Happy February! This month not only knocks January off the calendar for another year (Hooray, unless one lives in The Caribbean or south of the Equator), but also provides us with Punxsutawney Phil, who predicted an early spring this morning (Hooray, again). Native Pennsylvanians Paul Douglas and yours truly (Paul from Lancaster, me from Pittsburgh) I think share the same joy to learn this Groundhog Day's "prediction" from our fellow Pennsylvanian (Phil) gave us, and everyone who hates extremely cold temperatures, a much-needed morale-boost, given the proclivities of this winter's sub-zero snaps here in Minnesota.

In my opinion, there's much to cheer about February: Valentine's Day, Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays culminating in Presidents Day and knowing the next month on the Gregorian calendar is March, when spring officially begins. (Sorry, Phil. We also rely on the calendar. :) )

Sadly, February is also the most mis-pronounced name of any month. I, and perhaps others who care about the English language, cringe when hearing newscasters, reporters or commercial announcers pronounce it Feb-yew-ary. My grade achool teachers back in the 1940s would become almost apoplectic if any student in our classes pronounced it with a "yew" instead of a "roo".

Indeed, as anyone with at least kindergarten education should know, February is pronounced as it's seen, i.e., Feb-roo-ary. When people are paid very large six-and-seven-figure salaries to professionally pronounce everything correctly (at least that's the way it used to be, i.e., caring the pronunciations were correct), it's egregious and sad to know younger people today are accepting those mis-pronunciations as though they're correct. They, of course, will pass it along to others, and the dumbing-down of America will continue because either the anchors, reporters and/or commercial announcers either don't care about their mis-information being imparted as gospel, or they just weren't that properly educated themselves.

There are many grammatic and pronunciation dis-services to viewing and listening audiences, resulting in the mis-education of our children and other viewers and listeners, unless the children and others have been taught otherwise at home or in school. To me, another at the top of my list is the word route. It's pronounced "root", and is one of those French words that skipped across the Atlantic pond, like restaurant, that never changed its spelling or meaning. It's another word for, and means, road. Duh! Too many in the media mis-pronounce it "rowt". A rout, with no "e" at the end of the spelling, means a decisive victory (Duh, again), and is not a road. Nat King Cole's great 1950's song hit is "Route 66", wherein the late, great singer prononced it correctly, i.e., as "root". The television series "Route 66" was also pronounced correctly, i.e., "root", and co-starred a fomer "making-the-rounds" acting pal of mine, in the mid-1950s, before "Route 66", i.e., George Maharis.( SIDEBAR: Geroge was going to give up acting in 1957, but I'm glad he stuck with it, and I'm certain, based on the success of "Route 66", he was glad he stuck with it, too.. Will share that story in detail next time, but the "Route 66" analogy triggered my geezer memory, once again. :) ) Even lat week's episode of VEGAS on CBS had the actors repeating the word route as "root", consistently.

My venting about the sloppiness of many of our news and talk broadcasters won't change anything, but if even one of them begins to do their homework, it can benefit a lot of viewers who look to them to be the "final authority".

Thanks for taking the time to read these thoughts. Additional ranting, venting and occasional grumpiness can be seen and heard on my SENIOR MOMENT webcasts, the subject of which changes every Monday. Just log on to www.startribune.com/video, then to the Lifestyles link, then to SENIOR MOMENT.



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Extreme cold memories

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"Route 66" and George Maharis (continued)