Days of the Week

Back again after a long layoff; sorry about that. To avoid talking about grammar, which needs to be done at some point, I thought covering the days of the week would be useful. The Turkish word for “day” is gün, and any of these day names can be said a little more properly by saying the name from the list below plus günü, but informally just the name from the list will be fine.

  • Monday = Pazartesi
  • Tuesday = Salı (“sa-lih,” the “ı” is pronounced somewhere between a clipped-off “i” and a clipped-off “u”)
  • Wednesday = Çarşamba (“char-sham-bah”)
  • Thursday = Perşembe  (“per-shem-beh”)
  • Friday = Cuma (“joo-mah”, remember that Turkish Cs sound like English Js)
  • Saturday = Cumartesi
  • Sunday = Pazar

The origins of these names are varied. Cuma (Friday) is taken right from Arabic, and reflects that Friday is the Islamic holy day and involves obligatory congregational prayer. Cumartesi (Saturday) combines Cuma and ertesi (“next” or “following”) and literally means “the day after Cuma“. The same applies to Pazar (Sunday), which is the same word we know as “bazaar” and probably means that Sunday was the traditional shopping day in Turkish culture, and Pazartesi (Monday). Çarşamba (Wednesday) and Perşembe (Thursday) are Turkish variants of the Persian names for those days. That leaves only Salı (Tuesday) unaccounted for, and I confess if I ever knew the root there, I can’t remember what it is.

“Week” is hafta, again from Persian, and “days of the week” is haftanın günleri. Turkey keeps a Saturday-Sunday weekend, and I believe so do the Turkic Central Asian republics (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), because of their former Soviet past if nothing else.

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