Tuesday, November 27, 2012

MWW 36-37: Өдөр / Хоног

Cyrillic
өдөр

Transcription
ödör
IPA
[өtər]
Layman’s
Pronunciation
OH-der
Translation
day
In Genghis Khan’s time it was edür.
Cyrillic
хоног

Transcription
honog
IPA
ɔnəq]
Layman’s
Pronunciation
HAW-nuck
Translation
day (24 hours)
In Genghis Khan’s time it was qonuγ.

Is it cheating to have the word of the day be two words? If not, then today’s word is actually two words, which are one word in English. Both өдөр and хоног mean “day,” but in different contexts. It’s the English word “day” which is ambiguous here. Mongolian distinguishes between day as a point in time and a period of time. Өдөр is the point-in-time word, while хоног is the period-of-time word. Өдөр refers to the time when the sun is out and shining. It contrasts with шөнө, “night.” Хоног means a period of 24 hours. I believe хоног is related to the verb хонох, “to spend a night.” When you also want to refer to a particular day, you use өдөр, but when you want to talk about a number of days, you say хоног. Some examples.

Incidentally, even though Mongolian has names for days of the week, it doesn’t have one for “week” itself. Mongolians say долоон хоног, literally “seven days.” Expectedly it does not have convenient phrases like “last week” or “next week.” In a way, долоон хоног has taken on a life of its own as a single vocabulary item. Once I heard someone say хоёр долоон хоног, “two seven-days.”

Speaking of weeks, let’s look at the Mongolian words for the days of the week. There are actually 3.28 sets of words for the days of the week.

English Name
Boring Soviet-era name
Cooler
Soviet-era name
Tibetan-
derived astrological name
Sanskrit-derived astrological
name
Monday
нэгдэх өдөр
“first day”

Даваа
Davaa
“moon”
Сумъяа
 “moon”
Tuesday
хоёрдохь өдөр
“second day”

Мягмар
Myagmar
“Mars”
Ангараг
“Mars”
Wednesday
гуравдахь өдөр
“third day”

Лхагва
Lhagva
“Mercury”
Буд
“Mercury”
Thursday
дөрөвдөх өдөр
“fourth day”

Пүрэв
Pürev
“Jupiter”
Бархасвадь
“Jupiter”
Friday
тавдахь өдөр
“fifth day”

Баасан
Baasan
“Venus”
Сугар
“Venus”
Saturday
зургаадахь өдөр
“sixth day”
half-good day
Бямба
Byamba
“Saturn”
Санчир
“Saturn”
Sunday
долоодохь өдөр
“seventh day”
full good day
Ням
Nyam
“sun”
Адъяа
“sun”

The words “half-good day” and “completely good day” apparently come from the Soviet-era practice of making people working half a day on Saturday and giving them the whole day off on Sunday.

The names in the first row are the most common, with the second column names sometimes showing up in conversation (or text messages). The Tibetan names are used in more formal situations, while the alternate Sanskrit names seem to appear only in Buddhist horoscope books. The Tibetan words are also extremely common elements in personal names. (The alternate names also appear in personal names, but much less commonly.) You’ve already met Баасан in the previous MWW аргал.

Considering how neatly the astrological names coincide with the Germanic and Romance names for the weekdays, and considering that Mongolia probably got its astrology from India via Tibet along with Buddhism, I wonder, does this trace back to some sort of Proto-Indo-European religious thingy?

EDIT: The alternate astrological names (in the last column) are of Indian origin, NOT native words as originally posted. Sorry!

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