New names for the days of the week
By Murray Bourne, 30 Dec 2009
As the year draws to a close, I'm reminded of a proposal I read somewhere.
The names for the days of the week in English, and most European languages, are based on ancient beliefs. The origin for these names (and even why we have 7 days in a week) is not so clear, but in the days when you could actually see the sky and people were trying to figure out how the universe worked, it's not surprising the heavenly bodies were used in the naming system.
|Tuesday||Mars||Tiu's day (Tiu is the god of war, as is Mars)|
|Wednesday||Mercury||Wodan's day (Woden means "violently insane headship")|
|Thursday||Jupiter||Thor's day (god of thunder)|
|Friday||Venus||Freya's day (Freya is the goddess of love, beauty, and prolific procreation)|
|Saturday||Saturn||Saturn's day (god of agriculture)|
So considering most of us never even see the planets (due to air and light pollution), perhaps we need to consider new names for the days of the week. This proposal is quite mathematically neat (and uses Monday as the starting day).
There's actually a language that has such a system - Chinese. The names and meanings are:
|Sunday||星期日||Star period day|
|Monday||星期一||Star period one|
|Tuesday||星期二||Star period two|
|Wednesday||星期三||Star period three|
|Thursday||星期四||Star period four|
|Friday||星期五||Star period five|
|Saturday||星期六||Star period six|
There's an interesting history of Japanese and Chinese day names here: Bathrobe's Days of the Week in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese. According to that site, the Chinese used a 10-day per week system up until 1912 when the imperial system collapsed.
So what do you think? Is it time to re-consider the names of the week to a simpler and more logical system?
See the 3 Comments below.
31 Dec 2009 at 12:17 am [Comment permalink]
Portuguese also does this sort of thing. Sunday is domingo, Monday is segunda-feira (2nd day), ..., Friday is sexta-feira, and Saturday is sabado.
My brain already had Monday to Friday labeled as days 1 to 5 of the school/work week, so I always have to double check myself when speaking Portuguese to make sure I'm saying the day I mean.
31 Dec 2009 at 9:21 am [Comment permalink]
Thanks for the input, Sue and good to hear from you.
I'm wondering how many other languages use such a system already?
25 Jan 2010 at 8:17 am [Comment permalink]
I quite like the idea but I have two considerations.
1) If we went with something like "oneday","twoday"... then it seems that we should be going with "oneday" being the Sunday rather than Monday to keep in sync with God's Sabbath day. Also, "Twoday" not being "Today" could be confusing.
2) How about all new short names that are the same number of characters, with each name starting with a unique character. We'd really need Dr Zeuss on the job do to this well...