Valentine's Day anti-labiality

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Today's Frazz:

This particular peeve was not previously known to me, but there's a Facebook page, among other independent pieces of evidence.


  1. Mai Childehoud said,

    February 14, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

    LanguageLog linking Homestar Runner is perhaps the greatest thing I've seen all day.This is the first I've ever heard of that peeve, too—or rather, I've heard the mispronunciation, but I've never figured it to be anything other than an intentional mangling of the original word, imitating children's speech.

  2. Theodore said,

    February 14, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

    What?!? Not in the Eggcorn database?

  3. Joe Fineman said,

    February 14, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

    At a certain stage in my life, I had learned the song "Clementine", and I had learned to read the hour hand but not the minute hand on the clock. I decided that when the hour hand was between numbers, it was *clementime*.

  4. maidhc said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 2:28 am

    At some point I noticed there are a lot of people who say "Sam Fracisco", and ever since then it's bothered me.

  5. eva said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 5:04 am

    In German, it's "Valentinstag". This year, a teacher I know was apparently asked this by one of her pupils why it was called "Valendienstag" (valen-tuesday), even though 2/14 can obviously not be a tuesday every year.
    I don't think this is common enough to be a peeve, but I found it rather cute.

  6. Dan Hemmens said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 7:58 am

    What?!? Not in the Eggcorn database?

    As I understand it, it isn't an eggcorn (unless you're assuming that people mistakenly think "valentimes" means "time to valen" which unless they're making some peculiar pun on "valency" seems unlikely). I think it's just that (from my limited, nontechnical understanding) in spoken English it's relatively common for "m" and "n" sounds to blur into each other.

  7. Faldone said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 8:19 am

    Anyone knows it's Balancedime Day. So called because you balance a dime on the kitchen counter before leaving for work in the morning.

  8. Faldone said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 8:36 am

    Of course this doesn't answer the linguistic question: Why do people say "valentimes"? It's not like it's assimilation, anticipatory or lag, at a distance or anything. There must be some linguistic explanation.

  9. Rodger C said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 8:47 am

    Well, it could be dissimilation, but I think it's primarily a children's mistake based on, e.g., "Christmastime."

  10. DEP said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 8:58 am

    For some reason, it always seemed to bother the lady in our school who worked in the liberry.

  11. Ellen K. said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 9:53 am

    Maidmc, I'm guessing with "Sam Francisco" something different is going on. My guess is that people aren't actually saying it with a bilabial nasal [m], but, rather, a labio-dental [ɱ]. That is, the quite normal process of articulating a nasal consonant in the same place as the consonant that directly follows. And even though it's written as two words, it's a single morpheme for most English speakers, which may increase the likelihood of that sort of articulation. So, a different process than an intervocalic /n/ becoming /m/.

  12. Eric P Smith said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 10:04 am

    It wouldn't be so bad if it didn't always land in Febyury.

  13. Mar Rojo said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 10:08 am

    True story: Many of my Spanish friends think I'm talking about a famous-whisky-brand day when I ask them what they are getting their partner/s for Valentine's Day.

  14. David L said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 10:09 am

    @maidhc: I agree with Ellen K. Sam Francisco is what I say, more or less, but then I grew up with a version of English in which 'seven' in normal conversation is 'sem.' I think, although I'm not sure, that there's a sort of vestigial glottal stop between the 'e' and the 'm' — it doesn't sound quite the same as 'pro tem,' for example, but I may be fooling myself that there's a difference.

    I lived for a while in Sussex, and there's a village called Pevensey that the locals pronounce Pemsey.

  15. Mar Rojo said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 10:13 am

    I say "samwich".

  16. David L said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 10:17 am

    Not "sammidge"? But yes, that's a familiar example of the same thing.

  17. Michael Cargal said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    Several Republican candidates say they are running for "present" of the United States, though they act as if they are running for the past.

  18. Terry K. Howell said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 11:38 am

    …I grew up with a version of English in which 'seven' in normal conversation is 'sem.'

    Were there many Russian immigrants in the area? The Russian word for seven is семь, pronounced [sʲemʲ].

  19. Toma said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 11:47 am

    Is it a similar phenomenon at work when someone says "summbitch" for "son of a bitch"?

  20. Boris said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

    The condensation of words is common and most people who do this don't realize they're doing it until it's pointed out to them. And even then, it's hard to accept. It is claimed that Philadelphians pronounce the name of their city as "fluffia". Well, yes, that's one way to represent what it sounds like, but I can't imagine that it's really a regional variation. Anyone (with a reasonably similar accent) would produce that when saying it quickly.

    My grandfather, a non-native speaker once asked me why Americans pronounce 20 as "tvonny". I told him that he was mistaken, but then upon thinking about it, "tvon" and "twen" are indistinguishable and, of course, when your native language has no "w" sound, it's natural to hear the version that doesn't have it.

  21. Bob Davis said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

    I remember one word from a fifth century Roman schoolboy's list of words to pronounce correctly: "Oculus, not oclus." considering "ojo", "occhio" and "oeil" in the Romance languages, the list did not work so well.

  22. David L said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

    No doubt it was slurring and outright elision of syllables that led to the downfall of the Roman Empire, just as sloppy pronunciation is a sign of moral degeneration in our own benighted times.

  23. Dan T. said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

    French seemed to take the slurring and dropping of syllables to a greater extreme than the other Romance languages, but it's still regarded by many as the classiest of those languages.

  24. Sili said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

    I was thinking of submitting this for Annals of Peevology since the grousers were immediately out in force in the comments.

  25. Mark F. said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    It's not "Sam Francisco", it's Sampm Cisco, or maybe even Samcisco. Or sumpm like that. (I'm cheating here and using the p to represent a glottal stop.)

    In a while we Americans won't be able to laugh at the British any more for Grennich and Wusstisher.

  26. James Iry said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

  27. Rod Johnson said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

    I liked the Yahoo Answers guy who attributed it with a straight face to "congenital brain defects."

  28. Jangari said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

    I don't think 'Valentime's' has anything to do with assimilation, as all the other changes in this thread are. Samwich, SaɱFrancisco, etc. are perfectly normal instances of anticipatory nasal assimilation, where the place of articulation of a following (adjacent) consonant spreads onto the nasal. Also as someone noted above, there's no conditioning environment to trigger any assimilation. Dissimilation is also unlikely. So Valentime's looks more like an eggcorn to me, in that it is a plausible, but misanalysed folk etymology.

  29. Faldone said,

    February 15, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

    Febyury is, of course, a result of the same thing that gave us liberry, infastructure and speak. Summbitch is just simple assimilation.

  30. Ellen K. said,

    February 16, 2012 @ 12:33 am

    Febyury is, of course, a result of the same thing that gave us liberry, infastructure and speak. Summbitch is just simple assimilation.

    Except "febyury", in addition to losing the /r/, gains a /y/ and loses an /a/. Or did someone forget the A when writing it? While the /r/ changing to /y/ is familiar to me, how I say it, the reduction to 3 syllables is a new one to me.

  31. C Thornett said,

    February 16, 2012 @ 2:20 am

    @Ellen K. Some dialects of UK English, including some high-status ones, reduce syllables in a number of words–Feb-ry, being one example and secretary becoming sek-e-try another. Library can be li-bry, and jewellery (UK spelling) is jew-ler-y. There are also reductions which don't involve dropping syllables which are not common in US English.

  32. briggslaw said,

    February 16, 2012 @ 3:04 am

    One of our local radio meteorologists (from NOAA radio, not commercial) consistently says tempacha, and every time I hear her I wonder if her whole graduating class says it that way.

  33. Rodger C said,

    February 16, 2012 @ 8:10 am

    That's awful. I've never heard "tempacha" in Weshchinny.

  34. Jerry Friedman said,

    February 16, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

    @Faldone: Are you sure "Febyury" (AmE "Febuary") isn't the same thing that gave us "suprise" and "govenor", where the first of two [r]s disappears in any environment? I admit "speak" didn't work that way.

    @Rodger C: Sorry, couldn't get "Weshchinny". West Someplace?

  35. Chandra said,

    February 16, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

    @Michael Cargal – Or from the past, even.

    @Jerry Friedman – I'm guessing West Virginia. But then I'm from Tranna, so I could be wrong.

  36. Mein Name said,

    February 17, 2012 @ 2:28 am

    In German "haben" (in formal speech pronounced [habən], english: "to have" or the first person singular of it) often is pronounced somewhat like [haʔm], where the glottal stop is spoken with the lips closed, in less formal speech and even as [ham] in slang and dialect. The spelling "ham" often is used to indicate dialect or informal speech in literature.
    Please excuse my english, for i'm not a native speaker.

  37. Rodger C said,

    February 17, 2012 @ 8:19 am

    @Jerry Friedman: Yes, West Virginia. Or Wesfiginia.

    In a while we Americans won't be able to laugh at the British any more for Grennich and Wusstisher.

    Well, around here we already pronounce Wytheville and Barbourville as Wiffle and Barvle, though actually spelling-pronunciations are becoming more common among the young.

  38. Xmun said,

    February 17, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

    I spent the first 25 years of my life in the UK, and FWIW I've always pronounced Greenwich as Grinnich. As for American place names, how (for example) did the yod get into Houston [hjustən]?

  39. xyzzyva said,

    February 18, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

    Let us not forget that the original Spanish has [ɱ] in [saɱfɾanˈsisko].

    Not that this is the likely explanation, given that [losˈanxeles] managed to acquire /dʒ/ in the transition.

  40. Terry Collmann said,

    February 26, 2012 @ 11:32 am

    Then there's that Irish delicacy the hang sangwich.

  41. Treesong said,

    August 7, 2014 @ 9:30 am

    The Merriam-Webster New International 3rd Edition has dozens of pronunciations for 'temperature', the most cut-down being 'temch@', homonymous with 'tempt you'.
    I have a comic at home in which a gluttonous character creates enormous 'sangridges'. I now find that this is purportedly the standard for 'sandwiches' in Barbados.

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