February 26, 2005

Eight Days a Week

Recently, an overstressed friend of mine bemoaned the fact that there just weren't enough days in the week to get everything done. Perhaps she should move to rural West Africa, where many language groups still use their traditional eight-day week. For instance, the Yémba people of western Cameroon have an eight-day week, with the day names shown in the standard, IPA-inspired orthography on the right (consult the Yémba dictionary [PDF] for more details). The Yémba week has five days for working in the field, two market days (four days apart), and a day of rest. It's handy to have the "extra" day each week, though when I lived there I found that the mismatch between the traditional and Western weeks caused no end of confusion. This was partly ameliorated by the popular dual-system calendars and diaries published by SIL Cameroon, showing both 7- and 8-day weeks.

Posted by Steven Bird at February 26, 2005 05:34 AM