Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Are You A Grammaticaster????

Are you a grammaticaster?  Do you know what one is?  I was pretty sure it was the equivalent to a grammarian but looked it up just to be sure.  You know it is sad when you look up a word…and have to look up other words in the definition because you don’t understand them.  Anyways….a grammaticaster is:  A pejorative term for a grammarian, especially one who is concerned with petty matters of usage.  Ok…so what is pejorative?   Back to the dictionary….it means:   1. Tending to make or become worse.2. Disparaging; belittling.  As a noun it is a disparaging or belittling word or expression.  My topic today is the pronunciation of the word February.  How do YOU pronounce it?  Why is it such a big deal?  Why is "February" so often pronounced without the first "r"?  More and more you seem to  hear "Feb-U-ary" instead of "Feb-RU-ary." So I went looking for the correct way to say this word.  I found out that while "Feb-RU-ary" is still considered the standard pronunciation, most dictionaries recognize the pronunciation of February without the first "r" ("Feb-U-ary") as an acceptable variant.  I remember learning the word in elementary school.  I remember learning it with the “ru” sound…..but as I practiced saying it here at my desk I found that my years of living in the south have caused me to drop the “ru” for the “you” sound.  Lord Have Mercy!  Will the world end????  Well….i have discovered that not everyone is tolerant of this “mispronunciation.”   In his Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations (2005), purist Charles Harrington Elster defends the "traditional and cultivated pronunciation." February, he says, "is a different word and a different month, with a peculiar spelling, a peculiar pronunciation, and a very peculiar number of days, all of which adds up to the fact that we must treat the creature with particular respect."  Yet I have found that in common speech, the shortest month has long been abused. “ In The New Schoolmaster, a one-act play that appeared in Sargent's School Monthly in May 1858, Mr. Hardcase says of February that "there is a prejudice in favor of an 'r' at the beginning of the second syllable; but if you choose to drop it, where's the harm?"  Here! Here!  Mr. Hardcase.  I discovered in my searching that the loss of the first "r" in the pronunciation of February is (in part) the result of a process called dissimilation (or haplology), where one of two similar sounds in a word is sometimes changed or dropped to avoid the repetition of that sound. (A similar process sometimes occurs with the pronunciation of library.)  Ok….I teach high school and it drives me nuts when my students ask to go to the liberry.  I was delighted when ours became a Media Center!  Whew….that nipped that problem in the bud.  “There are, of course, many discrepancies between spelling and pronunciation in English. As David Crystal reminds us in The English Language, "[S]peech came first, in the history of our species," and "English spelling hasn't been a good guide to pronunciation for hundreds of years."  With that said….you also have to look at where you live.  I was born and raised in South Florida….my neighbors were from Harwich Port, Queens, Upstate New York, Cuba, Pennsylvania, Ohio….and I have lived in the Bible Belt for over 30 years….several weeks ago a sweet, gentile, little southern lady told me my speaking voice sounded flat….like I was from Kansas. (Sorry those of you who live there)…I went home and taped myself speaking…and she was right.  I don’t have that soft sweet southern drawl…I saw  aww n for on….she says…own for the same word.  I say “boys”….she says baw weeez.  I asked her once during the holiday if she got taw weez for Christmas when she was younger….and if she sang Jaw weee to the world at Christmas time.  She did not have a clue what I was implying….and answered me with a resounding southern….yeah us (that is yes in the rest of the country.)  You have got to love it! 


The Bug said...

I'll tell you the truth - I thought the first r in February was silent! But I'm from NC, so what do you expect?

But I DO say Lie - Brayer - re. Ha!

The Bug said...

Hey - remind me to send you a copy of today's Frazz comic (unless you've already seen it) - you will definitely enjoy it :)

Sweet Tea said...

Poinsettia - I probably didn't spell it right but I do try to say it right. It's another one of "those" words...Princess informed me last week that I pronounce the word "height" wrong. I say Hi-th and she says it should be hy-t. I stand corrected. I never knew!...My Mom always refers to my sister and I as her two dar-ters (daughters). LOL!!