Friday, December 01, 2006

Random Christmas Fact

When I was living in Denmark it made me very happy to find out that the Danish word for Christmas time is juletid. It's pronounced more like "yuleteeth"* than "yuletide", but you can blame that on the Great Vowel Shift.** (And idiosyncratic Danish consonant issues).

It's not often that random etymologies give me warm and fuzzy feelings,*** so this was a memorable experience.


* So I haven't worked out how to do phonetics in html yet. So sue me. <- No Christmas spirit for you.

** Which was totally not my fault. One minute those vowels were fine, and the next minute—whoah! Turn your back on the English language for just a couple of centuries, and look what happens! But the point is, it was like that when I left it, and you can't prove otherwise.

*** I'm not that sort of linguist.


Me said...

I spent almost every Christmas as a child in's really a special time there. So beautiful...and, uhm, what's with the Parrot fixation?

Sarah said...

Well, it sounds like the vowel shifts in Spanish and in Italian--and I can't do anything with letters to describe them except to say from hard d to soft d to th. They can sue me, too, if they want to play Grinch.

Looking forward to more Holidailies entries!

saxifraga said...

Cool to see my mother tongue beeing the focus of your random christmas fact. I don't know anything about the linguistic background though, but correct spelling is juletid ;-)

StyleyGeek said...

Thanks Saxifraga: my biggest problem with Danish is that I get it mixed up with Swedish (I learned Swedish before I started learning Danish). I'm pretty sure jultid is the Swedish spelling. Maybe I should have stuck with that for the post :) I've fixed it in the post now though.

Sarah: The vowel shift I meant was the sound you get in "meet" going to the sound in "might" (i > ei). The consonant shift d/t > th is found in a lot of languages, you are right. I didn't know you got it in Italian, though: that's pretty cool. (I know nothing about Italian). It's an independent development in Danish, though. Just those crazy random Danes :)

Me: I have to admit, I never actually spent a Christmas in Denmark. We always went across to Geekman's family in Sweden. But the run-up to Christmas was always lovely. And a Swedish christmas is very nice.

As for the parrots. Um. Who knows? I never lived in a country where parrots hang out in the cities before. It's kind of exciting. The Australians are all "Yeah, yeah, it's a bird. So what?" But I can't help myself and have to take lots of photos.