22 January 2011

umtwrfa (days of the week)

For many years I have been interested in the topic of one-letter abbreviations for the days of the week. It's difficult to know what to do about Tuesday and Thursday, and Saturday and Sunday, since their first letters are not distinctive.

When I had to independently invent my own 7 abbreviations for a work-related task several years ago, I decided to use R for Thursday since the American R is the vowel in that word's first syllable here in the USA. My final system was MTWRFAU.

Googling around today I found various systems in use. There are "about 96" Google hits for UMTWRFA and 7 for MTWRFAU.

Some people use H for Thursday and/or use S for Sunday with A standing for Saturday. Google gives about 3100 hits for SMTWHFA.

MTWRF scores 29,600 hits and MTWHF gets 5,710. So at least we can agree that R must be the abbreviation for Thursday and those who prefer H are deviants.

This is an idea that rattles around in my head when I design conlang vocabularies: Shouldn't the words for the numerals 1 through 12 be in alphabetical order, so the names for days of the week and the months of the year could be self-sorting?

If your word for one is ban and your word for two is din and so forth, your days of the week could be bantag (Monday), dintag (Tuesday) etc and the abbreviations might be BDFJLMP or whatever.

But then your abbreviations for the first 7 months would easily be confused with your abbreviations for days of the week, so maybe that's not such a good idea.

And another thing. How long will mainstream calendar publishers cling to the custom of putting Sunday in the left-most column of the calendar? In modern Western Civilization, the weekend is a distinct cultural phenomenon that begins on Saturday morning (some would say Friday night) and ends late Sunday. Clearly Monday is the the beginning of the week; the weekend days belong together on the right-hand side of the calendar. In some industries (such as broadcasting) people use printed calendars which are organized that way. But good luck finding a rationally arranged calendar for home use.


yomikoma said...

I first learned R for Thursday through MIT contacts - apparently it's in widespread (and maybe official) use there.

Chris Bogart said...

I sometimes use the kanji for the days of the week in handwritten notes. They all happen to be pretty easy ones to write and remember

R.K.Harrison said...

OMG, Chris Bogart! Long time no see.

Steven Brewer said...

Your post reminded me of the middle-school schedule that my kid had to follow a couple of years ago: it was an 8-day rotation. Each day, when kids came to school, there were signs and announcements every where that this was "Day 1" or "Day 6" or whatever. It was unbelievably confusing. Everyone had to carry around a paper schedule and no-one ever could just know where they were supposed to be. Madness.

Anonymous said...

Monday-first is the standard arrangement for calendars in Britain.