May all 12 months of your new year be filled with felicity


Image from Pixabay

Image from Pixabay

Happy new year! People whose first language is a Romance one might be tempted to say “felicitous new year”, judging by the following: feliz ano novo (Portuguese), feliz año nuevo (Spanish)felice anno nuovo (Italian)an nou fericit (Romanian). The one Romance language that doesn’t make much use of felicité this time of the year, funnily enough, is French. It’s more common to wish one another une bonne année or une heureuse année instead. But “New Year” in French is masculine: Nouvel An.

calendar-31953_640January 1 seems as good a day as any to add some important vocabulary to this blog, the names of the months of the year in my five Romances. We’ve already noted how Portuguese is the odd one out when it comes to the names of the days of the week. So, has it developed a peculiarity with the names of the month as well? Slightly. It’s the only one of the five that uses capital letters for its months.

So, here is a screenshot of a table showing the months in these five Romance languages. Luckily Bernardo cleaned his screen before he took the shot, otherwise you would seen the splotches of spaghetti sauce, ice-cream and caramel topping and all the other foodstuffs that he munched on in 2014 while he was working at the computer. You already know the Portuguese word for January as that was the month that Rio de Janeiro (River of January) in Brazil was discovered. The explorers thought Guanabara Bay was the mouth of a river. And if you have been to the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires or heard of the Mothers of the Plaza Mayo you will know that mayo is May – the big square there gets its name from the revolution in May 1810 that eventually led to Argentina’s independence.

Romance months

Ways to help you remember some of this:

  • Apart from Abril, all Portuguese months end in o.
  • Apart from April, the first eight months of the year in Italian and Spanish end in o.
  • No Romanian or French month ends in o.
  • The last four months of the year end in e in all languages except Portuguese.
  • Brazilians get Fever-ish in February as carnival approaches.
  • Romanians eat brie cheese at the end of the last four months of the year.
  • Julio Iglesias was not born in julio, he was born two months later.
  • Neither Italian nor Romanian uses j for their equivalents of January, June or July.

Which language do you think is most similar to English when it comes to the months? Which one is the most different?


4 thoughts on “May all 12 months of your new year be filled with felicity

  1. Happy New Year!
    Did you notice that Romanian is the only one that keeps the “m” in October (octombrie)? The last 4 months end in “mber”, “mbro”, “mbre” or “mbrie”, but for the other languages, the “m” is left out in October.
    I think that French is the most similar to English, when it comes to the months, and Portuguese the least.
    Did you know that in Japanese the months of the year are: month 1, month 2, month 3 …. Easy to remember, right? However, when the Japanese learn English, it’s difficult to remember the months of the year, so they sometimes count (January, February, March…), until they get to the month they want to say. So it’s not so difficult for speakers of European languages to learn another European language, right?

    • Hello, funnily enough I thought Romanian was closest to English. And an interesting point about the M in October. I can understand the Japanese difficulty with the months because Portuguese has a counting system for the days (Monday is segunda-feira, segunda = second, Tuesday is terca, which means third) and initially when I wanted to say Thursday or Friday I had to mentally count them from Monday to get to Friday! I agree, it’s easier to learn another language on your own continent … I don’t have the courage to tackle Asian languages and Arabic. How did you cope with Japanese?

      • I hesitated between Romanian and French to be the closest to English, but I thought maybe the spelling is closest in French.
        I agree that Arabic would be the greatest challenge for many people. Japanese is a big challenge itself, and although sometimes grammar can be really simple, the different levels of politeness, that the Japanese themselves admit not to master completely, can be really frustrating, not to mention many words that have no resemblance to any European language. Word order is completely reversed from English most of the time. New words borrowed from English help in the process of learning, but, on the other hand, not being able to read (or learn many) kanji are a huge disadvantage, especially for me, as I have a better visual memory. But for me the fact that I live here helped a lot.

      • That’s interesting, thank you. I have never been to Japan but I have heard it is very beautiful in parts, and it must be a fascinating country. I will get there one day! Cheers

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