Today is the first Wednesday of the new year.
And most of us pronounce the word WENS-day, even though it has an extra D near the beginning.
So how come many of us don’t pronounce it WED-ns-day?
HowStuffWorks took a look at the history of the word and found some answers.
To start, the word Wednesday comes from Wōdnesdæg, an Old English word with Germanic roots.
The original version of that word meant “day of Wōden,” in honor of the Anglo-Saxon god.
He’s known by a number of other names; Marvel Comics fans know him as Odin, Thor’s complicated father.
In the Anglo-Saxon tradition, Wōden created humans, among other accomplishments, so no surprise that he would get his own day.
Old English gave way to Middle English, and eventually to modern English, and the spelling kept the first D in even though somewhere along the way it stopped being pronounced, at least in some parts of the world.
This happened sometime before Shakespeare, because in one of his works he spells it as it’s pronounced: Wensday.
But that didn’t catch on, and English kept the extra D even though a lot of people weren’t saying it out loud.
There’s a term for this – syncope – and it’s actually a common occurrence in English.
Think of the big holiday last month.
Most people pronounce it CHRIS-mas instead of saying the T in the word outright.
Or we say CHOCK-lit instead of “chock-O-lit.”
Meanwhile in other languages, Wednesday has a whole different backstory.
The Spanish and French words for this day of the week are references to the Roman god Mercury.
And in German, the word for Wednesday is “Mittwoch,” which literally means “midweek.”
It was around this time in 1939 that Lyra Ferguson of Missouri set a goal: she wanted to travel to each of the then-48 states and find a job in each of them, for just one week.
And she came close.
While she had no luck in Arizona, Nevada or New York, she got 45 in all.
Why ‘Wednesday’ Isn’t Pronounced the Way It’s Spelled (HowStuffWorks)
45 Jobs in 45 States (Weird Universe)
Photo by plenty.r via Flickr/Creative Commons