Posted by: Jack Henry | August 9, 2022

Editor’s Corner: Sunday

You know me, I don’t just love English, I love a lot of different languages! One of the things I have always been interested in, since studying some Spanish, French, and learning a little Greek, is days of the week. If you look at the top five romance languages—Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian—the names of the week are so similar to each other, but not so similar to English.

Here’s a little chart I put together (plus English and Greek because of my personal fondness):

English Greek Spanish French Italian Romanian Portuguese
Sunday Κυριακή

Kyriakí

Domingo Dimanche Domenica Duminică Domingo
Monday Δευτέρα

Deftéra

Lunes Lundi Lunedi Luni Segunda-Feira
Tuesday Τρίτη

Tríti

Martes Mardi Martedì Marţi Terça-Feira
Wednesday
Τετάρτη
Tetárti
Miércoles Mercredi Mercoledì Miercuri Quarta-Feira
Thursday
Πέμπτη
Pémpti
Jueves Jeudi Giovedì Joi Quinta-Feira
Friday
Παρασκευή
Paraskeví
Viernes Vendredit Venerdì Vineri Sexta-Feira
Saturday
Σάββατο
Sávvato
Sábado Samedi Sabato Sâmbătă Sábado

When comparing the translations above, you can see that most of the Romance words for the days of the week are similar. And while Greek isn’t a Romance language, I recognized something that is similar between it and Portuguese. In Greek, the names of the days of the week after Sunday are translated as “second,” “third,” “fourth,” and “fifth”; the Portuguese days (after Sunday) are also “second,” “third,” “fourth,” “fifth,” and “sixth.” The word feira in Portuguese refers to “rest days,” compared to Saturday and Sunday, the holy days.

Okay, enough of my curiosity, let’s see what the days and languages have in common, and where we diverge from each of them. Today I’ll start with Sunday, and over the next few weeks we’ll have a look at the other days and their histories. The following information is from Dictionary.com.

The first records of the word Sunday come from before 900. It comes from the Middle English sun(nen)day, from the Old English sunnandæg. This is a translation of the Latin diēs sōlis, which itself is a translation of Greek hēméra hēlíou, “day of the Sun.”

Sunday is named after the sun thanks to the ancient Babylonians. The Babylonian civilization is the first one known to use a seven-day week. They named each of the seven days after planets and other celestial bodies. The two most visible ones got top billing, with the day we call Sunday being named after the sun and the day after—what we call Monday—being named after the moon. When the Romans adopted this model of naming the days for celestial bodies, they used their term for the sun, sōlis.

In Christianity, Sunday is a day of rest and worship—the Christian Sabbath day.

The expressiona month of Sundays is an exaggerated way of saying a very long time.

So, in English we stick with ancient Babylonians and Greeks to talk about this day of the week, in honor of the sun. In modern Greek, Sunday Κυριακή (pronounced Kyriakí), translates as “The Lord’s Day.” In the Romance languages, you’ll see that their words for Sunday are also based on god: Domingo, Dimanche, Domenica, Duminică, and again Domingo are from the Latin word Dominus, which means god, lord, and master.

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | (619) 542-6773 | jackhenry.com

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/


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