After reading about the curious history of the word February and learning that some old guys really into Latin are the ones that made our months so hard to say (it’s always those guys), I thought I would look up what the names of our months would look like if those übernerds hadn’t inserted their massive quill pens into the natural course of spoken language. Not that I have anything against our months, that’s just how it happened, but I was curious what it might sound like if history had gone a different way.
So these are the months in Old English. You can click the link for their meanings and more info. They’re in the same order as our current calendar.
Ærralīþa, Midsumormōnaþ, Sēremōnaþ
When we adjust for 1700 years of sound change we get the following. I assumed we’d drop the ‑month, as we’re OK to say May and June and Rethmonth and Soilmonth sound too hard to say in Modern English. If you disagree then tack the reduced pronunciation [mənt̪] on the end where necessary.
(For these I went with the option that created the most symmetry, cf. the -ember endings in a third of our months.)
We would start to pronounce some of these a little more contracted over time, but of course we would keep spelling them the same way (just like February and Wednesday).
It sounds so weird to say, “Last Weed I went to Chicago”, but that’s what we’d do. The same way we don’t think about soldiers when we talk about the month March, we wouldn’t be thinking about gardening. (We would be thinking about marijuana legalization! OK, jk. But if you said, “Last Weed I went to Seattle”, it might trigger people to start the puns. Although maybe we wouldn’t have the slang term weed if that was the name of a month. It might have sent us after slang terms that are less talked about. (You say the names of months a lot more than you talk about grass.))
We might still call the holiday Easter, or we’d vary it by saying Easterfest or Eastermas, or might veer to calling it Pasch [pæʃ] or just Passover. Saying, “Is Easter in Easter or Reth this year?” could get confusing, but I guess that hasn’t stopped us before.
And lastly, here’s my take on the idea behind each of the month names:
Æfterragēola get through winter
Þrimilcemōnaþ the cows make a lot of milk now
Ærralīþa easy weather, Midsumormōnaþ partay, Sēremōnaþ omg it’s f-ing hot and my skin is burning off cause I’m from England
Þrilīþa that other month
Mædmōnaþ flowers, Æfteralīþa that was a crazy party or winter is coming
Weodmōnaþ ah my aching back, Hærfestmōnaþ food
Winterfylleth winter is coming
Blōtmōnaþ gods save us
Ærragēola get through winter