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Printed from: http://petersburgcity.com/news/culture/2007/07/27/words_worth/|
Culture news, 27.07.2007 18:25
WordТs worthOne of the interesting effects of dacha life is that you begin to lose track of the days of the week. You stop marking the days as Monday or Saturday, and instead think in terms of Уthe day it rainedФ or Уthe scorcher.Ф
Lost in the haze of days out at my dacha, I started wondering about Russian calendars, and I discovered that IТve simply reverted to the old Russian way of experiencing days and months.
From recorded time, ancient Russians had 12 months, but until the 12th century Ч and until much later in many places Ч the names of the months were very different from what we know now. They also varied by region and described either the weather, what was happening in nature or the work that was traditionally done.
January: перезимье (mid-winter) or просинец (from синий Ч blue Ч when everything is colored with the bluish tint of rime).
February: бокогрей (from греть Ч when things begin warming up) or сечн€ (from сечь Ч when the undergrowth is culled).
March: протальник (from проталина, thawed patches of snow) or сухый (УdryФ; when peasants check to see how the earth is drying out).
April: снегогон (from гон€ть снег Ч when the snow is chased away); цветень (from цвеcти, when plants begin to bloom); or березозол (from берЄза Ч birch Ч and зола Ч ashes; when birch tree ashes are used to fertilize the land).
May: травник (from трава, when grass appears).
June: хлеборост (when the grain Ч хлеб Ч grows high), or изок (a term for grasshoppers or cicadas that begin their serenade).
July: макушка лета (the Уtop of the head of the yearФ); косень (from косить, when crops are cut); червень (УredФ Ч when berries ripen); or липец (when the липа Ч linden tree Ч blooms).
August: разосол (from солить, to salt, when vegetables are put up) or серпень (from серп, the sickle used to harvest).
September: хмурень (from хмурый, downcast) or руин (УwindyФ).
October: листопад (Уwhen leaves fallФ) or свадебник (Уthe time of weddingsФ).
November: полузимник (middle of the winter months) or грудень (from груда Ч pile Ч when the frozen earth is Уpiled upФ).
December: студень (the time of cold).
What lyrical and descriptive words for plain old months! What a shame Russian didnТt retain them as many other Slavic languages did. We English speakers would have had an easier time right after Russia accepted the Western names of the months: €нуарий, фебуар, марот, априль, маи, иунь, иуль, аугуст, сентемврий, октемврий, новембар, декембар. Russians seem to have suffered with these unpronounceable and incomprehensible names, and over the centuries the names were Russified to their present form.
Ч Michele A. Berdy
Sergey Chernov is on vacation
News source: times.spb.ru
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