Tag: linguistics

10,000 days

Every year we celebrate the day of our birth.1 Well many people do. Others elect to deny the passage of time by not acknowledging this annual event. We also like to celebrate/recognize anniversaries of other notable events such as marriages (relationships in general) and tragedies. In fact we recognize the concept so widely that most languages have a specific word for it. Coming to English via Medieval Latin, anniversary signifies a yearly return. Interestingly enough modern usage is borrowing upon this concept in an increasingly liberal manner. For example, I think that “10 year anniversary” is a tad redundant and that “10th anniversary” makes more sense. However, I know that the former is perhaps even more pervasive.

It is the other usages which pose the problem. “Our two month anniversary”. “Our three week anniversary”. Almost everyone understands what is being said here. But there is a contradiction here. I can’t speak for such development in other languages (feel free to comment if you have an idea), but in English I can picture two possible lines of evolution in this situation. The first is that new words will form derived from anniversary. The second and ultimately more likely scenario is that anniversary will lose its annual connotation and will be properly modified with other words like in my examples above.

All of this is an elaborate and well-researched introduction to my main point: I am 10,000 days old today. So you can call it my 10,000 day anniversary (which is a bit odd sounding), or we can coin a new word and call it my 10,000th dayversary. I don’t really like the form of that word though. I don’t like the yv together, it isn’t a combination which happens in English, so perhaps we can borrow on the more melodic spanish translation of day and use diaversary. With the pronounciation as /dia/, not /daɪə/. The word we use shouldn’t distract from the significance of the day. I think society would be more interesting if we denoted age in days as a matter of course. If the drinking age was 7000 days instead of 19 years (in NS and other Canadian provinces). I can definitely appreciate the extra cognitive overhead this would impose, and realize that is the reason we use years. Even with years, it takes me a fair bit of time after a birthday before I can consistently recall my new “age” if asked.

If you would like to play with dates and see when your next significant diaversary is I recommend visiting timeanddate.com. In general it is a great site for the temporally inclined (or those who would like to be).


  1. I realize that not every culture does this, but mine does. 

September 24, 2009

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