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Re: Day & month names

From:DOUGLAS KOLLER <laokou@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 2, 2000, 0:24
From: "Raymond Brown"

> At 2:37 pm -0400 1/5/00, Nik Taylor wrote:
> >Didn't they have months before making contact with Europeans?
> Yes, of course - but that was the lunisolar calendar, still used of
> I was talking about naming the months of the western, Gregorian calendar > when used in China. It would be very confusing, I think, to use the same > set of names for months in two different calendar systems. AFAIK the > practical Chinese just numbered the western months.
The Japanese days of the week hail from Chinese, where the sun and the moon, plus the five visible planets made up the seven days (ObConlang: Géarthnuns pilfers this for its view of the first seven heavenly bodies): nichiyoobi <= ri4 yao4(or yue4) ri4 getsuyoobi <= yue4 yao4 ri4 etc. The Chinese then shot for numbers. Li3bai4yi1 for Monday ("li3bai4" actually means "worship" and is connected to missionary history) and so on. I used this (and I have no missionary agenda) without impunity in Taiwan and Hong Kong. When I was there, PRC usage preferred xing1qi1" ("star/planet period") over "libai", I suppose to dispense of missionary influence; you tack on a number at the end, but for Sunday. "Xingqi" also worked and was heard in Taiwan; don't know if "libai" is regaining currency in the mainland. I would imagine "sing1kei4" (Cantonese for "xingqi) is gaining popularity in HK after reunification, and is cited in the Sidney Lau dictionary, but I cannot attest at this point whether the masses are using it with any frequency. The months had other names, but the ancient stuff ain't my forté. It seemed the eighth month had the character for "leaf" in it, and there were some esoteric references to months on temple columns which were explained to me once but I've long since forgotten even though I was attempting to take notes. Those, too, got transferred to Japan, and some Japanese personal names are derived from the old system (e.g. a girl might be named Yooko ["yoo" meaning "leaf"] 'cause she was born in August), though for months the Japanese are now using the number system. As for practicality, define it as you will. I have no scholastic backing to draw upon, but it seems to me that the Japanese had no qualms about mashing the lunar holidays onto the Western calendar. For example, "double-seven", the Chinese Valentine's Day (though Taiwanese florist shops do their best to make sure you celebrate on *both* Feb. 14 *and* "double-seven"), is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month (there is a myth behind this [the weaver and the cowherd, separated lovers, can only get together once a year across a bridge of magpies] and supposedly chronicles that time when two stars apparently move closer to one another); the Japanese celebrate this on July 7th. Chinese New Year, the whammy-fest of the Chinese holiday calendar is celebrated during the first few days of the Chinese new lunar year (@ mid-February). Japanese go nuts on Gregorian New Year's Day and a few days thereafter. "Obon", a Japanese placating-the-dead festival is celebrated on Aug. 12th or 13th (date?) while on the Chinese calendar, the eighth lunar month is the month where the gates of hell are thrown open to let spirits roam the earth. Usw. Perhaps Jonathan can shed some light on some of the historico-linguisitc details? Kou