Every single day!

Have you ever wondered what the days of the week would be called in a language that has not been influenced by the forces that have resulted in today’s English names?

Even Japanese has names that are connected to the English names, through the planet/god connection. Tuesday, for example, is named for a god of war, and the Japanese word for that day is “fire day-of-the-week” (火曜日, kayoubi), and Mars, the name for the Roman god of war, is called “fire planet” (火星, kasei, well, technically, “fire star”). JSL’s names are generally initialisations of the English days of the week; that is, using the first letter of the words in the signs. So, they’re connected to the ancient god names through the English language.

Hebrew is the only spoken language I know that seems not to have any connection to the ancient origins of our English names for the days of the week. Basically first day, second day (יום ראשון, יום שני; yom rishon, yom sheni) etc. up until the seventh day, sabbath (שבת, shabbat).

And then, there’s Jamaica’s indigenous sign language, (Jamaican) Country Sign. It’s a much younger language, and yet its names for the days of the week are quite independent, and appear to have formed because of the community’s own culture. Take a look at this video:

My JSL isn’t all that great, but here’s my explanation based on what I was able to grasp from Jordon’s signing, plus Rian’s correction:

Sunday is the sign for “church” and “pray” in JCS
Monday is the sign for a book opening, because Monday is the day school opens
Tuesday is the sign for “arrest”/”jail”… because they take new prisoners to the prison on that day
Wednesday is the sign for “marry” because they had a lot of weddings on Wednesday
Thursday is the sign for “injection”/”clinic” because this was the day for going to the doctor
Friday is the sign for “kill” because it’s the day for slaughtering animals
Saturday is the sign for “fish”, because that is the day the fishermen come came in with fish*

I found that it was very fun to learn this. For me, the power of humanity to create language, and a part of my country’s heritage that is largely known are represented within JCS, and, indeed, within these seven signs.

Very cool.

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2 Responses to Every single day!

  1. read.robin says:

    That *is* cool! Etymology is one of my favourite branches of language. It’s heartening to know that despite our trend towards globalization communities are still unique enough to foster their own type of language!


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