It’s scandalous that one of the great intellectual ground-breaking theses of 2013, The amazing story of how days got their names, has not yet been picked up by academic, language and history magazines all over the world, let alone gone viral on the internet. It’s a more important document than the binary code and the Book of Genesis put together! Really, what geniuses have to do to get the recognition they deserve? Why isn’t Bernardo’s brain Instagramed more than Kim Kardashian’s bum?
As that document noted, the days of the week in modern Portuguese may look odd to speakers of other Romance languages because the Portuguese switched to a counting system. However, they shouldn’t present too much difficulty because the counting words are reasonably recognisable even to English speakers.
Here is a table outlining the days of the week in my five Romance languages, and underneath are some observations on how to remember them or, if you are learning more than one Romance language, to help avoid muddling them. The Portuguese weekdays have been abbreviated to keep the columns looking even. Strictly speaking, though, they are segunda-feira, terça-feira, quarta-feira, quinta-feira, sexta-feira. But in conversation the -feira is often dropped anyway.
Notes to help you remember some of this:
- In French all days except for Sunday end in i.
- In Italian all weekdays end in ì (with the accent)
- In Romanian all weekdays end in i (without an accent)
- In Spanish all weekdays end in s – the only ones in the table that don’t end in a vowel.
- Portuguese and Brazilians have sex on Fridays as a matter of routine.
- All Mondays have an un in them. In Australia there is a joke about having a “no undy Monday” … not wearing underpants on Monday.
Alan Parsons and his colleagues in the Alan Parsons Project must have been learning Portuguese when they wrote this lovely song, Days are Numbers. Here’s a clip on YouTube that includes an Italian translation.
What’s your favourite day of the week in the table? Mine is the Romanian Saturday, sâmbătă – it sounds like fun.