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    Here begins your journey into the mind of everybody's favorite asian, and I don't mean Jet Li.
What follows is the somewhat inane, mostly irrelevant, and self-important ramblings of a man on the brink of madness.
Welcome... to the Chu.

Saturday, December 25, 2004
 A Matter of Inflection    [L]

This thought struck me recently: why do we pronounce Christmas the way we do?

Spelled out phonetically, it's "'kris-m&s" (M-W).

Yet, the root word Christ, is pronounced "'krIst" (M-W).

I don't know anyone who says it "'jE-z&s 'kris", do you?

Merriam-Webster clears it up:
Etymology: Middle English Christemasse, from Old English Cristes mæsse, literally, Christ's mass

I'm thinking that in the hustle and bustle of the season, compounded by the increasing trivialization of the event, has led us to change the meaning, and subsequently the pronunciation, of Christ-mas. It hasn't truly been a celebration of Christ's birth in a long time - the commercial aspect has long dominated the day.

So here's my plan: Let's fight back.

Let us say Merry Chris-mas no longer.

From now on, it's Merry Christ-mas.

And bah humbug on anybody who takes offense.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

I'm with you in the spirit of your rebellion, but I think our pronunciation of Christmas has more innocent roots. As far as linguists know, the Old English vowel "i" did not sound like the i in "right", but either like the i in "tin" (or in "Christmas") or the e in "be". So it's possible we should be saying "'krEs-m&s" but more likely we've got it more or less right as is. Etymologically speaking, at least.

Be that as it may, Old English phonetics doesn't excuse the distracted spectacle of modern Christmas. "Merry ChrIstmas" would certainly serve as a needed reminder, even if it's not historically accurate. I say go for it.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/29/2004 01:52:00 AM      

^^^ speak up ^^^