le Midi (etymology)

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by orlando09, May 18, 2007.

  1. orlando09 Senior Member

    France, PACA
    English (England)
    Hello

    As i understand it, the term " le Midi" , for the south of France, originally meant midday (also Il Mezzogiorno in Italian). What is the connection? Is it to do with midday being when the day is warmest (and the south of France is also warm)? or is it that the Occident is where the sun sets and the Orient is where it rises, so someone decideded south corresponded (with less obvious logic) to where the sun is at its height? (in the middle) Or am I missing something?
     
  2. orlando09 Senior Member

    France, PACA
    English (England)
    Ps I read that the term Septentrion, relating to the north, came from the seven stars in the constellation that includes the North Star - a somewhat different etymology again (not related to the sun)
     
  3. orlando09 Senior Member

    France, PACA
    English (England)
    Does nobody know the answer to this ? ie why Mi-Di (midday) refers to the south?
     
  4. Denis the fatalist Senior Member

    Monaco Monte-Carlo
    France/French
    Nice question. Although I have no evidence of it, I think that, Midi or Mezzogiorno, the name has not been given by the aborigenes, but by people who stood... North. So it's a place they could reach heading South, that is to say the exact direction given by the sun at "Midi"...
    That would explain why Midday is not the south of England : no sun available at twelve, it's raining, you've to look instead at the moss on the north bask of trees...(just a joke )
     
  5. orlando09 Senior Member

    France, PACA
    English (England)
    LOL.But is that correct? Surely the sun is directly above at midday? Or is that just at the equator? Is it to the south in our parts? If so, then this soudns a reasonable explanation to me.
     
  6. orlando09 Senior Member

    France, PACA
    English (England)
    Actually, le Petit Robert proposes, as one of its definitions, Midi = the south of any country, as in "le midi de l'Angleterre". I must say I've never heard this referred to by anyone though!
     
  7. orlando09 Senior Member

    France, PACA
    English (England)
    While I'm on this topic - what is the best definition of the Midi anyway? Is it the areas that speak the Langue d'Oc? Or areas bordering Spain and the Mediterranean?...
     
  8. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    hello orlando09 and welcome :)

    Now I'm afraid your last question is getting rather outside the scope of these linguistic forums. Please refer to Wikipedia, google, etc or other internet resources for such research questions. :)

    Thanks for understanding!

    Jann
    Moderator

    PS. You might also find some links of interest in the Countries thread from our Resources subforum.
     
  9. orlando09 Senior Member

    France, PACA
    English (England)
    No problem, thanks
     
  10. Denis the fatalist Senior Member

    Monaco Monte-Carlo
    France/French
    Wherever you are the equator is in any direction since its go eastwards/westwards, but the shortest way to get is to head to... midi, that means in the direction of the sun at its highest of the day, wherever you are... As for the best definition I guess there are as many as there are ways to spak about it. True I think, the langue d'Oc may be a criterium. In French at least neither Spain nor the Riviera are part of the midi.
    "Midi le juste y allume de feux
    la mer, la mer, toujours recommencée."
    Paul Valéry, le cimetière marin (in Sète)
     
  11. paulio Senior Member

    UK, English
    Just to clarify two things:
    1) If you go directly east or west, you will never arrive at the equator.
    2) If you are north of the Tropic of Cancer (23° 26′ 22" north of the equator), the sun is always in the south, if you are south of the Tropic of Capricorn (23° 26′ 22" south of the equator) it is always in the north. If you are between the two it depends on what time of year it is.
     

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