Moon and month

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sufler

Senior Member
Polish - Poland
Hello!
I noticed that in many languages the words for "month" and "moon" are very similar or just the same? Any ideas why?

Indonesian: bulan - bulan
Belorussian: месяц - месяц
Chinese: 月亮 - 月
Croatian: mjesec - mjesec
Czech: měsíc - měsíc
Danish: måne - måned
Estonian: Kuu - kuu
Filipino: buwan - buwan
Turkish: Ay - ay

and many others...
 
  • Welshie

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Many calendars are lunar - based on the time it takes the moon to complete one rotation of the earth: 28 days (roughly).
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I looked in etymonline and that said that the English word month is related to (derived from?) the word for moon, I didn't know that! Interesting.

    O.E. monað, from P.Gmc. *mænoth- (O.N. manaðr, M.Du. manet, Du. maand, O.H.G. manod, Ger. Monat, Goth. menoþs "month"), related to *mænon- "moon" (see moon). Its cognates mean only "month" in the Romance languages, but in Gmc. generally continue to do double duty. Phrase a month of Sundays "a very long time" is from 1832 (roughly 7 and a half months, but never used literally).
     

    Tjahzi

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    Heh, in Swedish the names are not identical måne(n) and månad - (the) moon and month. However, I did for some reason know very well that the origin of the month was the time it takes for the moon to rotate around the earth.
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Mongolian:
    сар [sar] - moon, month


    Ossetyan:
    мæй [may] - moon, month

    Tajik:
    моҳ [moh'] - moon, month



    Mordovian:
    kov - moon, month (cf. Finnish and Hungarian)



    Yakutian:
    ый [yi] - moon, month

    Chuvashian
    уйӑх [uyah] - moon, month


    Chechen
    бут [but] - moon, month


    Georgean (not sure but think they are congnates)
    მთვარე [mtvare] - moon
    თვე [tve] - month
     

    J.F. de TROYES

    Senior Member
    francais-France
    Welshie gives the reason why so various languages use the same noun for moon and month . It's the same in Burmese : လ la' , mwezi in Swahili, killa in Quechua , and these languages belong to unrelated families. In Arabic the usual words are different قمر (qamar ) and شهر (shahr), but this last word also refers to the new moon and is even used for honey moon !
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I looked in etymonline and that said that the English word month is related to (derived from?) the word for moon, I didn't know that! Interesting.
    Really? I am bewildered. I always regarded it as an absolute matter of course the word month meant cycle of the moon. Are the words moon and month in English so far apart that people don't connect them? I would never have guessed that. In my language at least, the connection between Mond and Monat is completely obvious.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Really? I am bewildered. I always regarded it as an absolute matter of course the word month meant cycle of the moon. Are the words moon and month in English so far apart that people don't connect them? In my language at least, the connection between Mond and Monat is completely obvious.
    I don't believe they would.
    Compared to a lot of people (that aren't interested in interrelationships between languages or linguistics in general like I am), I think I have a sharper eye to make connections like this, but I wouldn't have thought of that in a million years.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I don't believe they would.
    Compared to a lot of people (that aren't interested in interrelationships between languages or linguistics in general like I am), I think I have a sharper eye to make connections like this, but I wouldn't have thought of that in a million years.
    Thank you Alex. What breaks the connection in English. Is is the long vs. short "o"? Is then also the connection between Monday and Moon not obvious to an English speaker?
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Thank you Alex. What breaks the connection in English. Is is the long vs. short "o"? Is then also the connection between Monday and Moon not obvious to an English speaker?
    We're all taught about Monday being from Moon-day, so for those who remember then it's still obvious, but I imagine a lot of people don't remember little facts like this. If it makes an impression it sticks in your mind, which is what happened to me when I heard about it, reason being because it was so obvious once someone tells you (i.e. beforehand connection is not intuitive).

    About why it's not the same, it could be due to the distinction in the sounds, but we've also got lots and lots of similar words that look similar to these. The ones that come to mind right now are:

    moon mood moan month moth mouth math

    So I think if you're used to a lot of words having a different significance and are different by such a small change in the letters/sounds then similarities are often lost because otherwise you'd assume there were connections between similar words but with different letters, like in the list above. If however these two words were fairly distinct in the language, like maybe stramkoon and stramkoth or something like that then there is less of a phonological load on the diverging phonemes so then it becomes impossible to not see a connection, like with symptathy and sympathise.

    But that same situation could be the same in German, and you are aware of it and see it as intuitive. The question would then be what is the situation for non-language trained people to see if the connection is obvious. It'd be interesting to see if it's the case.
     

    Montesacro

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    The question would then be what is the situation for non-language trained people to see if the connection is obvious. It'd be interesting to see if it's the case.
    I, as a non-native speaker, would never have thought of a connection between moon and month.
    I mean, I don't consider it obvious, certainly because in my native languages the words for moon and month are not related (though, to be fair, luna can be rhetorically used as a countable noun to mean "month").
     

    TitTornade

    Senior Member
    Many calendars are lunar - based on the time it takes the moon to complete one rotation of the earth: 28 days (roughly).
    Hi,
    To be more precise, the duration between two full moons is around 29 1/2 days : this corresponds to a lunar month, i.e. moon's synodic period.
    This duration is used for months in the purely lunar calendars as the Islamic calendar or in the luni-solar calendars, as the Hebrew calendar.
    The gregorian calendar is not really lunar, but a solar calendar; but it keeps the approximate duration of the lunar revolution to define the months !

    Else, the moon makes a revolution (not exactly a rotation...) around the Earth in 27 1/3 days (this is moon's sideral period).

    If many languages connect "moon" and "month", it is not the case in French (Moon = Lune and month = mois). Why ?
    But in litterature, we can use "lune" as a synonym of "mois" !
     

    rayloom

    Senior Member
    Arabic (Hijazi Arabic)
    Welshie gives the reason why so various languages use the same noun for moon and month . It's the same in Burmese : လ la' , mwezi in Swahili, killa in Quechua , and these languages belong to unrelated families. In Arabic the usual words are different قمر (qamar ) and شهر (shahr), but this last word also refers to the new moon and is even used for honey moon !
    Actually in Arabic, shahr (month) also means moon.

    From Lisan al-3arab (a dictionary):
    والشَّهْرُ القَمَر
    al-shahr is the moon

    Also from مقاييس اللغة (another dictionary).
    الشَّهر، وهو في كلام العرب الهِلال
    al-shahr, in the language of the Arabs, is the crescent (moon)

    In Hebrew, the cognate סהר is also a word for the moon.

    And in some other ancient Semitic languages, the word used to mean month and moon was the same. (OSA wrkh, Ugaritic yrkh).
    Not sure if Hebrew cognate ירח was used to mean month as well.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Or possibly the other way round:
    According to the list you quoted, French mois (< Latin mensis) as well as English Moon and month contain the PIE base *me- = to measure while French lune (< Latin luna) contains the base *lewk-/*leuk- = light, bright, to shine.

    Not sure if Hebrew cognate ירח was used to mean month as well.
    According to Morfix in literary Hebrew: yes. The normal word for month is חֹדֶשׁ (khodesh; modern pronunciation) from חָדָשׁ (khadash) = new. In the Hebrew calendar (as in the Islamic one) the month starts with new Moon.
     
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    origumi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Actually in Arabic, shahr (month) also means moon.

    Not sure if Hebrew cognate ירח was used to mean month as well.
    In Hebrew sahar סהר (cognate of Arabic shahr) is the moon, literally meaning "an object of crescent shape", but is not related to month. The more common word for moon is yareakh. Month is khodesh, literally meaning "new" or "renew", to describe the month days counting that starts with the new moon, or the moon behavior that renews itself every month. There's a less common word for month yerakh.

    Therefore, like in many languages listed above, originally Hebrew had the same word for moon and month, of root y-r-kh (which may have been earlier w-r-kh). However, one of the words kept developing with the language, while the other remained frozen (or developed in a different speed/direction), so today (that is, the last 3000 years) we have yareakh vs. yerakh = moon vs. month, both are spelled ירח.

    To prove that yareakh and yerakh come from the same point - there's a place near the Lake of Galilee where the moon was worshiped in pagan times. It's called beit yerakh = "house of the moon". In this name, the word yerakh clearly refers to the moon while sounds like the word for month.
     
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    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Welshie gives the reason why so various languages use the same noun for moon and month . It's the same in Burmese : လ la' , mwezi in Swahili, killa in Quechua , and these languages belong to unrelated families. In Arabic the usual words are different قمر (qamar ) and شهر (shahr), but this last word also refers to the new moon and is even used for honey moon !
    It is indeed odd that the Arabic words for moon and month are etymologically unconnected seeing that the moon plays so important a part in Islam and its lunar calendar. However, هِلَال (hilaal) not shahr is the word used in Modern Standard Arabic for the new moon, as well known a term now as kosher to most Europeans, and بَدْر (badr) is the full moon. As for honeymoon, that is not just shahr but شَهْرُ العَسَل , شَهْرُ عَسَل
    (shahr 3asl/shahr al3asl), literally month of (the) honey.
    Odd too, that one earlier poster had never noticed the similarity of moon and month. though he must have seen a B western in which an "indian" chief proclaimed to the hero in the white hat "You return two moons".
    The Latin luna (moon) is also unconnected with mensis (month), which latter gives us the word menstruation, connected in some mysterious way with the lunar cycle.
    However, I can point out that in Cinyanja, another Bantu language, mwezi, the same word as in Swahili, also serves for both month and moon, and in Afrikaans, maan (moon) and maand (month) have the same derivation.
     
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    rayloom

    Senior Member
    Arabic (Hijazi Arabic)
    It is indeed odd that the Arabic words for moon and month are etymologically unconnected seeing that the moon plays so important a part in Islam and its lunar calendar. However, هِلَال (hilaal) not shahr is the word used in Modern Standard Arabic for the new moon, as well known a term now as kosher to most Europeans, and بَدْر (badr) is the full moon. As for honeymoon, that is not just shahr but شَهْرُ العَسَل , شَهْرُ عَسَل
    (shahr 3asl/shahr al3asl), literally month of (the) honey.
    Not completely odd I believe.
    Words develop and acquire new meanings.

    Qamar probably began and continued to be used for the physical heavenly body, the moon. While, shahr, started off by referring to the crescent, the new moon/month, and continued to be used to refer to the month, while it's original meaning remains only to be found in old literature and the dictionaries.

    And in the context of referring to months, Hilaal, lit. crescent, nowadays is barely used outside the context of Hilaal Ramadan, the crescent of Ramadan, signifying the start of the holy month. (also used for hilaal shawwaal, the month after Ramadan, signifying the end of the month).

    While on the other hand, other words have completely withered away. Wrkh, discussed before, was used in Epigraphic North Arabian to mean month, along with shahr. Shahr survives to this very day as the word for month in Classical Arabic, MSA and the dialects. While wrkh only survives as a root meaning 'to date', and in other derived words.
     

    artion

    Senior Member
    Greek
    The Latin luna (moon) is also unconnected with mensis (month), which latter gives us the word menstruation, connected in some mysterious way with the lunar cycle.
    What is mysterious? The duration of the menstrual cycle approximates that of the lunar month. I won't mention the magic-mythic relations between woman and moon as they will characterise it "off topic". However, I will dare to inform you that the vulgar Gr. word for vulva is muni (the Gr. for month is μην).
     

    Walshie79

    Member
    English (British)
    We're all taught about Monday being from Moon-day, so for those who remember then it's still obvious, but I imagine a lot of people don't remember little facts like this. If it makes an impression it sticks in your mind, which is what happened to me when I heard about it, reason being because it was so obvious once someone tells you (i.e. beforehand connection is not intuitive).

    About why it's not the same, it could be due to the distinction in the sounds, but we've also got lots and lots of similar words that look similar to these. The ones that come to mind right now are:

    moon mood moan month moth mouth math

    So I think if you're used to a lot of words having a different significance and are different by such a small change in the letters/sounds then similarities are often lost because otherwise you'd assume there were connections between similar words but with different letters, like in the list above. If however these two words were fairly distinct in the language, like maybe stramkoon and stramkoth or something like that then there is less of a phonological load on the diverging phonemes so then it becomes impossible to not see a connection, like with symptathy and sympathise.

    But that same situation could be the same in German, and you are aware of it and see it as intuitive. The question would then be what is the situation for non-language trained people to see if the connection is obvious. It'd be interesting to see if it's the case.
    Even the phrase "many moons ago" doesn't twig the connection for people in general. I think with "Monday" there's also the fact that it comes after "Sunday"; if a year was called a "sunth" the connection between "month" and "moon" would be much clearer!

    Do French people see the connection between "lundi" and "lune" without being told about it? Like "month" and "moon" they have different vowel sounds, and the French for Sunday isn't derived from the word for "sun".
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    But that same situation could be the same in German, and you are aware of it and see it as intuitive. The question would then be what is the situation for non-language trained people to see if the connection is obvious. It'd be interesting to see if it's the case.
    I am quite sure it is not my personal background but shared intuition by most German speakers. Maybe the connection is stronger because
    Mon-d (moon)
    Mon-at (month)
    Mon-tag (Monday)

    all contain Mon- which is not only spelled but also pronounced the same [mo:n-] in all three words.
     

    Kangy

    Senior Member
    Argentina [Spanish]
    There's no such direct relationship between moon and month in Spanish.

    moon = luna
    month = mes

    The closest relationship I can track without racking my brains too much is the origin of mes (month) from Greek:

    Add Greek in your list too:
    Month is «μήν» (mēn m.), «μήνας» ('minas m. in Modern Greek), from archaic «μήνη» ('mēnē f.), the moon, from PIE root *mḗh₁n̥s, moon, month
    You might not know that Spanish originated from Latin, which in turn had received enormous influence from Greek.
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    It is interesting the word for 'moon' and 'month' in so many languages is derived from the same source (although it makes makes sense as the regular cycle of the moon is a natural division of time).

    That said, it appears, however, that in some cases the ultimate reasoning behind this naming has varied within certain cultures.

    As far as PIE based languages the words for moon are from "*me(n)ses- "moon, month...probably from base *me- "to measure," in ref. to the moon's phases as the measure of time." (From the entry for 'moon' at Etymonline.com).

    In Arabic, شهر (shahr) does not have to do with measurement, per se. It comes from the root ش-ه-ر (sh-h-r) which has to do with "making apparent." so the moon, or rather new moon, is so termed because it becomes apparent at the beginning of each lunar cycle (thus indicating the beginning of the new month).

    Likewise, the word القمر (al-qamar) the most common word for 'moon' nowadays, is also not related to a measurement of time. Rather al-qamar was so termed due to its color أقمر (aqmar) -- white, inclining towards green (perhaps with some dark spots in it).

    In sum, the PIE based word seem to have come about due to the natural measurement of time that the moon represented to these ancient people(s). To the ancient Arabs, on the other hand, it appears that the naming of the moon came about due to some physical characteristic thereof.

    In terms of measurement, qamar (named for the physical color of the moon) has no obvious relation. With shahr, however, there is a connection -- the physical appearance of the moon at the beginning of each new lunar cycle represented a regular interval of time. Thus shahr ended up becoming the Arabic word for month, whereas qamar did not.

    Also interesting is that the verb قَمِرَ (qamira)(which comes from the same root as qamar, q-m-r) means "to become (temporarily) blinded or dazzled by the light of the moon" and also "to become snowblind." In fact one of the meanings of قمر (qamar) is 'snowblindness' or 'moonblindness'. This verb and its verbal noun and not really used nowadays (as far as I can tell).

    On a side note, there is an English language novel entitled "The Snowblind Moon." Considering that both the words for 'snowblind' and 'moon' come from the same Arabic root, I thought it mildly amusing to consider what an Arabic translation of that title would look like. In fact I mused over that many moons ago in this thread here.
     
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    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    The mathematical term mensuration which used to make naughty little schoolboys giggle in class, bears out the connection between the cycle of the moon and measuring.
    The verb yashhur (to be famous) and adjective shahiir (famous) with the connotation of being obvious, well known, help one to understand shahr: what in the night sky is more obvious or prominent than the moon?
    However, aqmar (a less frequent word for white), it seems logical to me, must take its meaning from qamar (moon/satellite) especially since the former is in the comparative form, not vice versa.
    But, it is not easy to find some connection with the verb qamara (to gamble) from the same root, unless the idea linking the two is that the game goes round the circle of players. (Gambling is, of course, banned in Islam).
     

    Meyer Wolfsheim

    Senior Member
    English
    I am quite sure it is not my personal background but shared intuition by most German speakers. Maybe the connection is stronger because
    Mon-d (moon)
    Mon-at (month)
    Mon-tag (Monday)
    all contain Mon- which is not only spelled but also pronounced the same [mo:n-] in all three words.
    I am quite certain most English speakers (the set of which does not include those trained in any linguistics or related fields) will not realize or believe there is a connection between "Monday," "month," and "moon." A native speaker might discover a possible connection between "Monday" and "moon" via analogy with "Sunday" and "sun" where something looks a bit curious.

    However if one simply asks a speaker (at least a "clever" one) directly if a connection exists, especially if written on paper, I am sure the speaker will claim something but before that moment I doubt most English speakers make themselves consciously aware of any connection because the connection itself is historical and the vowel changed in moon (muwn) versus (m^ndej) or (m^n<th>).

    What your statement on a German speaker's intuition with the German counteparts reveals that the German might be more historically preservering in that area.

    I remember being taught the connection between "moon" and "month" in a 6th grade science class where I learned about the phases of the moon and my teacher remarked that "month" used to be pronounced "mun<th>"
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hello!
    I noticed that in many languages the words for "month" and "moon" are very similar or just the same? Any ideas why?

    Indonesian: bulan - bulan
    Belorussian: месяц - месяц
    Chinese: 月亮 - 月
    Croatian: mjesec - mjesec
    Czech: měsíc - měsíc
    Danish: måne - måned
    Estonian: Kuu - kuu
    Filipino: buwan - buwan
    Turkish: Ay - ay

    and many others...
    I thought that being a Polish speaker you should be familiar with the word 'miesiąc' meaning 'moon'. Used in educated speech well into the XIX century, and in dialects even today. It coexisted with 'księżyc' in many centuries.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Thank you Alex. What breaks the connection in English. Is is the long vs. short "o"? Is then also the connection between Monday and Moon not obvious to an English speaker?

    I don't think it is the connection that is missing. It is the fact that probably the wast majority of native English speakers aren't used to learn foreign languages, and thus not used to compare words, or think of their origins, the was the average European would.

    I find the connection pretty obvious especialls when you compare the the words of a few of the other Germanic languages like Danish and English

    maane (moon), maaned (month). Obviously are closely connected. Maaned and month also - OK, one has the soft d/th sound at the end the other the one where you let a bit of air flow between the tongue and the front teeth. But that is not an extreme difference.

    (the "aa" is a generally acceptet substitute for the a with a little circle on top of it - I don't have that on this keyboard/dont'remember the alt-code for it. The pronounication is somewhere between an "a" an an "o")
     

    Aydintashar

    Senior Member
    Iran, Turkish
    Welshie gives the reason why so various languages use the same noun for moon and month . It's the same in Burmese : လ la' , mwezi in Swahili, killa in Quechua , and these languages belong to unrelated families. In Arabic the usual words are different قمر (qamar ) and شهر (shahr), but this last word also refers to the new moon and is even used for honey moon !
    It is important to note that the expression "honey moon" in English should have been actually "honey month". This confusion indicates that the two concepts of "moon" and "month" had always overlapped. Since the majority of languages use similar or same words for the two concepts, it should have resulted from the strong influence of lunar calendar since ancient times.
    an analogous situation exists in Turkish, in which the same word (gün) represents both "day" and "sun".
    However, the overlapping of the two concepts in Arabic is only trivial. In reality, the moon (القمر) and month (الشهر) are obviously two different concepts in Arabic.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    ... the expression "honey moon" in English should have been actually "honey month"...
    Yes, it's a period of time and not the Moon itself. For example, in Hungarian we have "honey weeks" (mézes hetek) and not "honey moon" (the number of weeks is individual ... :))

    ... an analogous situation exists in Turkish, in which the same word (gün) represents both "day" and "sun"...
    The same in Hungarian: nap (sun, day)
     

    Melaike

    Member
    Turkish
    What is mysterious? The duration of the menstrual cycle approximates that of the lunar month. I won't mention the magic-mythic relations between woman and moon as they will characterise it "off topic". However, I will dare to inform you that the vulgar Gr. word for vulva is muni (the Gr. for month is μην).
    The connection is very obvious in Turkish. Menstruation=Aybaşı(Ay+başı) means beginning/first day of the month/moon)
     

    ancalimon

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    The connection is very obvious in Turkish. Menstruation=Aybaşı(Ay+başı) means beginning/first day of the month/moon)
    I think that could be also related to BAŞ: sore, injury

    (From Compendium of Turkic Languages) (rough translation): There is no injury except its eyes for a deer which walks straight (without running into danger) [and we know the eyes are not really wounds]

    It could also be related to BAŞAK: virgo, fit for reproduction
     

    Melaike

    Member
    Turkish
    It could also be related to BAŞAK: virgo, fit for reproduction
    Türkish name ''Başak'' for zodiac sign Virgo is the translation of Arabic ''sumbule'' which means the same :Ear of Grain.

    Besides I can't see the connection between Başak and Baş(in Aybaşı).
     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    Latvian:

    mēness: moon
    mēnesis: month

    ---
    -s and -is are nominative singular endings, i.e. the stem is mēnes-
     
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    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Russian uses the word луна/luna (<*lou̯ksneH₂, of the same origin as in Latin) for the celestial body and the (more or less) full moon, but the word месяц/mesyats (<*meH₁s-enkos or *meH₁s-n̥kos, related to mēnsis, μήν, moon) for the month and the partial moon.
     
    What is mysterious? The duration of the menstrual cycle approximates that of the lunar month. I won't mention the magic-mythic relations between woman and moon as they will characterise it "off topic". However, I will dare to inform you that the vulgar Gr. word for vulva is muni (the Gr. for month is μην).
    I'm afraid the two are completely unrelated; although :warning: «μουνί» [muˈni] (neut.) --> c*nt, c*nny still remains a perplexity to etymologists, the possible explanations suggest no relation at all to the moon:
    i) From the Byz. neut. noun «μουνίν» mounín < Classical neut. noun «εὐνίον» euníŏn --> vagina, diminutive of the Classical fem. noun «εὐνὴ» eunḕ --> matrimonial-bed, bedding (possibly from PIE *gʷḗn-, woman cf Av. ūnā, lit. empty place, hole, metaph. (vulg.) the female reproductive organ; Lat. cunnus, (vulg.) the female reproductive organ).
    The mutation of the Classical «αυ-» au-/«ευ-» eu- to the Byzantine and Modern Gr. «μν-» mn- is not uncommon: Classical v. «ἐλαύνω» elaúnō --> to drive, push, forge > aphetic «λάμνω» [ˈlamno]; «εὐνοῦχος» eunoûkʰŏs (masc.) --> eunuch > «μουνούχος» [muˈnuxos].


    ii) From the Classical v. «βῑνέω/βῑνῶ» bīnéō (uncontracted)/bīnô (contracted) --> futuere, to have illicit sex


    iii) From the Classical masc. noun «μνόος/μνοῦς» mnóŏs (uncontracted)/mnoûs (contracted) --> soft down


    (Apologies for the late response and OT, but I feel misconceptions need to be addressed)
     
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