Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lost In Translation: July

We’re in the second half of the year now. I wonder what I’ll look at when I’m finally done. Maybe we should add more months because I have no ideas.

July is kind of an easy one since it was named for Julius Caesar because whoop-die-doo, it was the month he was born in. It was actually the fifth month in the Roman calendar, which is why before that it was called Quintilis, which means fifth and honestly is just a way cooler name. I think it’s the Q.

Anyway, it was Iulius in Latin, then Juil/Jule in Old French and Julie in Anglo French before English picked it up. Funnily enough, we in English used to spell it with an I, like in Latin, and pronounce it with the accent on the first syllable, making it something like “YU-lie”. And there is no reason for why it changed other than the Oxford English Dictionary calling it “abnormal and unexplained”, the most accurate description relating to etymology that I’ve come across.

And there’s a little more to the story than that since we had to have a name for the month in Old English before we started using the one passed down by the French. July used to be liða se aefterra, which is something like “later mildness”. I wish I could have found out more about this, but unfortunately it seems like most places are only interested in the Roman origins rather than the English ones. Which seems kind of ironic considering that English is the language we’re supposed to be speaking here.



  1. July is the height of summer - wouldn't call it mild.
    Have you done measurements? Time - seconds, minutes, etc. Or inches and feet. Or metrics. Or even cooking.

  2. I prefer July because it's nice and short.

  3. It's because the Romans kept meticulous records.

    The pronunciation really got changed because parents got tired of their kids going around saying, "You lie first."

  4. Weird about how the word evolved, but that seems quite common for words!

  5. But English is the language that hides out in alleys, waylaying other languages and rifling through their pockets for spare vocabulary. Our words come from everywhere.

    July, my birthday month...

  6. Isn't it funny how words with unusual letters the Q and X and Z just seem cooler?


Please validate me.