Re: [LEAPSECS] building consensus

From: John Cowan <cowan_at_CCIL.ORG>
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2006 11:21:30 -0400

Rob Seaman scripsit:

> Makes the zero vs. one indexing question of C and FORTRAN programmers
> look sane. I've pointed people to the whole 7, 8, 9, 10 sequence
> from September to December on those (admittedly rare) occasions when
> the issue has come up. Presumably other languages agree in usage,
> which would be another indicator of the age of the names of the months.

The English month-names are borrowed from Old French forms that are
direct descendants of the Latin ones, as is the case in all the Romance
languages. However, some of them have been cleaned up a bit in Modern
English: "April" is closer to Latin "Aprilis" than Middle English
"Av(e)rill", which is directly from Old French (Modern French 'Avril').

Old English had its own set of month names entirely unrelated to
the Latin ones: if they had survived, they would have been Afteryule,
Solmath 'mud-month', Rethe[math] 'rough-month', Astron [pl. of 'Easter'],
Thrimilch 'three-milking', Forelithe, Afterlithe, Wedmath 'weed-month',
Halimath 'holy-month', Winterfilth '-filling', Blotmath 'sacrifice-month',
Foreyule. At least some of these are obviously pre-Christian.

Modern German uses the Latin-derived names as well, but in 800,
Charlemagne set up a standardized list of native month names. Many of
these survived in German until the 18th century: Jaenner < Januarius,
Hornung [meaning unknown], Lenzmonat 'spring-', Oster- 'Easter', Wonne-
'grazing', Brach- 'plowing', Heu- 'hay', Ernte- 'harvest', Herbst-
'autumn', Wein- 'wine', Winter- and Christ-, Jul- 'Yule' or Heiligmonat
'holy month'.

Finally, the modern pronunciation of "July", with the accent on the
second syllable, is a 19th-century innovation of unknown origin.

> >The *seven* day week was, but before then the Romans had a rigid
> >*eight* day week.
> The latter, of course, persisted all the way into the 1960's, as
> immortalized by the Beatles' song.

And then there's the Gordon Dickson story "Zeepsday", about how Earth
acquires an eighth day to its week; most people sleep through this
day, but a few discover it. Eventually, it's determined that Earth
time has been "salted" with time borrowed from a different planet;
fortunately, the protagonist is allergic to foreign time, so Zeepsday
makes him itch. All is set right in the end.

Barry gules and argent of seven and six,        John Cowan
on a canton azure fifty molets of the second.
        --blazoning the U.S. flag     
Received on Thu Jun 08 2006 - 08:23:02 PDT

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