Friday, June 10, 2011

Lost in Translation: The (Second) Day of War

I’m not very good with languages (sometimes I think even my grasp on English is tenuous) but I’ve always found it interesting how different names can be for the same thing, as I mentioned in the post I did about Monday. But that was just one day. What about the others?

Tuesday in other languages
Spanish: Martes
Italian: Martedi
German: Dienstag
Dutch: Dinsdag
Polish: Wtorek
Swedish: Tisdag
Norwegian: Tirsdag
Latvian: Otrdiena
Romanian: Marti
Estonian: Teisipäev
Lithuanian: Antradienis
French: Mardi
Slovak: Utorok
Filipino: Martes
Albanian: E martë
Hungarian: Kedd

As you can see, there are two major variations. If you look at the Old English language, their word for Tuesday was Tiwesdaeg, coming from the Proto Germanic Tiu, better known as Tyr, the Norse god of the sky and war.

The other major influence is Mars, the Roman god of war (also known as the Greek Ares). Yes, it seems war was the big thing in naming this day. Almost every Tuesday on that list falls under one or the other. The Latvian Otr-, Estonian Teisi- and Lithuanian Antra- are their variations of Tyr!

Almost, but not all of them. Poland, for example, has Wtorek, which might be a variation on a no longer commonword for second, wtory. It’s possible that the Slovak word Utorok is also a variation on second (WARNING: I have not been able to find confirmation on this, so beware). And similarly, the Hungarian Kedd is probably a variation on the word kettid, or what is now ket—two.

Gods of war or the number two…everyone has their own way of looking at things.

Google Translate
Physics Forums. Seriously. That’s where I got some of this information. But that’s not even the weirdest source.
Offspring Forum. And I’m talking about the freaking band here. They actually had stuff about days of the week posted in their forum. Again, I wasn’t able to confirm this, so I wouldn’t be comfortable calling it accurate.
Róna-Tas, András. Hungarians and Europe in the early Middle Ages: an introduction to early Hungarian History. Central European University Press, 1999.


  1. Sheesh. Guess I'll take my boxing gloves with me on Tuesdays from now on.

  2. This is so interesting! Thanks for doing all that research :)

  3. I did know about Odin's connection to Wednesday, but not Tyr to Tuesday...

  4. I learned about the connection to Mars, the god of war, in Latin class way back in the tenth grade. It is SO cool what you manage to find when you go digging, isn't it?

  5. I don't even know how I would BEGIN to pronounce some of those. Jeez.

    <3 Gina Blechman


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