LPD and Crystal, 1998 record the pronunciation of the surname Amis as if it rhymed with 'GAME-iss' (IPA: /ˈeɪm ɪs/). (LPD also records a 'non-standard variant', with the last syllable less distinct: IPA: /ˈeɪm əs/.) There is a third tradition among British academics, of pronouncing the names of the two English writers Kingsley Amis and his son Martin Amis as monosyllables, a homophone of the plural noun (and singular verb) 'aims', rhyming with 'games' (IPA: /ˈeɪmz/).
The surname Amis has several variant spellings. Amies is the same name - Sir Hardy Amies (1909 - 2003) was a designer of clothes, famous for being Queen Elizabeth II's dressmaker for 50 years: the firm he founded still bears his name, and is still (2008) active. The commonest form of the surname in the USA is Ames.
Do not confuse the surname with the adjective amiss
either in spelling or in pronunciation.
The adjective amiss means 'wrong', 'erroneous' or 'astray'. It is spelled with two '-s-'s, following an '-i-': the surname has one '-s-', following '-ie-' or a straight '-i-'. The adjective has the stress on the second syllable, and sounds like 'a MISS' (IPA: /ə ˈmɪs/).
- Kingsley Amis (1922-1995) began his career as a Lecturer in English. He became famous for his novel Lucky Jim (1954) which became famous as a comic novel about life as a university lecturer. He is seen as one of the 'angry young men', a description with which he disagreed. Altogether he wrote more than 20 novels, with many short stories, poems and various essays. He produced anthologies of poetry and of Science Fiction. Although he became a member of the Communist Party in 1941, while at Oxford University, he allowed his membership to lapse during his military service, and after the invasion of Hungary in 1956 by the USSR following the Hungarian Rising, he became a militant anti-communist. Indeed he, and his great friend Philip Larkin (whom he met at Oxford), became known for their reactionary and right-wing views. He was knighted (becoming Sir Kingsley Amis) in 1990.
- Martin Amis was born in 1949. His first novel was The Rachel Papers (1973); others have included Money (1984), London Fields (1989) and The Information (1995). He has also written essays and short stories. He is known for controversial views on Islam, given in such writings as The Second Plane: September 11: Terror and Boredom (2008).