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Fabulous Feb You Airy
Posted: 01 February 2014 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]
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It’s that pesky month, February, again. I always have a cpu cycle or two pause in my mind when writing it because there is clearly no “r” after the “b” when I say it in my head, or aloud for that matter. It’s Febuary, just not spelled that way.

According to Daily Writing Tips list of 50 incorrect pronunciations I need to avoid, I’m just dense because there is clearly an “r” after the “b” and so if you’re not pronouncing it, you’re simply wrong, with the implication of stupid, as well, it seems.

Hmm. According to our friends at Merriam-Webster, the only pronunciation offered is the r-less version.

The lovely people at Dictionary.com offer us [feb-roo-er-ee, feb-yoo‐] clearly giving my silent r pronunciation the status of sitting at the child’s table while the adults discuss serious matters in the dining room.

So, am I in the annointed majority, or is this a regional thing, or do I simply belong in the kitchen with the waitstaff (says the former bus-boy)?

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Posted: 01 February 2014 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Here’s another former busboy who never says the /r/.  (It’s not a point of pride or a shibboleth, it’s just how I grew up saying it).

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Posted: 01 February 2014 03:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Here in the UK the r-less pronunciation is widespread. I too pronounced it that way until I was around 20 when, for whatever reason, I changed to the r pronunciation. Picture is similar, very often spoken as pitcher in some British registers.

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Posted: 02 February 2014 01:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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R-sayer, here. Without the /r/ it sounds very foreign, to me.

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Posted: 02 February 2014 04:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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According to our friends at Merriam-Webster, the only pronunciation offered is the r-less version.

Um…, please look again. Both are there.

I started r-less, decided in my teens I was wrong. Half a century later I’m starting to revert.

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Posted: 02 February 2014 05:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Nort for your comfort - In their website, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/february the ‘r’ is clearly dropped from the accompanying audio pronunciation guide (ie feb-you-ary)

Thanks http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/february

[ Edited: 02 February 2014 12:00 PM by Skibberoo ]
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Posted: 02 February 2014 07:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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That’s because the r-less pronunciation is the first one given.  (BY the way, you might want to fix your link; it doesn’t work as is because of the comma.)

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Posted: 02 February 2014 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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All of you (by your own accounts) seem able to achieve an enviable consistency, far beyond anything I can claim. There are many separate and distinct states of mind and body, in each of which I pronounce “February” (and many other words) differently. Seven specimen cases (to mention but a few) are given below:

1) When talking to a normal, reasonably intelligent, English speaker with good hearing.
2) Ditto, but a less reasonably intelligent one, with bad hearing.
3) When talking to a non-English speaker with no-matter-what-kind-of hearing.
4) While shambling along at top speed, in a desperate attempt to catch the last bus home (my wife needed the car)
5) While using my cellphone on said bus, when 30 other people are also using their cellphones (in my country, this is the normal situation on any bus, however short or long the journey)
6) While eating shawarma
7) While picking my teeth after finishing the shawarma.

(I deleted “while swimming underwater”: for my own good, I’ve given up doing it).

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Posted: 02 February 2014 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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It seems to be whatever pronunciation dominates, or is popularized.

Often was pronounced with a t sound until about the 17th century.  Gradually the sans t sound predominated amongst the educated , in North America and Great Britain. It seems that the earlier pronunciation was disapproved.

But now it appears the t sound, although not equally popular, is widely used and has become standard .

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Posted: 03 February 2014 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I pronounce the “r” but at the end of that middle syllable—as in Fe ber ary (with the r sliding into the following “ar"). Maybe more like Fe be rary. I think that puts me on the stair case between upstairs and downstairs.

On the word “often” I don’t pronounce the “t” directly. Not sure how I would describe it; but my tongue goes against my teeth as if I was going to pronounce the “t” but then the back part of my upper plate lets the air out into my nasal cavity.

Now I’ve entirely over-analyzed this so that I have pronounced it differently every time I have said it in the last 3 minutes.

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Posted: 03 February 2014 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I don’t pronounce the “r”.  February is one that has bothered me since grade school.  The other one that used to puzzle me was “Wednesday”.

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Posted: 03 February 2014 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Library is another word which often loses one of its rs, at least here in the UK. The OED doesn’t list it as an alternative pronunciation but one very often hears library as libr-y here.

[ Edited: 04 February 2014 01:35 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 03 February 2014 08:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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In the U.S. a lot of small children drop the first “r” and pronounce it “libary” but I think it’s far less common to persist in adulthood than “Febuary” is.

I’m sure the natural tendency of so many of us toward the “Febuary” pronunciation was influenced by “January” when we first learned the months of the year when we were, what, 6 or 7?

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Posted: 04 February 2014 01:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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To qualify my previous post I should say that in the UK, with the non-rhotic r, it’s very easy in library for the first r to be slurred in with the second, and one hears something midway bewteen lib-rary and lib-uhry.

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Posted: 04 February 2014 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Then there’s words like speak where the R-lessness has become the proper pronunciation.  And spelling.

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Posted: 04 February 2014 04:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I suspect that Online Etymology Dictionary may not be this Forum’s most-loved source, but to amplify Faldage’s somewhat cryptic reference here’s what the site has to say: 

“speak (v.) Look up speak at Dictionary.com
Old English specan, variant of sprecan “to speak, utter words; make a speech; hold discourse (with others)” (class V strong verb; past tense spræc, past participle sprecen), from Proto-Germanic *sprek-, *spek- (cf. Old Saxon sprecan, Old Frisian spreka, Middle Dutch spreken, Old High German sprehhan, German sprechen “to speak,” Old Norse spraki “rumor, report"), from PIE root *spreg- (1) “to speak,” perhaps identical with PIE root *spreg- (2) “to strew,” on notion of speech as a “scattering” of words.

The -r- began to drop out in Late West Saxon and was gone by mid-12c., perhaps from influence of Danish spage “crackle,” also used in a slang sense of “speak” (cf. crack (v.) in slang senses having to do with speech, e.g. wisecrack, cracker, all it’s cracked up to be). Elsewhere, rare variant forms without -r- are found in Middle Dutch (speken), Old High German (spehhan), dialectal German (spächten “speak")."

( http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=speak&allowed_in_frame=0 )

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