once at a party I was so drunk, my wife overheard me talking about "Josh Weldon" and insisted we go home.
Probably the most sensible thing she's ever done.
Josh Whedon...didn't he make that TV series with Sarah Michelle Geller?
Nah, that was GG Abrams.
The person who turned me on to Joss's work was a good friend named Jocelynn, who everyone refers to as Joc (pronounced "Joss").
It's funny because a part of me dies inside everytime I see someone misspell his name, but when my friend Josh is on MSN for some reason I always call him Joss by accident, I think it's because Buffy is always on my brain.
A friend of mine calls him 'Josh Wheelie' just to annoy me.
Someone made that mistake at his recent talk at the Sydney Opera House when they got up to ask him a question. It was hilarious - you could feel the entire room twitch slightly in irritation, and a goodly number of slightly strangled sounds of frustration coming from around the room.
I suspect I deleted them all.

This would not surprise me.

As someone who's had my name mispronounced all my life, I do find it an interesting subject.

Cause, seriously, how hard is it to look at the spelling of "Joss" and still say it wrong? Or even worse, print it wrong, when it's so easy to look up online?

I listend to the conversation for a moment then felt compelled to explain to her and her friends that no, Joss Whedon didn't make "Stargate".

Nuh uh! Seriously?

[ edited by menomegirl on 2010-09-11 17:45 ]
" hard is it to look at the spelling of "Joss" and still say it wrong?"

Oh, I don't know, it just sounds to me like maybe there's a whole lot of imbibing going on. ; )
I used to it, I guess (not that anyone I know ever gets his name wrong since they never mention it.) My father was incapable of remembering song lyrics correctly, or of accurately imitating a celeb he didn't like. My fantasy-reading friends at college were absolutely convicned that Pratt and deCamp's hero Harol Shea was called Harold deShea because that's what the characters in the 2nd & 3rd stories in thes eries called him. And my best friend in the 80s insisted he enjoyed watching PAtrick McGoohan in a series call Secret Agent *Man* and that "the Saint" was created by Leslie *Carruthers*.
I just remembered that my boyfriend at the time that I discovered Joss Whedon thought that it was a foreign name of some kind and pronounced it "Yoss". He might have even had me temporarily convinced.

...Sorry, Joss. At least I ditched the boyfriend.

Thanks for the info about the Chinese roots, QuoterGal. The pidgin thing does make more sense when I think about the sound of the word.
Enjoy being a fan of a man still on the fringe of public knowledge. The Avengers is gonna change that REAL quick.

In conversation about The Avengers direction announcement at Comic-Con I had a friend ask me who SHE is. Not that that would be a bad thing of course, I was just surprised by his ignorance after he earlier had said he was a fan of Firefly when it was originally aired.

*Imagines a female version of Joss* *SWOON*
"Yoss" GUFFAWS!!!!

People are ALWAYS mis-pronouncing my name. I will tell them twice (2) and then I don't waste my breath telling them again.

My name is "Nyan". I have been called everything from Nadine to Ninja. I kid you not. I work in a clinic so.....I have a name tag and everything. And yet... It cracks my co-workers up every time.

It's pronounced like Diane with an "N".
Now pronounce Tim Minear's name (last name, not first).
alcabong, will it though? I think it might be the beginning of something, but the people who pay attention to the directors of them Marvel films are the people who already know who people like Joss are already. If The Avengers does really well, he'll get another gig and then another and hopefully after that he should be more in the public mind (a la, JJ Abrams at least).

I doubt he'll become a Lucas or Spielberg (are there many more famous famous directors?), but if another one of them were to come along, I'd bet money on it being Joss. :)
Mine ear. It's like something out of Shakespeare.

"Thou hast wounded mine ear."

"They hurt Tim?"

"No. Mine ear." *gestures*

"Yeah, Tim Minear."

"Not Tim! Mine ear!"

"There's another Minear?"


I could go all day.
Every time someone says Josh Whedon, a little puppy dies, FACT. I knows these things. And also, the Paparazzi calls him JWhed, FACT II, for truth. And also, also, this is Joss in character form.

(_ :^(D)
Even Google gets upset about this. I searched for "Josh Whedon" just to see what it would say, and it snarkily asked if I meant "Joss Whedon" all the while refusing to tell me anything about Josh Whedon. In other news, I'm not sure I feel good about this new "Google knows what you're typing before you type it!" feature.

I'm with alcabongTV though....enjoying the fringe (and associated superiority, natch) while I still can.
I love "Yoss". So... I dunno, Swedish sounding.

"Yoss is my Boss."/giggle

When you put "Joss is My Boss" into the Bad Translator! for 56 translations you get "Gosubosu."

So - I think he should change his name to "Gosubosu" so people can remember it more easily.
My name is "Nyan". I have been called everything from Nadine to Ninja. I kid you not.

Wait wait being called Ninja is a bad thing?

...Oh, you probably just don't want anyone to know you're a ninja. Sneaky!

I love "Yoss". So... I dunno, Swedish sounding.

I think his confuzzlement came from getting used to pronouncing the names of my Czech relatives. "I know it's spelled Jan but he's my Uncle Yahn, okay?"
I hate it when people mispronounce and misspell Joss' name.

It could be worse, though. I took a class at university called Communication: Interpersonal Relationships in the Buffyverse. We'd read academic journals then apply the knowledge with examples from the show. We watched Welcome to the Hellmouth and The Harvest for our first class, then Chosen for the final after we turned in our term papers). All the students in the class were already fans who'd specifically requested to enroll in the course (run by a professor who's published several times at Slayage). And yet, this one guy without fail would always, always, always mispronounce Giles' name. And every time he did it, twenty college students would glare at him and say, "It's Giles, not Guyles!"

We eventually took to calling him the Buffybot.

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-09-12 05:03 ]
Is Joss just a nickname for Joseph? I'd always heard that he legally changed his name to Joss when he first came to LA.
I suspect Xantastic1316 may have been making with the funny there Matt7325 (cos, y'know, Joss isn't short for Joseph, Joe is ;). But yep, as QuoterGal mentions above, his given name is Joseph Hill Whedon, he changed it to Joss fairly young I think.

And in fairness, there aren't that many Josses because Joss is Joss, rather than short for Jocelyn/Josslyn (although if you've heard it spoken you surely shouldn't have much trouble spelling it).

I've always found that it's just common courtesy, as me mum used to say, to get someone's name right. Not all that hard, unless it's a language you're not used to pronouncing...

Here's my quandry on that QG (re: pronunciation specifically) - is it right to say it how the name's owner says it or right to say it how you do ? In the US for instance (this is 'Yoss' adjacent ;) you often seem to use hard letters in names that in Europe would be soft e.g. Scarlett Jo-hansson and not Yo-hansson, Ko-wal-ski and not Ko-val-ski, in e.g. 'Kovacs' the 'C's hard (like 'kick') rather than soft (like 'church'). Or is that regional (because i'm pretty sure they said Kovach in 'E.R.') ? And my own personal favourite, Rodney Mckay from Stargates SG1 and Atlantis. He (and everyone around him) says it "Mac-A" whereas I say it "Mac-eye" (cos that's just how it's pronounced in the UK, particularly in Scotland obviously - if I heard a British child say it their way i'd actually "correct" their pronunciation). It tickles me cos I can be reading something, hear "Mac-eye" in my head, realise it's actually referring to him and then have to go back and re-read it in my head as "Mac-A" ;).

And if it's how they say it, should we start saying "Paree" instead of Paris ?

[ edited by Saje on 2010-09-12 20:49 ]
Excellent standup comedian Mike Birbiglia is cursed with an extremely easy-to-fuck-up name. But he's taken that and spun it into comedic gold, in a bit culminating with a recollection of one MC simply refusing to even TRY to get it right: "Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Mike BAHOOSKY!"

So, y'know, could be worse. Also, have you ever YouTubed the progression of Eliza, in the ramp up to DH's premiere, as she gamely tries to correct one clueless talk show host after another on the pronunciation of her last name? "Rhymes with PUSH-ku." She eventually gave up, and cringeworthy variants ensued.
Saje: Here's my quandry on that QG (re: pronunciation specifically) - is it right to say it how the name's owner says it or right to say it how you do ?

It does get tricky and potentially contradictory, or at least inconsistent, but here's how I approach this:

I pronounce a person's name how they do it - it's so personal, I defer to them. I would also pronounce a company name how they do it, as well - i.e., I pronounce Estée Lauder as Estay Lawder - though it seems wrong to me. (And yet Estée was American and the name was short for Esther, so go know.)

However, when you get to geographical names, it gets more complicated - I usually say the city/country/whatever name the way it is pronounced in the country where I am - i.e., in the U.S. I would say Pear-is, but in France, where I am speaking (my crappy illiterate version of) French I would say Par-ee.

There's no way to be a real purist about this one - unless you want to go and learn all the names natives use themselves for their own country, like Hyestan (or Hayastan, depending on who you talk to ; > ) for Armenia, etc. etc. And then you must be prepared to have very few people in your own country (like the U.S. or England) know what you're referring to. I have noticed that Armenians speaking English cal it Armenia, while they refer to it as Hyestan in Armenian.

My rule-of-thumb is to get as close as possible to what the entity itself would prefer, as long as you are able to make yourself understood by others, including and especially the folks you're speaking to.

Of course, in the case of Joss vs. Josh - Josh is just the wrong word altogether and not a question merely of pronunciation... ; >
Indeed, not much ambiguity there, 'Josh' it ain't.

I pronounce a person's name how they do it - it's so personal, I defer to them.

Yeah, that's broadly how I do it too although until I know how they say it i'm obviously going to say it how I say it and even then, sometimes i'm going to struggle just because the "right" way is so ingrained into me (with McKay for instance, it's hard not to see how the Scots/Irish pronounce it as correct in some sense just because it's a Scots/Irish name. And if i'm honest, having gone to school in England and been told that how I say something is wrong just because it's not the English way, I may also have a wee chip on my shoulder about it ;).

With place names it varies a lot though, more context dependent maybe cos where do you draw the line ? I usually call Holland the Netherlands on here for instance (out of respect for the Dutch folk on here) whereas among my friends I might be more likely to say Holland (particularly when talking about football for some reason). I never pronounce it "Paree" except when exercising my own (woeful) French. And I always call Scotland Scotland even though a Scots Gaelic speaker might make a case for it being Alba (we're obviously both natives and neither English nor Gaelic are "official" languages so who wins ? Me cos English is spoken by vastly more people or them because Gaelic is in some sense more "native" ?).
If I'm in a conversation with someone who refers to him as "Josh," I'll (subtly) correct them by just referring to him as "Joss" in reply, rather than explicitly pointing out their mistake. Perhaps it's too subtle, though, as we often hear things as we expect them to be pronounced, so they may continue to hear "Joss" as "Josh." (E.g., if you hear "'scuse me while I kiss this guy" it's hard to unhear it.)
I have a good friend who is quite intelligent - and a Joss fan - who always seemed to be saying 'Josh' instead of 'Joss', but she speaks so fast it was difficult to tell, so I would usually do the same as SpendTheNightAlone and try to fit 'Joss' into the conversation.

However, on Friday, I finally corrected her and she said some people just pronounce names or words differently, such as herb pronounced with the 'h' or without. I countered that 'Joss' was spelled differently than 'Josh' and should therefore be pronounced 'as written'. I don't know if I convinced her or not!
Some people just pronounce names differently??? That's ... a very odd thing to say. Given that Josh is most decidedly not an alternate pronunciation of Joss. Hm.

But I do have a little sympathy for the mispronouncers. For many lurky years, I pronounced Saje in my head as "Sah-jay" (soft j). Now I realize that everyone, including all six Saje's themselves, pronounce it Sage. So officially that's how I say it too, or how I would say it if I "said" it, but secretly in my head it's still Sahjay. It's very hard to change what you've been saying all along, even if you haven't been saying it out loud.
"For many lurky years, I pronounced Saje in my head as "Sah-jay" (soft j)."

catherine, me too! I never pronounce anything instinctively right. And then if I try to go against my initial impulse, thereby circumventing the problem...that turns out to be wrong too. Because my "instincts" of course told me my initial impulse was wrong. ;P

I'm glad to finally (as of this moment) have an official(?) pronunciation for saje. It only occurred to me about a month ago that "sah-jay" might be wrong. After about five years. *rolls eyes* So he turns out to be a misspelled herb...

(Some years ago I was informed by a Cheyenne medicine man that they only use a type of sage that he called "man sage" in sweat ceremonies. It is a nicely smelling, single stemmed, upright growing herb.)


In other naming speculation...

Joss from

The meaning of the name Joss is Little Goth (?!)
The origin of the name Joss is English
Notes: Originally a diminutive of Jocelyn or Joshua. Joss Whedon, television writer. Joss Stone, singer.

Joss from

Gender: Boy
Origin: Hebrew
Meaning: He will enlarge (My world. : ) )
Form of: Joseph
**Pronunciation: N/A** :D
That's interesting that it's actually a form of Joseph, never knew that (though i've noted before that all the Whedon boys have Biblical names, maybe he wanted to keep the spirit of that while changing the letter ?). Think I remember reading somewhere that Joss took it from the Chinese association with luck though (derived, as QuoterGal mentions above, from the pidgin English via Latin for a Chinese idol) ? Or am I going doolally ?

Also, 'man sage', like it. Wonder if there's an 'atheist sage' ? ;)

It's very hard to change what you've been saying all along, even if you haven't been saying it out loud.

True, McKay gives me no end of dissonance. If he ever drank Whyte and McKay's (whisky) in the same sentence I think my brain would dribble out my nose.

... I finally corrected her and she said some people just pronounce names or words differently ...

Yeah, differently to correct in that instance ;).

In the Joss case it's puzzling to me since 'Josh' is a fairly common name/diminutive spelled and pronounced one way and 'Joss' is a maybe unusual but hardly unheard of name (at least as a diminutive of Josslyn/Jocelyn) spelled and pronounced another and added to that, the 'sh' sound is widely used and understood, it's not like it's a sound that doesn't occur in English (i've given up trying to get southern mates to pronounce 'Loch' with the guttural 'ch' sound and though I know how Schrödinger - of cat fame ;) - should be said, i'll quite often just say it Schrohdinger, mainly, must be said, out of laziness) but as I say above, people really do pronounce names differently, even when they're spelled exactly the same so in principle I have a fair bit of sympathy for that idea (up until the point where the owner tells you how to say it anyway).
On the Joss thing:

1. 'Josh' is just easier to say than 'Joss.' Literally. It uses less facial muscles. If you figure in inattention, tiredness, lack of tongue coordination and the like...
2. The two names sound so similar. If I was a non-native speaker, I would have a hard time hearing the difference.
3. 'Joss' is far less common than 'Josh' and people tend to see/hear what they expect.
4. There aren't enough cowboy movies/shows made anymore to educate the ignorant.*

That said...It's still kinda annoying.

*Apparently Joss is also a possible nickname for Josiah.
ETA clarification

[ edited by BreathesStory on 2010-09-15 15:34 ]
Hmm, that site also has 'Jock' as a nickname for Jacob (maybe that's true in the US but over here Jock is for John - always, in my experience) so i'm not totally sold (Josey I can see for Josiah. Good cowboy name too ;).

Re: the rest, I dunno, 'Josh' and 'Joss' sound similar but they also sound different enough to be, y'know, different although i'd wager that 'Josh' is much more common in the US in general and also proportionately more common than Joss (for Josslyn/Jocelyn) over there too so that perspective may not cross the pond intact. We also may pronounce sibilants more distinctly too, early Wesley used to slightly overdo the 'c' in 'speciality' for instance in trying to highlight that difference (one of the few flaws in Alexis Denisof's accent IMO). This is the perennial problem with discussing accents across regions BTW - what sounds quite different to me may not to you and vice versa. Really must learn those phonetic thingamies you see in dictionaries one of these days ;).

I understand people just flubbing it though (i.e. making a mistake through tiredness etc.) that's easy to do with the simplest, most familiar words.

Hard to judge for us I think really, we're way too used to 'Joss'.
but secretly in my head it's still Sahjay.

Me, too. Just can't get myself to pronounce it the other way, no matter how wise he is. :)

Plus I like sahjay. It reminds of Sahjhan, who is evil and funny. Just like Saje--except the evil part.

(I'm killing time on jury duty. Wonder how many dead threads I can visit...)
jcs: Plus I like sahjay. It reminds of Sahjhan, who is evil and funny. Just like Saje--except the evil part.

Yup, exactly - except that I retain the evil (and the robes) but remove the smoking and interesting skin issues. ; >
I have to say, this is one of the most entertaining thread in a long while.


QuoterGal you rock my world
Sahjay? For me it has been Sahj, i.e. like Sage but with a softer szch sound at the end. Nice to know how it's meant to be said though.
Oh, I feel much better that I'm not the only one silently mispronouncing Saje. Those people who mispronounce Joss, though - *scoff* ;).
I'm starting to think *I* might be pronouncing it wrong ;).

(I'm killing time on jury duty. Wonder how many dead threads I can visit...)

Makes me wonder how that film would've turned out if Henry Fonda had wireless internet access.

Just like Saje--except the evil part.

Phase One: Appear not evil.


(Muhaha. Muhahahahahahahaha. Muhahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. *kef*)
I'm starting to think *I* might be pronouncing it wrong ;).

Well, I didn't want to be the one to say it, but, um, yeah.

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