Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday, Rome, Language, and Boudicca of the Iceni

Friday is more than just something that keeps Thursday from bumping into Saturday.

Which reminds me, in the tradition of after-dinner speakers, of an amusing story. You've probably heard it before, but here goes: this fellow gets called into his boss's office, and is told to close the door. The manager looks upset.

"It's come to my attention," the manager said, "that twenty percent of all sick days in this department are on Friday. I want you to give me a full report on what's behind this abuse."

Which is one reason why the Lemming never regretted not following the usual 'success track' in corporate America.

Back to Friday. Which is entirely distinct from Thursday and Saturday: which come from different pantheons. Although Thor and Saturn both liked beer. No, wait: Thor liked beer, Saturn liked wine, or something like that.

Neither of which have much to do with Friday.

There's some interesting stuff about Friday, Tuesday, and where the Germanic languages came from in:

"A Grammar of Proto-Germanic"
Winfred P. Lehmann; Jonathan Slocum, ed.
6.1. The Culture of the Speakers of Proto-Germanic
Linguistics Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin

The writing style is a trifle on the dry side - and my forebears are described from the point of view of the Romans. Understandably, since they're the folks who were storing data in external devices: writing things down, in other words.

The Romans were fine engineers, great at organizing things, but the little guys didn't - I think - relate all that well to the outsize beer-drinking folks living along the north side of their territory. We left quite an impression on them, though. Literally, in the case of Boudicca of the Iceni. Which is another topic.

Back to Friday. Here's what that U of T at A thing has to say:

"...The equations with Roman gods are maintained in our names of the days of the week: Tuesday honoring Tiu, Wednesday Wodan, Thursday Thor, and Friday, with the goddess Freyja representing Venus..."

The Lemming thinks that there's a certain Roman bias here - Venus might just as well be representing Freyja. But that's all water under the bridge. The Roman Empire's been out of business for over a dozen centuries now. And that's another topic.

The Lemming will be very, very glad when this cold has finished working its way through my system. Which may explain the organization (if that's the right word) of this post.


Brigid said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wodan, Thor, and Freyja are NORSE deities. Not Roman. *headdesk* Must resist urge to go a viking all over the writer of that article.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Maybe I should have used a longer excerpt, starting with "...Julius Caesar has included such an account of the Germans around 55 B.C. in Book 6 of his Gallic War. Tacitus presents much the same information in his Germania of a century and a half later. From Caesar's account we can conclude that the Germani, as he calls them, were still largely hunter-gatherers in the first century before our era..." "...Our knowledge of their religion or religions is based most directly on information gleaned from the accounts of Caesar and Tacitus. According to Tacitus in his brief section 9, they worshipped especially Mercury, his Latin for Wodan/Odin, Hercules for Thor, and Mars for Tiu...."

The academician pretty clearly knew that Thor and company were deities of the "Germani" - but you can see why I decided not to incorporate in this post extensive specimens of the convoluted prolixity in which academicians such as the author of this work are inclined to write.

Over a dozen centuries after Julius Caesar ran into the "Germani," the folks living in the north end of northwestern Europe were presumably more distinct from those living in contemporary Germany around the time of Tacitus. But the Norse are, arguably, still part of the Germanic people of Europe.

As for the writer's style? Like many other academicians, Winfred - or maybe Jonathan - employs the sort of tumescent prose endemic to that subculture.

My experience, at the undergraduate level, was that papers written with less puffery got the job done.

And that's another topic.

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