The month is five days old, the Super Bowl is upon us, the days are getting longer, if only ever so slowly, and there is a snowfall warning in effect, no doubt about it, it is February. I used to dread this time of year, a very long stretch without a holiday (in Quebec we have two long weekends in a row at the end of June, beginning of July, so we don’t get a day off in February). With Easter coming late this year there is indeed a long haul ahead.
So rather than fight it, I have decided to embrace the dead of winter, darkness and all. It dawned on me while in Quebec City that fighting winter is a losing battle, a mug’s game. The way to go is with the flow, even if the flow is slow due to being frozen.
Perhaps it is this new approach to the shortest month, but for some reason I have noticed that no one seems to pronounce it the way I was taught. There is an ‘R’ in the middle of the word. Feb-ROO-ary; it is not Feb-U-ary. Several years ago I took the time to look up this little pet peeve of mine (I even went to the lib-ary to double-check) and was surprised to find that both pronunciations are now acceptable. Evidently if a word is used enough, the Keepers of English throw in the towel and call it a word. In my opinion, the most egregious example of this dereliction of duty is the establishment as a word, based on “misdivision”, of “nother”! As in “Feb-u-ary is a whole nother month”.
That was not the case when I was in elementary school..
After driving home the point that the R must be sounded, they then went on to completely confuse us by pounding into our fertile young brains that although there is a ‘T’ in the word ‘often’ it must not, under threat of corporal punishment, ever be sounded. The word is pronounced ‘offen’, never ‘off-T-en’. Do you ‘sof-T-en’ your clothes, or your stance on February for that matter?