Leibniz as Etymologist.

I was amused by this post at Kenny Cargill’s Reading Notes in Russian Intellectual History, quoting Leibniz’s “odd etymology for the Russian word for Wednesday (sreda), as though the word derived from the name of Zarathustra”:

His [Zarathustra’s] great learning caused the Orientals to compare him with the Mercury or Hermes of the Egyptians and Greeks; just as the northern peoples compared their Wodan or Odin to this same Mercury. That is why Mercredi (Wednesday), or the day of Mercury, was called Wodansdag by the northern peoples, but day of Zerdust by the Asiatics, since it is named Zarschamba or Dsearschambe by the Turks and the Persians, Zerda by the Hungarians from the north-east, and Sreda by the Slavs from the heart of Great Russia, as far as the Wends of the Luneburg region, the Slavs having learnt the name also from the Orientals.

Actually, Russian среда [sredá], which also means ‘milieu’ and ‘medium,’ is (like those words) simply a semantic extension of the word for ‘middle’ (which is borrowed from Church Slavic; the native Russian form, also occasionally used, is середа [seredá]), Wednesday being in the middle of the week. I was briefly excited when Cargill checked this against his copy of Terence Wade’s Etymological Dictionary of Russian, with which I was not familiar — I thought it might be a useful alternative source of etymologies — but a bit of googling turned up this StackExchange question, which revealed that the Wade book only covers 1,500 words.

Comments

  1. Ксёнѕ Фаўст says:

    Oddly, while Wednesday is ‘middle’ — as if Sunday = 1, the other days are numbered starting from Monday (the words for Tuesday, Thursday, Friday are derived from second, fourth, fifth).

    Kudos to Leibniz for mentioning Drawänopolabisch, the freak among Slavic languages,

  2. Good grief, Leibniz; not only did he bungle the Russian, but he missed the fact that Persian “chaharshanbe” just means “fourth day” (analogous to “doshanbe,” “seshanbe” and so on).

  3. And I learn that the city of Dushanbe got its name because it used to have a Monday market. Cool!

    Veering off, where did the tradition of naming children Tuesday (as in Weld) or Dienstag (as in Emil and the Detectives) come from?

  4. he is wrong on etymology of ‘sreda’, but his basic point stands. Slavic religion has its source in Iranian religious ideas.

    Even the word ‘god’ is borrowed in Slavic languages from Iranian.

  5. Tuesday Weld was born Susan Weld in 1943. Her younger sister pronounced Susan as /tutu/, which became a family nickname; she changed her name legally to Tuesday when she was 16. Similarly, Tuesday Knight was born Melody Knight in 1969; her stage name is presumably a pun.

    Dienstag is properly “der kleine Dienstag”. I remember seeing an explanation of why he’s called that (again, it’s a nickname), but I can neither recall it nor find it now.

  6. When I first took an introductory German course in middle school, I developed a mnemonic so I could remember which one is Dienstag and which one is Donnerstag: first you’re dyin’, but then you get a donor.

  7. Amusingly, the German word for Wednesday (Mittwoch) also means middle of the week. I guess Leibnitz was carried away by a hypothesis.

  8. Eli Nelson says:

    I can think of several other examples of other days of the week being used as personal names in English, but I wouldn’t call it a tradition–most of them are fictional. There’s Robinson Crusoe’s man Friday, Thursday Next from the Jasper Fforde series of the same name, and Wednesday Addams.

  9. Add the English given names April, May and June.

  10. George Gibbard says:

    >Robinson Crusoe’s man Friday

    In part of West Africa, one is named according to the day of the week one is born on, for example
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akan_names
    (if one is male) Cudjoe for Monday, Kwaku for Wednesday, Kofi for Friday, Kwame for Saturday, Kwasi for Sunday (I give only the ones that are familiar to me, so maybe to others).
    In addition to the Akan, a version of the system is also used by the Ewe, and I don’t know who else.

    In the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, on the other hand, one is named according to one’s birth order, and similar names are used across different language families: so a first-born child is named Kuku or Koko if male, a female is Kaka: a second-born child if male is in Moro Kwëɽi (in other languages Kodi), if female Kënni or Nënni. A third-born male is Ŋallo or Callo (c as in English ch). There are different names up to a sixth child, and then one goes back to the beginning.

    Among Sudanese Arabs, a child born after the death of their older sibling may be named ʕawaḍ ‘replacement, compensation’.

  11. In Mongolian tradition, days of week are based on Tibetan and Indian names for planets.

    Wednesday in Mongolian is lkhagva from Tibetan ‘lhag pa’ – planet Mercury (compare with French mercredi),

    Thursday is purev (Tibetan ‘phur bu’ -Jupiter (jeudi),

    Friday is baasan (Tibetan ‘pa sangs’ – Venus (vendredi),

    Saturday is byamba (Tibetan spen pa- Saturn, here, European analogue is found in English Saturday, not French samedi which is based on Hebrew ‘Sabbath’),

    Sunday is nyam (from Tibetan nyi ma – Sun),

    Monday is davaa (from Tibetan zla ba – Moon, both English Monday and French lundi mean Moon Day)

    and finally, Tuesday is myagmar (from Tibetan mig dmar – Mars, compare French ‘mardi’)

    European names of days of week are based on Hellenistic astrology which is also the source of Indian tradition adopted via Tibet into Mongolian.

    Eurasia is surprisingly small place, everyone and everything is linked to each other if you dig deep enough.

  12. George Gibbard says:

    >I give only the ones that are familiar to me, so maybe to others

    I have also known a Kwabena (Tuesday) but I don’t know of any famous Kwabenas.

  13. Practice of naming people after day of week is very common in Mongolia.

    Usually, they also add another Tibetan root resulting in complex names like Lkhagvasuren (Wednesday guardian) or Davaadorj (Monday Thunderbolt).

    Short versions are also common.

    Baasan (Friday) is quite popular even though it is spelled and pronounced exactly like the past perfect tense of Mongolian verb ‘baakh’ – “to defecate”.

  14. On a related note, Leibniz himself coined the verb goropiser, referring to Goropius Becanus’s strange and often ridiculous etymologies.

  15. European names of days of week are based on Hellenistic astrology which is also the source of Indian tradition adopted via Tibet into Mongolian.
    AFAIK, Hellenistic astrology goes back to Mespotomian astrology, which is also the source of Indian and Tibetan astrology.

  16. Trond Engen says:
  17. -AFAIK, Hellenistic astrology goes back to Mespotomian astrology, which is also the source of Indian and Tibetan astrology.

    No, Indians borrowed seven day week from Greeks, not directly from Mesopotamia. It is relatively late borrowing – from 6th century AD.

    I think Bathrobe has more to say on this topic.

  18. In the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, on the other hand, one is named according to one’s birth order

    Same among the Winnebago (Hocąk) of US Wisconsin and Nebraska. However according to Paul Radin (writing in 1923), originally there were rules for naming based on order of birth, using meaningful names; if I remember correctly I also heard in my time simply ‘first boy’, ‘second girl’ and so on. Traditionally the problem of many children having the same name was solved by the general Woodland custom of taking on several names throughout one’s life.

  19. This whole ‘week starting with Monday’ thing, I blame it on the ISO. Danish calendars were printed with Sunday in the first column when I was growing up — so yes, Wednesday is in the middle. (Presumably lots of other calendars as well, but I can’t bear personal witness to that). Portuguese (and Church Latin?) still have Monday = segunda-feira / secunda feria.

    (People did know their Bible well enough to realize that God rested on the seventh day (the Sabbath), and that day was Saturday, while Sunday is the Christian day of rest because it celebrates the resurrection. Hence dies dominica instead of prima feria).

    The mapping of days to seven heavenly bodies seems to be a Hellenistic invention, but did they think of one of them as first — or is that emergent from the juxtaposition with the Jewish/Christian week? More precisely, did they pick one of the heavenly bodies to be first?

  20. Wikipedia: “[Bishop] Ussher further narrowed down the date by using the Jewish calendar to establish Creation as beginning on a Sunday near the autumnal equinox. The day of the week was a backward calculation from the six days of creation with God resting on the seventh, which in the Jewish tradition is Saturday—hence Creation began on a Sunday.”

  21. On a related note, Leibniz himself coined the verb goropiser, referring to Goropius Becanus’s strange and often ridiculous etymologies.

    My very first post!

  22. This whole ‘week starting with Monday’ thing, I blame it on the ISO.

    I think you are formally right to do so, but the (originally American) concept of the “weekend” as Saturday and Sunday, which is an early-20C idea, certainly presages the notion that the beginning of the next week must follow the end of the previous week. Nevertheless, the U.S., which retains (shall we say?) independent traditions of mensuration, continues to place Sunday in the leftmost column of general-purpose calendars (the kind that hang on the wall and generally include art), as opposed to those used to schedule appointments.

  23. In modern Greek, as I’m sure some of you already know, Sunday is called “Kyriake” (the Lord’s day). The name is also used as a given name for women and, in its masculine form “Kyriakos”, as a first name for men. Wednesday is just “Tetarte,” meaning “the fourth one” (that is the fourth day of the week counting from Sunday). Then we’ve got Friday as “Paraskeve” (meaning Preparation, obviously an allusion to the preparation of the Jewish Sabbath). This is also used as a first name for women and men (as “Paraskevas”). As for Saturday, “Savato”, again it’s the source of the names “Savas” and “Savoula” or “Savena”, if I’m not mistaken. All in all, it’s a week of mixed origin, but no Norse gods here, as it would be expected.

  24. Within Germanic, the Icelandic days of the week are interesting. I’d naively expect Iceland to be the most in touch with its pagan heritage, but on this point it’s the least so: the older, typically Scandinavian set of “sunnudagur, mánudagur, týsdagur, óðinsdagur, þórsdagur, frjádagur, laugardagur” was replaced, on the initiative of the church, with “sunnudagur, mánudagur, þriðjudagur [third day], miðvikudagur [mid-week], fimmtudagur [fifth day], föstudagur [fasting day], laugardagur” – all gods having been removed. But nearby Faroese preserves the older names basically unchanged.

  25. Ксёнѕ Фаўст says:

    Then we’ve got Friday as “Paraskeve” (meaning Preparation, obviously an allusion to the preparation of the Jewish Sabbath). This is also used as a first name for women and men (as “Paraskevas”).

    Paraskeva-Pjatnica used to be a popular folk saint in Russia, associated as her byname suggests with Friday. She frequently pops up in research on pre-Christian Slavic religion (her cult is believed to have absorbed many Pagan elements). I wasn’t aware that the name itself means Friday in Greek.
    According to Uspenskij, Russians also swore “by the holy Friday” (вот те святая пятница…).

  26. Zelený drak says:

    Sfânta Vineri ( Saint Friday) also appears very often in the Romanian fairy tales (sometimes under the name of Paraschiva). There is sometimes also a saint Wednesday, and even more rarely a saint Sunday. The other days don’t get mentioned

  27. Trond Engen says:

    Could this be because calling upon the holiness of Friday meant calling upon the goddess the day was tied to? Freya/Frigg and Venus are obvious, but the identification of the day with the main female deity could have had a wider distribution. When the Orthodox church felt the need to change the names of the days, it could actually be because they really meant something there.

  28. David Marjanović says:

    The name is also used as a given name for women and, in its masculine form “Kyriakos”, as a first name for men.

    There’s a saint with that name; although not (otherwise) widely known, Wikipedia says he’s one of the Fourteen Helpers in Need, and so there’s an Austrian regional politician called Cyriak Schwaighofer.

  29. David Marjanović says:

    Could this be because calling upon the holiness of Friday meant calling upon the goddess the day was tied to?

    Or on Good Friday?

  30. Trond Engen says:

    Yes, that too. But I was thinking of the construction of a folk-Christian pseudo-goddess.

  31. CuConnacht says:

    Jumaa = Friday is a fairly common Arabic name for men, presumably men born on a Friday, the day of Muslim communal prayer. Some month names (Rajab, Shaaban, Ramadan) also occur as masculine names.

  32. Ксёнѕ Фаўст says:

    Could this be because calling upon the holiness of Friday meant calling upon the goddess the day was tied to?

    Well, any indications of names of the days of the week based on deity names (or planets) in Slavic languages are very scarce, famously Thursday was called perĕndan in Polabian (which could be interpreted as Perun’s day but note the very heavy German influence upon Polabian and the fact that in Polish piorun has become a common noun). The opinion that Slavs only adopted the 7-day week with Christianity has been widespread among scholars.

    The numeral-based names seem to be in sync with the dominant system used in Greek (just like the Germanic calques and Celtic loans are in sync with the dominant system used in Latin and Romance). Yet when it comes to exact details they are not identical: in Greek Tuesday is derived from the numeral ‘third’, in Slavic from ‘second’ etc.

    Basically, like with so many things concerning the Slavic beliefs/culture of old, maybe there is something there, maybe there isn’t, probably we’ll never know.

  33. Ксёнѕ Фаўст says:

    PS. But leaving the Slavic week considerations aside, the argument that Pjatnica replaced Mokoš (and some other goddesses and female demons, too?) in East Slavic folklore seems very convincing to me. E.g. she was referred to as the “water and earth mother”.

  34. Thanks for picking up on this note. I am guilty of writing far too little in my own name on the Internet since I am far too busy working as a translator.

    I was aware that Vasmer is still the standard etymological dictionary of Russian. However, why would a dictionary be less valuable simply because it is not comprehensive? Wade’s work, unlike Vasmer, can easily be read cover to cover. Wade engages in more purely historical digressions in his definitions. Here are two examples from the same page near the beginning:

    From the entry for апельсин: “[O]ranges were first brought from China by the Portuguese in the 16th century and were imported from Holland into Russia, where they were enjoyed as a delicacy by Moscow magnates.”

    From the one for аптека: “[A]pothecaries were referred to in the 15th century, but the first chemist’s shop in Moscow, serving the royal court, opened in 1581, the first general chemist’s in 1672.”

    Perhaps this is getting away from etymology, but there are lots of interesting tidbits to be gleaned here.

  35. Ксёнѕ Фаўст says:
    Oddly, while Wednesday is ‘middle’ — as if Sunday = 1, the other days are numbered starting from Monday (the words for Tuesday, Thursday, Friday are derived from second, fourth, fifth).

    This appears odd, until you think about it in this way:
    Sunday (nedjelja) is day No 1.
    Monday (ponedjeljak) is the “day after nedjelja”. It has to be day No 2 because you would not name Day No 1 as coming “after” some other day.
    Tuesday (utorak) is the “second day after nedjelja” ie. day No 3.
    Thursday (četvrtak) is the “fourth day after nedjelja” ie. day No 5.
    Friday (petak) is the “fifth day after nedjelja” ie. day No 6.
    So, naturally, Wednesday (srijeda) is the “middle”. It also corresponds to the German Mittwoch, which makes more sense as the ancient Slavs would have lived in closer proximity to German tribes than to Zoroastrians.

  36. The Romans had the habit of counting sequences of things from both ends, so that although the day before the kalends of such-and-such a month was called just that, the previous day was “the third day before the kalends” and so on back to the ides (the 15th or 13th in long or short months respectively). In the same way, their eight-day market week was nundinae, literally ‘nine days’.

  37. I was aware that Vasmer is still the standard etymological dictionary of Russian. However, why would a dictionary be less valuable simply because it is not comprehensive?

    Oh, I certainly didn’t mean to imply that it was less valuable in the sense of “not very good”; I love the sort of historical tidbits you quote from it, and I’d be glad to have a copy. It’s just that I’ve been hoping for a full etymological dictionary to replace or supplement the (now quite aged) Vasmer, and this obviously isn’t it. For what it is, it sounds great.

  38. John Cowan, also, Easter Sunday is “three days” after Good Friday.

  39. Good point. “On the third day he rose again from his bed and navigated into haven, where he sitteth on his beam-ends until further orders, whence he shall come to slog for a living and be paid.”

  40. marie-lucie says:

    Easter Sunday is “three days” after Good Friday

    It is actually “the third day”, counting Friday as the first day. “Three days after” would be Monday.

  41. That’s what I meant by counting at both ends. There is a similar type of conceptual confusion known as a fencepost error: if you have to build a 100 foot fence, placing posts every 10 feet, how many posts do you need? The answer is not 10 but 11. However, if the fence connects to other fences at both ends, the answer is then 9; only if the fence is circular do you need exactly 10 posts.

  42. I think of the “three days” thing as indicative of a cultural confusion about the measurement/enumeration of time quantities. When I hear “three days,” I interpret that as a measure of time; time is a continuous quantity, which has been measured in units of days and rounded off. (This is why, even for people whose idiolects enforce a “less” versus “fewer” distinction, “less than three days” is preferred to “fewer than three days.”) However, it some societies, with less mathematical literacy, people did not think so clearly about the nature of time measurements. Getting to three days was a matter of counting: “Friday, Saturday, Sunday—that makes three!” (Another example of this is the Chinese tradition of identifying a child’s age as one at birth; the age numeral in this case is enumerating the number of the child’s year, not measuring the amount of time since birth.)

  43. And cf. French quinze jours for two weeks.

  44. Trond Engen says:

    My grandmother, born 1906, used to say åtte dager “eight days” for one week and fjorten dager “fourteen days” for two.

  45. marie-lucie says:

    LH: French quinze jours for two weeks

    … and huit jours for a week.

    You can also say une huitaine de jours or une quizaine de jours for approximately one or two weeks respectively. (Only a few numbers have an -aine derivative).

  46. @Trond, that’s how I was raised — born 1960. Om otte dage is today week, om fjorten dage is the next.

    It’s something I expect to be universally understood in Denmark, but who knows. I don’t remember my offspring protesting at the usage, but they may not understand it to be as precise as I mean it. I checked a few headlines online, and it seems to be used for events seven to ten days into the future — but my feeling is that ‘in a week’ would be used the same way.

  47. Trond Engen says:

    Yes, om åtte dager too. The reason I used my grandmother as example is that I can’t remember anybody younger actually saying it, as opposed to understanding. I remember finding it illogical and amusing. I can’t remember it from any of my other grandparents either, and I’ve never noticed it from old speakers of rural dialects. That might be a symptom that it belonged to the Riksmål (“Danified”) register of Oslo rather than general Norwegian. Or that I don’t pay attention.

    Now I think it’s completely lost, while fjorten dager for a two-week period is still commonplace.

  48. David Marjanović says:

    I’ve repeatedly encountered in acht Tagen for “in a week” in German writing. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say it, but any minute now Stu is gonna drop in and say it’s used all the time. :p

    Two weeks are called 14 days, not 15. Or just “two weeks”.

  49. David Marjanović says:

    Aw, that smiley doesn’t exist here. Alternative: :-þ

  50. The fictional Taran Pig-Keeper has the name of the Celtic thunder-god, so he too may be said to be called Thurs(day) as well.

  51. AJP Weekend Crown says:

    JC: the (originally American) concept of the “weekend” as Saturday and Sunday, which is an early-20C idea

    Not according to the Atlantic:

    The earliest recorded use of the word “weekend,” Rybczynski notes, occurred in 1879 in an English magazine called Notes and Queries:

    In Staffordshire, if a person leaves home at the end of his week’s work on the Saturday afternoon to spend the evening of Saturday and the following Sunday with friends at a distance, he is said to be spending his week-end at So-and-so.

    Apparently Henry Ford started closing his factories on both saturdays & sundays in 1908. However, Henry Ford was a miserable bastard and the last thing he deserves is misplaced credit for inventing the weekend.

  52. Trond Engen says:

    Staffordshire, aye? British car industry took off in Birmingham and Coventry before Henry Ford’s plant in Manchester bacame leading in 1913. Ford may have got the terminology from his Midland competitors or from a round Ford-staff-share from around Staffordshire.

  53. Ahem. Taran was an assistant pig-keeper, and the job title was explicitly not a sobriquet.

  54. Note the words “Saturday afternoon”. At that time, it was typical for the working class to have a half-day on Saturday. The idea of two whole days off (to which the existing word weekend was applied) is indeed an American one and originates in 1908, but not with Henry Ford, as that same Atlantic article points out. Most of the intervening citations in the OED are rather vague.

    By 1937 the use is clearly established, as this quotation from the Times shows:

    The letter began with old Lady Chervil’s unvarying formula:—My dear Mrs. Miniver, Chervil and I shall be delighted if you and your Husband will stay with us from Friday 19th to Monday 22nd November. (She would have gone to the guillotine sooner than use the expression ‘week-end’.)

  55. marie-lucie says:

    le weekend

    Anglophones often make fun of the French adoption of “weekend” as a word, allegedly against the dictates of the Académie française, but the reason for that is that even today most people do work a whole day on Saturdays and schools are also open. So having two days without work is still a foreign custom (although an increasingly popular one) and the use of the foreign word reflects that.

    In French Canada the English word is shunned, and English “weekend” is translated as la fin de semaine ‘the week’s end’, which in France would refer to the days at the end of the work week, such as Friday and Saturday, regardless of their status as workdays or not. In France, if on Monday someone promises to contact you or have something ready for you en fin de semaine, you might be pleasantly surprised on Friday morning, or have to wait until the end of Saturday.

  56. Trond Engen says:

    Around here, in building consultancy, “i slutten av uka” means Monday after a weekend of 24h workdays. Monday means Tuesday before lunch. Before lunch means before we go home. We go home at midnight, just in time to deliver Wednesday morning.

  57. To replace weekend, one (tongue-in-cheek?) proposal that I’ve seen is samedimanche.

  58. AJP 'le' Weekend Crown says:

    Sometime into the early 1960s, when I was a child, shops in London stayed open on saturdays only until one pm. It was called early closing. This was still the law in Germany when I lived there in the 1990s. It was inconvenient, but Germans said it was good that shop assistants weren’t obliged to work too long at the weekend when their children were home from school and I couldn’t argue with that. In neither place did this have any connection with the concept of saturday & sunday being the weekend, so I don’t see how American working hours come into it. America cannot have invented the idea of having two full consecutive days off any more than it invented the weekend or the lightbulb. In 1704, during the Siege of Gibraltar, there was a Samoan blacksmith who gave her workers every saturday and sunday off throughout the siege. She subsequently became the common-law wife of Admiral Rooke. My grandmother told me.

  59. Samoan??? Europeans hadn’t even seen Sāmoa until the 1720s.

  60. Oh. Happy December Fool’s Day.

  61. Trune:

    Its habit of getting up late, you’ll agree
    It carries too far, when I say
    It frequently breakfasts on five-o’clock tea,
    And dines the following day.

    —one of the “five unmistakable marks” of a Snark, the others being the flavor, not getting jokes, fondness for bathing machines, and ambition.

  62. Trond Engen says:

    Det er aldri for sent å ha en god start på dagen.

    It’s never too late to have your day off to a good start.

    Torkjell Berulfsen, Norw. radio host and translator

  63. David Marjanović says:

    December fools?

    I knew about día de los inocentes, but that’s the 29th…

  64. The ancients (Roman and Greek, and I bet the near eastern ones too), normally used “inclusive reckoning”, where today was the first day. We use exclusive reckoning, where tomorrow is the first day.

    That’s why Easter is “three” days after Good Friday, and the forty days of Lent last only 39 days, and why our sources tell us that the quadrennial Olympic Games came every 5 years.

  65. The ancients even confused themselves. They say that after JC reformed the calendar and promptly got himself stabbed — no causal connection, I hope — bissextiles were inserted every inclusive fourth year until someone caught the error and Augustus had to decree a fix.

    (“They say” is my new evidential for “I’m sure I read this on Wikipedia, but I can’t be bothered to check right now”).

  66. AJP Weekday Crown says:

    In the words of le Corbusier, a bathroom is a machine for bathing (in). Rugby League was invented in Carcassonne, and then again later in northern England.

  67. Ксёнѕ Фаўст says:

    Allegedly Greek Paraskeví also yielded Pherintag in Old Bavarian, how’s that possible?

  68. Trond Engen says:

    Bavarian weekdays, as well as ecclesiastical terminology, show Eastern influence. Joseph Voyles in Language and Culture in the Early Germanic World attributes this to christianized East Germanic tribes resettling in the Pannonian basin. There are even some EG phonological and grammatical features, but I can’t remember which ones.

  69. Ксёнѕ Фаўст says:

    I see, I just find -askevi > -in- really wacky phonetically, even taking the Germanic tendency for extreme shortening into account.

  70. Trond Engen says:

    Oh, I see. Also Sammstag. Yes, there’s obviously more going on than phonological reduction.

  71. Trond Engen says:

    Samstag. But that’s pretty straightforward with -mb- happening in Greek.

    And please close my italics.

  72. David Marjanović says:

    Samstag < Middle High German sambaztac < borrowed sabbas, where after the High German consonant shift HG didn’t have a [bː] anymore. (German-speaking sheep make määäh.)

    Allegedly Greek Paraskeví also yielded Pherintag in Old Bavarian, how’s that possible?

    No idea, and I hadn’t even heard of this. But Ertag for Tuesday, standard Dienstag, survives today in some dialects, and is thought to come from Ares via the Goths.

    There are even some EG phonological and grammatical features, but I can’t remember which ones.

    Phonological? I hope you can find out, because phonologically Gothic was very much unlike Old or current Bavarian.

    I can’t think of any grammatical ones either, except that the Bavarian preservation of the 2nd-person dual instead of plural pronouns (and possibly the verb ending) may be due to East Germanic influence. That said, I don’t know enough about Old High German grammar for that to mean much!

    A few words have been proposed as EG loans, but of the two I can remember one is apparently more widely distributed and the other one shows an irregular phonological correspondence.

  73. Trond Engen says:

    I’ll have to look it up, but probably not tonight.

  74. marie-lucie says:

    David: German-speaking sheep make määäh

    That’s what French goats say. French sheep say bäääh. The verbs for these are respectively mêler and bêler.

    the Bavarian preservation of the 2nd-person dual instead of plural pronouns
    What is that dual pronoun?

  75. There is a theory that the Gothic transmission of Greek Areos hemera ultimately to Ertag involved a stage in which Areos hemera was reinterpreted as Ariou hemera, the day of Arius rather than Ares; retaining a pagan god would have been inconsistent with the other transmitted forms, which are numerical/Christian, such as Pfinztag from pempte hemera, or Samstag itself, rather than continuing the original divine/planetary names.

  76. What is that dual pronoun?

    Hmm, my comment seems to have vanished. Bavarian has no separate dual forms, but the 2pl oblique pronoun in Bavarian is enk, which looks nothing like the corresponding pronoun in any other variety of German, but does look like ugkis (where gk = /ŋk/), the 2dual oblique pronoun in Gothic. What is more, the 2pl verb ending in Bavarian is /ts/, the same as the 2dual ending in Gothic. This suggests that the 2pl forms were lost and replaced by East Germanic 2dual forms.

  77. Trond Engen says:

    If I’m quoting without access to the sources I could at least bother to google it. The title of the book is Language and history in the early Germanic world (Cambridge U.P. 1998).and It’s by D. H. Green, not Joseph Voyles, who instead wrote Early Germanic Grammar.

  78. marie-lucie says:

    JC: This suggests that the 2pl forms were lost and replaced by East Germanic 2dual

    Since Bavaria is not quite next door to Crimea, “East Germanic” must have been much larger centuries ago. Replaced by Slavic perhaps?

  79. David Marjanović says:

    in which Areos hemera was reinterpreted as Ariou hemera, the day of Arius rather than Ares

    That makes sense and more naturally accounts for the umlaut!

    rather than continuing the original divine/planetary names

    Well; Montag and Donnerstag were not replaced. On the other hand, however, Ertag was evidently considered inappropriate in one diocese, which replaced it by Aftermontag.

    the 2pl oblique pronoun in Bavarian is enk, which looks nothing like the corresponding pronoun in any other variety of German, but does look like ugkis (where gk = /ŋk/), the 2dual oblique pronoun in Gothic.

    Not quite; ugkis was the 1du dative/accusative form. The 2du form was igqis, which probably fits exactly; it may be relevant here that the Bavarian vowel is /e/, not /ɛ/, but I’m not sure how these line up with anything.

    The nominative form, which is /es/*, is harder to explain; Gothic had jut in the dual, jus in the plural. Perhaps the vowel is leveled in from the oblique form??? Whether the /s/ comes from *s or *t (High German consonant shift) is impossible to tell without written evidence from Medieval times, because Bavarian has shortened word-final long consonants**, eliminating the distinction between *s > /s/ and *t > /sː/.

    * Distinct from /ɛs/, “it”.
    ** This happened between two rounds of apocope, so word-final consonant length is phonemic again nowadays.

    What is more, the 2pl verb ending in Bavarian is /ts/, the same as the 2dual ending in Gothic.

    Admittedly, the traditional explanation is quite different: fusion of the clitic /s/, from the pronoun /es/, to the regular plural ending /t/.

  80. David Marjanović says:

    Since Bavaria is not quite next door to Crimea, “East Germanic” must have been much larger centuries ago. Replaced by Slavic perhaps?

    Of course! The Goths for whom Wulfila translated the Bible lived in and around modern Romania, and other East Germanic groups were found in the same area and farther northwest. The Longobards, whatever their language actually was, lived on the Pannonian plain and the Danube plain northwest of Vienna for some time before most of them wandered off to conquer Italy; the remainder appear to have contributed to Bavarian ethnogenesis.

  81. David Marjanović says:

    Montag and Donnerstag were not replaced

    And neither was Sonntag, despite the available Latin/Romance models.

  82. Perhaps the vowel is leveled in from the oblique form???

    Why the ???? Isn’t that a very common phenomenon?

  83. An enclitic preceding an inflectional ending? That strikes me as very unlikely.

  84. An enclitic preceding an inflectional ending? That strikes me as very unlikely.

    It may happen, though, if the inflectional ending is itself of enclitic origin. For example, Polish has the emphatic particle -że/ (found in other Slavic languages as well). Though written together with the preceding word, it is neither a derivational suffix nor part of the inflectional system: gdzie ‘where’ : gdzież ‘where ever, where on earth’.

    It is, however, placed before some verbal desinences (the personal endings of the past tense and the subjunctive mood) because they themselves derive historically from cliticised auxiliary verbs. For example: staliśmy ‘we stood’ : staliżeśmy (in an emphatic question) ‘did we stand indeed?’ or pragnęlibyśby ‘we would desire’ : pragnęliżbyśmy ‘would we really desire?’.

    This construction has a slightly archaic flavour in Standard Polish, but in some regional/substandard varieties -ż- has been incorporated into the personal ending of the preterite and become inseparable from it. Moreover, they are mobile together, which means that they together behave like a clitic and can be moved to a different position in the calause. The conjugation of stać in the past tense looks like this (for the masculine gender): stał żem, stał żeś, stał, stali żeśmy, stali żeście, stali. Just as if the obscured auxiliary verb (originally forms of ‘to be’) had come back.

    ja żem stał = standard stałem ‘I stood’.

  85. David Marjanović says:

    Why the ???? Isn’t that a very common phenomenon?

    It hasn’t happened in the other personal pronouns.

    An enclitic preceding an inflectional ending?

    No, why? In -/ts/, the /t/ would be the 2pl ending and /s/ the clitic pronoun.

  86. On the avoidance of pagan deities in names; the hypothesis was that there was no objection in Old High German on the receiving end, but that Arian Goths transmitting late Greek names show no other signs of using names of gods (hence e.g Pfinztag rather than a ‘Dios hemera’ equivalent), and that Gothic Christianity was rather more resistant to compromises with paganism. (I attended some interesting lectures years ago on the Christian vocabulary of Old High German, with very different choices made from essentially the same Germanic vocabulary by Old English and Gothic, both of whom ended up influencing Germany; e.g the split between translations of holy, with the ancestors of ‘weih-‘ and ‘heilig’ showing very different takes on the concept, ‘numinous’ versus ‘health/prosperity’. Don’t know what our professor’s sources for all this was).
    Donnerstag etc are part of the package of names which presumably crossed the Rhine in translation from the Roman world.

  87. It hasn’t happened in the other personal pronouns.

    I wasn’t talking about Bavarian personal pronouns in particular, just the general phenomenon of leveling from oblique forms.

  88. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say [in acht Tagen], but any minute now Stu is gonna drop in and say it’s used all the time

    Regretfully, I too have never heard anyone say that.

  89. “In achht Tak” is used in some Swiss dialects. Here is an explanation from SRF (Swiss National Radio) in full-dress Schwiizertüütsch.

  90. @Schwiizertüütsch

    I caught like 1 word in three, some of which were cheating (z.B. kompliziert). But I did hear jeder Acht Tage vel sim., which reminded me that my Danish also has hver ottende dag for events on the same day every week — but Google only gives me very old uses, like a fairy tale by H.C.Andersen, so I may have to accept that I’m a dying breed on that issue.

  91. I don’t think Germans say the unadorned “in acht Tagen”, but they do say “Heute in acht Tagen” for “a week from today. See here.

  92. marie-lucie says:

    Lars: my Danish also has hver ottende dag for events on the same day every week

    This corresponds to French tous les huit jours ‘every week’ (and similarly tous les quinze jours ‘every two weeks’.

  93. Gary: See here

    That’s only a phrase dictionary. It tells The question is whether “heute in acht Tagen” is still in use at all in speech, and if so where and how often. At your link we also see “in die Acht verfallen”, which might be *said* once in blue moon only by an extremely cultivated person, say in an acceptance speech for the Büchner Preis.

    Here, though, is somebody quoted as saying “heute in acht Tagen” last year in Wiesbaden.

  94. Of course I have now added “in die Acht verfallen” to my little bag of on-line tricks. Despite the fact that I am not extremely cultivated, but rather over-intensively farmed.

  95. tous les quinze jours

    Thanks. Seems Roman counting isn’t all dead if you know where to look. From a Norwegian example to France, so far…

  96. Don’t know what our professor’s sources for all this was
    I don’t know either, but there’s an extensive chapter on these issues in Hans Eggers’s Deutsche Sprachgeschichte, so your Professor might have used that or used the same sources.
    On “in acht Tagen”: to me, that’s a wording I associate with older people (older than me, that is.). That also fits Stu’s example, where the person sayin “in acht Tagen” must be at least ca. 65 years old.

  97. Trond Engen says:

    Me: I’ll have to look it up, but probably not tonight.

    Christmas came in between. In his chapter on the influence of the Goths, Green doesn’t seem to mention any grammatical or phonological features. It could be Voyles after all. But that book us nowhere to be find. It may still be under piles of stuff in my daughter’s room after she borrowed it for a school project. But I’m pretty sure the 2nd person plural is (one of) the grammatical feature(s) I recalled.

  98. Trond Engen says:

    I meant to link to my own comment upthread.

    Anyway, I found this collection of papers on Bavarian Ethnogenesis.

  99. David Marjanović says:

    Anyway, I found this collection of papers on Bavarian Ethnogenesis.

    Behold my reaction.

  100. Trond Engen says:

    It’s even part of a series.

    Note, however, that it took ten years from the conference of which it is the procedings to its publication.

  101. And I learn that the city of Dushanbe got its name because it used to have a Monday market.

    Yokkaichi (四日市市 Yokkaichi-shi?, lit. “fourth day market”) is a city located in Mie Prefecture, Japan.

  102. marie-lucie says:

    Stu: “heute in acht Tagen”

    I wonder if that started as a calque from this now archaic French phrase d’ici en huit jours , lit, ‘from here in eight days’, now simply dans huit jours, both meaning ‘a week from now’. (Not limited to a week, it could refer to any number of days).

  103. David Marjanović says:

    Note, however, that it took ten years from the conference of which it is the procedings to its publication.

    That’s in the upper part of the normal range. 😐

    I wonder if that started as a calque

    Quite likely.

  104. Of course I have now added “in die Acht verfallen” to my little bag of on-line tricks.

    At first glance I took this to be something like AmE “behind the eight ball”.

    Voyles

    The Godot-like hero of the lipogrammatic novel La disparition is named Anton Voyl; in the English translation A Void, of course, his name is Vowl.

  105. David Marjanović says:

    I know people named Vowles.

  106. Vowle(s) is a variant of Fowle(s), which of course is from the word fowl.

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