July 30, 2012 | Portuguese
Days of the Week
Portuguese weekdays surprise me!
Today was a Monday. This seems like a good day to mention days of the week.
Portuguese days of the week are not at all what I was expecting, based on previous encounters with Romance languages.
Saturday (sábado) and Sunday (domingo) are typical. Nothing unexpected there.
But weekdays are surprising! Here, first, are the weekdays in the Romance languages that are more familiar to me (Italian, Spanish, French):
- Monday: lunedì, lunes, lundi - all relating to “moon”
- Tuesday: martedì, martes, mardi - all relating to the Roman god of war, Mars
- Wednesday: mercoledì, miércoles, mercredi - all related to Mercury, the Roman messenger god
- Thursday: giovedì, jueves, jeudi - all relating to Jove, the Roman god of gods
- Friday: venerdì, viernes, vendredi - all relating to Venus, the goddess of love
See the consistency?
So then along comes Portuguese with this!
- Monday: segunda-feira
- Tuesday: terça-feira
- Wednesday: quarta-feira
- Thursday: quinta-feira
- Friday: sexta-feira
Note the numbery-looking nature of these things. They mean “second day,” “third day,” “fourth day,” etc. (Actually I am getting mixed messages about how to translate feira, but sometimes people just translate it as “day.” It has a religious origin, I gather—not one of my strengths.)
I have seen numbering in days of the week before—in Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic—but not often.
Now, in my head, Monday is the first day. That is partly because it’s the first day of work or school, but it is also because each training week in my running logs, which I kept for years, started on a Monday and ended on a Sunday.
Therefore, in producing a day of the week in Portuguese, it often takes me a second to add 1 to my personal concept of whatever the day is. In other words, I would be inclined to call Tuesday segunda-feira, not terça-feira. It feels as though my head is racing to do the math so I can translate on time.
Also: you can drop the feira and say simply segunda to refer to Monday, quarta to refer to Wednesday, and so on. So instead of saying something akin to “on Monday,” you would say na segunda (on the second).
Anyway, today, na segunda, I woke up freakishly early and hung out a bit in Verdi Square doing Italian Pimsleur (because I am concerned it is dying in my brain). There I saw two people reading newspapers in languages other than English.
Reading an Asian-Language Newspaper. Maybe Chinese.
Reading El Diario
Then I headed downtown, where I went to volunteer for NYC & Company. They have an information kiosk at City Hall Park, in front of the Woolworth Building.
City Hall Station
City Hall Park
City Hall Park with Ketchup
NYC & Company Information Kiosk
Downtown is full of tourists. At the 9/11 Memorial for sure, and always at the shopping mecca Century 21. It is incredibly multilingual in this part of town.