Septiembre, octubre, noviembre, diciembre

If you are reading this blog you must be interested in languages, so you may already be familiar with the etymology of the last four months of the year in Spanish, English, and many other languages. They come from the Latin words for seven, eight, nine, and ten, and were thus named because the Roman calendar began in March, making September the seventh month and so on.

Despite being fascinated by languages since I was a girl, speaking at least three languages that use these words, and knowing the relevant numerical prefixes, I somehow never made the connection between the numbers and the months until recently, when I started to study Italian in preparation for an upcoming trip. I had made some progress in Italian before but have now zoomed ahead using Language Transfer, a method developed by linguist and humanitarian Mihalis Eleftheriou. In his free courses, Mr. Eleftheriou likes to draw connections between the target language and English (and sometimes other languages), and in the process points out interesting etymologies such as these.

I recommend Language Transfer’s “Complete Spanish” as a first course in Spanish (or a refresher) to anyone who reads this blog. And if Mr. Eleftheriou comes across this blog post, I encourage him to contact me. I would be delighted to send him a copy of my first book (¿Por qué?) in thanks for his help with Italian.

For the sake of completeness, the etymology of the remaining months of the year is as follows:

eneroJanus, Roman god of beginnings and gates
febreroLatin februa ‘purification’. Since February was the last month of the Roman calendar, the Romans held a feast of purification on the ides of the month (February 15).
marzoMars, god of war
abrilunknown / disputed
mayoMaia, earth goddess and wife of Vulcan
junioJuno, goddess of marriage and wife of Jupiter
julioJulius Caesar
agostoAugustus Caesar

2 thoughts on “Septiembre, octubre, noviembre, diciembre

  1. jhochberg Post author

    Fred, I can only conclude that my IQ has plummeted as I am following the weather situation in Italy, where parts of the country that we plan to visit shortly have experienced disastrous floods. I will fix this ASAP — the blog post, not the floods (I wish).


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