Re: Why not 13 months? (Was La Systeme Metrique)

Paulo da Costa (
Thu, 17 Aug 1995 15:50:36 GMT

In <40lsl7$> myers <myers> writes:

>Look, people. Among the majority of the english speaking people in the
>world (and the french, spanish, german, and russian speakers too), the
>week starts on a monday. [...]

No, it doesn't. The Jewish week (where our week comes from) starts on
Sunday and ends on Saturday (the Sabbath). The Romans used inclusive
counting, making Sunday (declared the Lord's Day by Constantine) the
first _and last_ day of the week. The numbering used by the Catholic
church (dies domenica, secunda feria, tertia feria, ..., sabbatum)
survives unaltered in Portuguese (domingo, segunda-feira, etc). The
OED itself defines Sunday as the first day of the week, so the British
week starts exactly where it should, as it does in all of the former
(western) Roman empire.

On the other hand, Eastern people who adopted the week in more recent times
seem to have got it wrong. That includes the Slavs and the Chinese, who
number their days starting from Monday. The Germans seem to have forgotten
all about it (if they ever knew it), probably because the sequence is not
obvious from the names they use. The result is that there is an ISO standard
defining the week as starting on Monday, which may be practical but is
certainly not historical.

Paulo M. C(astello) da Costa, /\/\/\ Minha terra tem palmeiras /\/\/\
Philips Research Laboratories, \/\/\/ Onde canta o sabia'... \/\/\/
Building WAY5 093, Prof. Holstlaan 4, 5656 AA Eindhoven, The Netherlands
E-mail: Phone: +31 40 742147 FAX: +31 40 744657