I was amazed to read in yesterday's NYT that the French pronunciation of fleur-de-lis (or fleur-de-lys) sounds the final s: "fluhr duh LEES," in the TImes's transcription. Amazed not because the pronunciation is odd, but because I've never heard that there was an alternative to the usual American "fluhr duh LEE." I mean, the world is full of people reminding each other that vichyssoise and coup de grace (sorry, no time to find accent marks) do sound those final consonants. And just last week, I was reading that Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, would not (in French) sound the t in Port: "pore oh prahns," it would be. So why, in all the decades since I studied Little Lessons in French in an antiquated Book of Knowledge encyclopedia, have I never heard the pronunciation police address fleur-de-lys?
I think it must be because the Anglicized pronunciation has been grandfathered (or great-grandfathered) into our vocabulary. Charles Harrington Elster, the pronunciation maven, doesn't list the word in his "Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations." The 1889 Century Dictionary doesn't have an entry for fleur-de-lis, but it has the verb fleurdelised, "adorned or ornamented with fleurs-de-lis," and the sole pronunciation given is (in Times style) "fluhr-duh-LEED." My 1969 American Heritage and my circa 1963 Funk & Wagnalls give LEE as the pronunciation of the singular, but oddly, both sound the s in the plural: fleurs-de-lis is "fluhr duh LEES."
So maybe I've never even heard the French-style fleur-de-lis; certainly I've never heard anyone's pronunciation corrected. But if there are people out there trying to re-Frenchify the word, do let me know how the campaign is going.