Mysterious calendar

A reader of this blog would like to know if anybody knows which language this is:

Kiländer (Ray Ráán)

Rááninfel: Sunday
Serinfáál: Monday
Yóŕuwow: Tuesday
Yéélúwan: Wesnesday
Yófowan: Thursday
Yalimow: Friday
Yommol: Saturday

I discovered that the word ráán means day in Trukese/Chuukese, but this Trukese dictionary gives different, though seemingly related, words for the days of the week.

Any ideas?

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This entry was posted in Language, Puzzles.

5 Responses to Mysterious calendar

  1. Vijay John says:

    Probably some other Trukic language, then. The only ones I’ve ever heard of until now are Puluwat(ese), Satawalese, Sonsorol(ese), and Woleaian. (Until I read this, I don’t think I’d ever even heard of Trukese/Chuukese! LOL).

    I’m guessing either Puluwat or Satawalese.

  2. P. says:

    Hi Simon,

    Thanks so much for posting that! Based on your reader’s comment, I checked on Puluwat, and it looks to be very very similar. I tried taking a look inside this Puluwat grammar, and while it’s quite difficult to read, I was able to more or less make out the following:

    “The ordinals from 2nd through 6th, usually without the -an, are also the names of the days of the week from Tuesday through Saturday. Even more commonly, however, the Trukese names of the days of the week are heard, usually with a Puluwat accent: seŕin fáán, Monday; yóŕuow, Tuesday; yewúnúngat Wednesday, yeŕuuwanú Thursday, yelinu Friday and yommol Saturday.”

    Elsewhere in the same book, those ordinals are given as:

    2nd yó-ŕuw-ow-an
    3rd yé-yelú-w-an
    4th yó-f-ow-an
    5th yé-lim-ow-an
    6th yó-won-ow-an

    So I think we have a winner: Puluwat with some Trukese influence! Thanks to you and Vijay John for your help in solving this mystery.

  3. P. says:

    (Though I suppose the real mystery remains: how on earth did a calendar in such an obscure, critically endangered language end up written on a chalkboard in a percussion studio at an American university on the East Coast?)

    (And, perhaps more importantly, *who* wrote it?)

  4. Vijay John says:

    Maybe it was some linguist. Some of my “colleagues” definitely love drumming (and/or playing some other musical instrument).

    You think that’s so weird? Pretty much everything I know about these languages comes from one linguistics exercise that a professor in our department gave to his undergrads (in a class where I was one of the teaching assistants), which thankfully I still have permission to access online! (This professor works on endangered languages but certainly not on these particular ones. I’m pretty sure he got the exercise out of a book).

  5. P. says:

    If I had to guess, I’d tend to think the percussion department either had a visiting musician from that part of the world (more likely), or had a piece that used Puluwat in some way (less likely). A linguist isn’t likely to have occasion to go into that building, let alone that particular room, but it’s not impossible.

    Either way, the real astonishment is that something survived on a chalkboard for six years or more without getting erased! It was written very clearly and “officially”, i.e. not just an offhand scribble.