Have you ever heard someone pronounce Saturday as "Sara-day" or maybe "Sair-day"?

I’ve an in-law who does this. His parents were New Englanders, but by the time he was born, they lived in New Jersey and later, Ohio. He continues to reside in Ohio to this day and is about 70.

  • It appears there are AmE regional variants as shown here thetfp.com/tfp/general-discussion/… – user 66974 Jan 3 '18 at 12:49
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    It just sounds like an example of slurring, or perhaps a glottal stop (ie "sah'urday"), which is common in many accents, for various reasons. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glottal_stop – Max Williams Jan 3 '18 at 13:09
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    More like: Sa-er-day, and not Sara-day. – Lambie Jan 3 '18 at 14:23
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    I have a family member here in prairie Canada that says Sa'urday, with a barely audible interruption for the missing letter T. – Jim MacKenzie Feb 2 '18 at 15:12
  • In the UK there are a lot of dialects that include the word Sat'dy as in "I'll see thee Sat'dy". All these pronunciations are local variants. – BoldBen Mar 4 '18 at 19:55

/ˈsædərˌdeɪ/ > [ˈse˞deʲ]

This isn’t all that uncommon. See the Carpenters’ Saturday, Saturday, ever-lovin’ Saturday!

Merely recite the days of the week as fast as you can starting with Monday, like little kids do, and you always wind up hearing /ˈserdeɪ/, said [ˈse˞ˌdeʲ].

The same sorts of phonological reductions occur in words like bitterly, bladdery, brattery, caterpillar, chattering, clattery, flattery, nattering, rattery and so on, especially under fast-speech rules. It’s just more extreme here.

The normal American pronunciation of Saturday is something you might hear phonemically as /ˈsædərˌdeɪ/, but is actually pronounced more like [ˈsæɾɚˌdeʲ] phonetically.

It then readily loses that first flap because the paired rhotics in [ɾɚ] blend together and leave just a single rhotic.

Phonemic /t/ is never pronounced [t] intervocalically in American, only ever as a coronal flap [ɾ] which is near an denti-alveolar [d], or else as a glottal stop [ʔ]. Both are easily deleted at speed.

Once deleted, that [æ] comes into contact with the [ɹ], at which point the tense–lax distinction between tense [e] and lax [æ] is neutralized just like it is with merry/marry/Mary, leaving you with [eɹ], also written as the r-colored [ e˞].

The final syllable’s /deɪ/ then becomes just [deʲ] or even just [de] spoken quickly in one’s hurry to get to saying Sunday.

Which all boils down to something like [ˈse˞de] with just four spoken sounds.

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    "Phonemic /t/ is never pronounced [t] intervocalically in American", That is not true. It all depends on the speaker but above all the speed of delivery. When speaking slowly, educated AmE speakers would pronounce intervocalic t. – Lambie Jan 3 '18 at 14:40
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    @Lambie Those are Un Na Tu Ral Pro Nun Ci A Tions that do not occur in connected speech, let alone under allegro rules. – tchrist Jan 3 '18 at 14:41
  • Not really. I live in New England and one cannot say that the intervocalic t's are never pronounced. I am referring to connected speech. When speech is slower, they are often heard. In fact, the lemme sees become Let me see, and the whaddya think become What do you think. – Lambie Jan 3 '18 at 14:52
  • @Lambie So long as you continue to use the Latin alphabet to vaguely allude to pronunciations rather than the International Phonetic one to discretely describe them, I lament to report that I shall never understand what you do me the honor of attempting to communicate. – tchrist Jan 3 '18 at 15:02
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    You know what I mean: bɪtn̩ and ˈsætɚˌdeɪ. where the t is pronounced in slower speech in American English. – Lambie Jan 3 '18 at 15:20

My family moved to south eastern Canada from Ireland. My great grandparents being GAELIC Speakers (Non English), my grandparents' mother tongue in childhood was Gaelic but they began English early and became primarily English speakers with slight accents. Now their kids, my dad and his siblings spoke English as their only language but pronounced Saturday SARA-DAY.

As a 1st generation Canadian, my Dad and his siblings all pronounce "Saturday" as "sara-day". It is common in Eastern Canada. There is a mixed accent Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and NFLD have a very similar dialect and accent to Gaelic Irish.


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