Monday, February 12, 2018


Diane from Charlevoix asked if anyone still pronounces the first r in February. My observation is, not many people do.

People tend to take the easy way out when pronouncing words like February, which are mildly difficult to say. The Oxford English Dictionary remarks that the proximity of two r’s is one cause of the problem. This also occurs with the word library, but more people shudder when hearing liberry than when hearing Febuary. The OED also thinks that the proximate month January plays a role in making the missing r seem normal.

Physically, some gymnastics are involved when pronouncing February. Both lips are compressed when pronouncing the letter b. Then you have to pull your tongue back quickly and curl its tip upwards toward the tooth line to form the letter r. I find that it helps to ignore proper syllabication (FEB-RU-AR-Y) by thinking FEH-BREW-ARY. After all, we have no trouble asking for a brew.

The name of the month came from a Roman rite of purification. It usually involved flowing water, not beer.

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about two year’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.


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