Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lost In Translation: Monday, Monday

I find the names of days of the week fascinating, especially because of how different they are in other languages (it’s about the only thing I remember from four years of high school Spanish). But let’s look at Mondays from around the world:

Spanish: Lunes
Italian: Lunedi
French: Lundi
Romanian: Luni
German: Montag
Danish: Mandag
Icelandic: Mánudagur
Portuguese: Segunda-feira
Latvian: Pirmdiena
Polish: Poniedziałek
Slovak: Pondelok

English as well as its Germanic cousins have variations on moon (which is the same in English, Icelandic and Danish, but mond in German) added to their word for day. The Romance languages, on the other hand, have variations on the word moon, which is Luna (Spanish, Italian, Romanian) and Lune (French). It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the reason for “Moon Day” representing this day of the week goes back to theGreeks, where it was called “Selenes dies.” 

However, Slavic languages like Polish and Slovak above don’t use the Moon origin. They call it “Day after Sunday.” In Polish, for example, day is dzien, after is po, and Sunday is Niedziela—Poniedziałek means after-Sunday.

Portuguese, if you’ll look above, is unique. Like some languages, it calls Monday the “second day” although “feira” actually means fair, like a day of celebration. This makes Monday the second day of celebration in Portuguese and in a few other languages.

I wish I could find more sources for Monday in other languages! It’s hard because I don’t know how to read non-Latin letters >: |

And a lot of Google Translate.


  1. This is definitely interesting! Thanks for shedding some multicultural awareness into the days of the week!

  2. Somehow, I missed where you said you were talking about Mondays. The whole post, I thought "Wow, two years of high school Spanish and many years of having Spanish-speaking students in my class, and I always thought Wednesday was Miercoles." (I may have misspelled that, sorry.). Thank goodness I'm still (sort-of) right. I didn't know the rest though, thanks!

  3. I'm totally embarrassed that I had to go look this up, because I used to know it quite well.

    Scots Gaelic: Diluain. (Pronounced "juh-low-nn"... at least I remembered how to say it once I saw it!)

  4. Portuguese is unique in many things, and of course I'm proud of it - it's my heritage. :) I also love to learn things in different languages, so I love this blog post!
    - EEV


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