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Thread: French "aujourd'hui" (today), a redundant expression?

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    Post French "aujourd'hui" (today), a redundant expression?



    French language has become weirdly corrupted and illogical over time. It has even been said that the French are so rational and cerebral because it is necessary to understand all the grammatical oddities of their language.

    Let's have a look at the word aujourd'hui, meaning today. In most European languages, the word for today literally means 'this day'. For example:

    - Danish : i dag ("in day")
    - Dutch : vandag ("of day")
    - German : Heute (from Old High German hiutu, a contraction of earlier *hiu *tagu, meaning "on this day")
    - Italian : oggi (from Latin hodie, a contraction from hoc die, meaning "on this day")
    - Spanish : hoy (ditto)
    - Portuguese : hoie (ditto)

    The old French was simply hui, which looks like a blend of the Latin hodie and the Old German hiutu.

    But why did the French feel the need to add aujourd' (contraction of au jour de, meaning 'at the day of'). All together it translates as 'at the day of this day'. Sounds really repetitive and unnecessary.
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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    In Russian there is the same thing -> pleonasm for ' today '

    (google translate if you don't believe me)

    Russians are also using : " Сегодняшний день " ( sevodnishni denj ) which means todays day.

    Сегодняшний ( sevodnishni ) = todays
    день ( denj ) = day


    So, French is not that special. :)


    I don't know why, but of all Western IE languages French is the easiest language for me to learn. When I went to school, of all languages I got the highest marks for French, and I do really mean high. At the scale from 1 to 10, I got 9 & 10 for French. While for German I was lucky when I got 6.

    PS. I was also very good at Latin, but that's a different story...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    French language has become weirdly corrupted and illogical over time. It has even been said that the French are so rational and cerebral because it is necessary to understand all the grammatical oddities of their language.

    Let's have a look at the word aujourd'hui, meaning today. In most European languages, the word for today literally means 'this day'. For example:

    - Danish : i dag ("in day")
    - Dutch : vandag ("of day")
    - German : Heute (from Old High German hiutu, a contraction of earlier *hiu *tagu, meaning "on this day")
    - Italian : oggi (from Latin hodie, a contraction from hoc die, meaning "on this day")
    - Spanish : hoy (ditto)
    - Portuguese : hoie (ditto)

    The old French was simply hui, which looks like a blend of the Latin hodie and the Old German hiutu.

    But why did the French feel the need to add aujourd' (contraction of au jour de, meaning 'at the day of'). All together it translates as 'at the day of this day'. Sounds really repetitive and unnecessary.
    it looks like the french once more introduced a foreign word hui and played around with it to make it something unrecognisable
    why they would to this for a simple 'today', I have no clue

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    It sounds very formal, I would guess it was a legal phrasing fluff, something like "en l'an de grâce 2016", meaning "in the gracious year of 2016", which didn't make it to commun people French, luckly. But I wouldn't be surprise if it was part of a standard phrasing, something like "Oyez! Oyez! Au jour d'hui, sa majesté le roi déclare [whatever new law he has in mind]".

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    As a fluent Italian speaker, French sounds very primitive and illogical to me as well. The pronounciation of words it's the worst part because they make the long complicated Latin words into short 3 vowel sounding words as if it's some Asian language.

    'Today' in Albanian is 'sot', a shift from 'kso dite' meaning 'this day'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    it looks like the french once more introduced a foreign word hui and played around with it to make it something unrecognisable
    why they would to this for a simple 'today', I have no clue
    I'm not sure to have well understood meaning your post here?are you thinking 'hui' is a foreign word in French; not at all,it's the natural romance form for 'today';
    French folks said sometimes in past the abominable "au jour d' aujourd' hui" !!! (at our time, to date)

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    Quote Originally Posted by MOESAN View Post
    I'm not sure to have well understood meaning your post here?are you thinking 'hui' is a foreign word in French; not at all,it's the natural romance form for 'today';
    French folks said sometimes in past the abominable "au jour d' aujourd' hui" !!! (at our time, to date)
    I think he meant that hui comes from Old German hiutu, via Frankish. So many French words that sound Latin in origin actually have Frankish roots. I think there are over one thousand of them in common usage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolan View Post
    I think he meant that hui comes from Old German hiutu, via Frankish. So many French words that sound Latin in origin actually have Frankish roots. I think there are over one thousand of them in common usage.
    OK
    For I know, 'hui' is a native romance (<<latin) word, not germanic! Look at other romance languages and latin form given by maciamo.
    Concerning germanic (Frankish for the most) words in french, yes some non negligeable % exists, for the most concerning war/weapons language I think, but not exclusively. Almost all the French words beginning with "aspirated" H- are of Germanic origin except "haut" << 'alt-' (but here we have a phonetical Germanic influence on a latin word). In fact this H is no more aspirated in French except some Oïl dialects but a glottal stop prevents a "linkage" with precedent final consonnant:
    "les oiseaux": /lè zwazo/ - "un homme" : /~ön nom/ (latin H faded out since a long time) >< "des héros" (G): /dè_ ,éro/ - "un heaume" : /~ö_ 'ôm/
    &: sorry I put the '~' before the vowel to show it's nasalized - for phonetic police I'm obliged to do a copy-and-paste, not always with good results!

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    +; one thousand of Germanic words in common usage? I doubt!!!
    I wouls say between two and three hundred... a,d it depends on what we think by 'common'

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    Quote Originally Posted by MOESAN View Post
    +; one thousand of Germanic words in common usage? I doubt!!!
    I wouls say between two and three hundred... a,d it depends on what we think by 'common'
    It depends what we consider common usage, but also if we only count all the words derived from the same roots separate or not. Wikipedia has an extensive list of French words of Germanic origin. I copied and pasted the list of words starting by A and B and my word processor counted about 2400 lines for different words. I'd say there are over 10,000 words of Germanic origin in French, and many also came into usage in Italian and Spanish, or entered the English language through Norman French. Just look at words like blue and brown, which are of Germanic origin and replaced the Latin words in French and Italian.

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    @Coriolan
    I partly agree. It's the old question of dictionaries and common vernacular. I have not yet looked at this list of words but I (pre-)suppose there is a lot of obsolete words in it.
    The common Germanic words in different romance languages is a more interesting question? By instance how can colours foreign names, so basic language, replace the native names? Maybe the too complicated latin classification which had, I believe, two different names for 'white' and 'black' according to bright or gloomy aspect? Celtic languages had not undergone this phenomenon for colours; this and military words in romances could show also a non negligeable influence of diverse Germanic tribes upon the ex-Roman empire territory, after the Empire fall? The West European nobility has been of Germanic extraction for a long time.

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    Or was hui the old french equivalent of the castillian spanish hoy? Only that the french are averse to pronouncing the open o sound in certain contexts....

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    Just erosion

    I think it's all simpler than that. It probably has to do with phonetic "erosion". The latin "hodie" gradually weakened into 'hui' until people felt that the word wasn't "material" enough to convey a meaning, or to be clearly heard in the sound chain. It was then re-expanded to give it more body. Hence "aujourd'hui".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    But why did the French feel the need to add aujourd' (contraction of au jour de, meaning 'at the day of'). All together it translates as 'at the day of this day'. Sounds really repetitive and unnecessary.
    In my view it's not that bad. Some constructs we are used to, are much worse - like democratic republic or peoples' republic. As we know, countries which call themselves like this, respect the voice of their people the least - opposite by repetition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hrvclv View Post
    I think it's all simpler than that. It probably has to do with phonetic "erosion". The latin "hodie" gradually weakened into 'hui' until people felt that the word wasn't "material" enough to convey a meaning, or to be clearly heard in the sound chain. It was then re-expanded to give it more body. Hence "aujourd'hui".
    not stupid at all but 'hui' [ùi] was clear enough in itself for a pop who say 'c' soir' [sswar] in place of 'ce soir' [së swar] and 'une oie' [ünwa] so close to 'une noix' [ünnwa][ùnnwà]- a 'but' more against my first 'but', yes, 'hui' was close enough to 'oui' (yes) [wi] very common word and answer; that could explain why it disappear under this simple form when 'huit' (8) was kept: the 'huit' must have been [ùi] too but survived only with the pronounciation [ùit] - not the sure explanation but a senseful one -
    nevertheless I agree concerning your general statement

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    Maybe it is just a matter of "articulatory comfort". Once reduced to "hui", the word combines two front vowels, quite close to each other, unlike "oui", which associates a back vowel (a semi-consonant, actually) to a front vowel.

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    not sure it's the best explanation: curiously in breton 'oeuf' is said 'vi'/'wi' or 'ùi' but in the 'ùi' territory someones say 'u' ! (very simple!)
    in french, 'oeuf' became often 'ö' or 'öù' and even 'u' in some poitevin dialects (so same result as in breton dialects spite a different route!
    these two too simple monosyllabes reduced to a single vowel remainded all the way!
    and think into 'eau' /o/!
    but languages are capricious things sometimes (and interesting too)! contredictory forces are often in play -
    nos vad deoc'h (bonne nuit à vous) - boune nuetch / boune nueit

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    So aujourd'hui ends up meaning something like: on the day which happens to be this very day.

    At least it leaves people in absolutely no doubt that we are talking about today, as in this very day, right now.

    This is just another example of a very long construction to describe things which could readily be described in one syllable (such as s'il vous plaît)
    or what about qu'est-ce que c'est
    which only takes three very short syllables in English, but in French, like aujourd'hui, they want to emphasise that we are asking about this thing, right here, what is this thing, this one, right here, not over there, here, this one, what is it?
    Misseri e sceccu cu tuttâ tistera
    comu vi l’haju a diri, a vastunati
    ca mancu haju Sali di salera!

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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Joey D View Post
    So aujourd'hui ends up meaning something like: on the day which happens to be this very day.

    At least it leaves people in absolutely no doubt that we are talking about today, as in this very day, right now.

    This is just another example of a very long construction to describe things which could readily be described in one syllable (such as s'il vous plaît)
    or what about qu'est-ce que c'est
    which only takes three very short syllables in English, but in French, like aujourd'hui, they want to emphasise that we are asking about this thing, right here, what is this thing, this one, right here, not over there, here, this one, what is it?
    I agree that these French expressions seem rather long-winded. I think that the reason is that if they were shorter they would sound like other words and be more confusing in conversation. Hui instead of aujourd'hui is just too short and sounds like oui. Qu'est-ce que c'est ? is also three syllables like the English What is it?, so it makes no difference. It's only longer to write. You can also say Qu'est-ce ?, which is only one syllable and also means What is it?, but few people say it as it doesn't sound good. When you translate Qu'est-ce que c'est ? it does sound ridiculously redundant (What is it that it is?).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I agree that these French expressions seem rather long-winded. I think that the reason is that if they were shorter they would sound like other words and be more confusing in conversation. Hui instead of aujourd'hui is just too short and sounds like oui. Qu'est-ce que c'est ? is also three syllables like the English What is it?, so it makes no difference. It's only longer to write. You can also say Qu'est-ce ?, which is only one syllable and also means What is it?, but few people say it as it doesn't sound good. When you translate Qu'est-ce que c'est ? it does sound ridiculously redundant (What is it that it is?).
    That's a pretty good explanation as to why it has evolved the way it has.

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    I think french was a very reducing languages at the phonetic level and creating too much short homophones what obliged to a reaction by creating complicated long expressions to be well understood: punished for its sins!

    but today, french places the interrogative words in phrase end: "qu'est-ce que c'est" became "c'est quoi?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by MOESAN View Post
    @Coriolan
    I partly agree. It's the old question of dictionaries and common vernacular. I have not yet looked at this list of words but I (pre-)suppose there is a lot of obsolete words in it.
    The common Germanic words in different romance languages is a more interesting question? By instance how can colours foreign names, so basic language, replace the native names? Maybe the too complicated latin classification which had, I believe, two different names for 'white' and 'black' according to bright or gloomy aspect? Celtic languages had not undergone this phenomenon for colours; this and military words in romances could show also a non negligeable influence of diverse Germanic tribes upon the ex-Roman empire territory, after the Empire fall? The West European nobility has been of Germanic extraction for a long time.
    I didn't know that Latin had two words for white and for black. But one of these survived in French (blanc, noir). Those that were replaced by Germanic words are blue, brown and grey (bleu, brun, gris). They were also replaced in other Romance languages (Occitan, Italian, but only grey in Spanish and Portuguese) so their must have been something inherently wrong with the Latin version.

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