I am working on designing a piece of software that must support multiple languages. There is a design scheme in English at the moment that displays weekdays using a single character (ie: "S M T W T F S"). I know something similar can be done in french. I have two questions:

  1. I need to know if this cannot be done in any of these languages:

    • German
    • Simplified Chinese
    • Traditional Chinese
    • Korean
    • Russian
    • Spanish
    • Polish
    • Italian
    • Swedish
    • Danish
    • Dutch
    • Greek
    • Norwegian
    • Czech
    • Slovenian
    • Portuguese
    • Hungarian
    • Romanian
    • Finnish
    • Slovak
    • Turkish
    • Japanese
  2. I am aware that Japanese and Chinese have 3 character names for the week days which basically tranlate to "Star period 1", "Star period 2" etc. and the characters for "Star period" repeat and then the character for the number changes. My question is could you label a column in a table "Star period" and put the character numbers as values in the different rows? Would chinese/japanese people understand this design scheme? Or do all three characters need to be together all the time?

  • 2
    Note that, in many countries and according to ISO, each week begins on a Monday.
    – user10188
    Mar 27, 2016 at 11:33
  • I'm sure most languages have a custom, but it's definitely not predictable. In English we often use R or H for Thursday (especially in five day contexts) and I've even seen U once or twice for Sunday. Spanish users LMXJVSD with an inexplicable X for Wednesday (miércoles). Portuguese uses a mix of numbers and letters 23456SD. Some of this information may be in the ICU libraries. Mar 27, 2016 at 16:00
  • FYI you'll want to re-research the Japanese system, which (contrary to your assertion) is totally different from the Chinese system. Mar 27, 2016 at 18:03
  • 1
    It would be MDMDFSS in German and whenever I see it (or abbreviation with 3 instead of the standard 2 letters), I suspect clueless or careless localization. This is more of a UX view than a linguistic one, though.
    – Crissov
    Mar 27, 2016 at 22:06
  • 1
    Contra @guifa, I have never encountered 'R' or 'H' for Thursday.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 16, 2016 at 18:36

4 Answers 4


Chinese and Japanese:


In Chinese, Monday to Saturday are from 星期一 to 星期六, which basically just mean "weekday 1" to "weekday 6".

Sunday is an exception, being called "星期天" or "星期日", which mean "weekday (of the) heaven" or "weekday (of the) sun" respectively.

In calendars, they are abbreviated as 日一二三四五六 (sun, one, two, three, four, five, six) for Sunday to Saturday.


In Japanese, each weekday is assigned one heavenly body (there are seven: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn). They translate respectively to 日月火水木金土 (abbreviated forms). The full forms are made by adding the abbreviated form and 曜日. For example, the full form of sunday would be 日曜日.

Extra information:

星期 literally means "star period", as the OP suggested.

日月火水木金土 literally translate to sun, moon, fire, water, wood, gold, earth.

Mars is the "star" of fire; Mercury is the "star" of water; Jupiter is the "star" of wood; Venus is the "star" of gold; Saturn is the "star" of earth.

Also, the English names also derived from the same origin, using the gods governing those planets instead. Sunday = sun + day; Monday = moon + day; Tuesday = Tyr's day, where Tyr is the germanic equivalent of the Roman god Mars.


This is implemented using language files. To support a new language, you won't need to update your code, just add a new language file.

For example, The DHTML Calendar has a set of language files already available, published under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License.

For example, Calendar._SDN has the following values:

  • Chinese: new Array ("日", "一", "二", "三", "四", "五", "六", "日");

  • Korean: new Array ("일", "월", "화", "수", "목", "금", "토", "일");

  • Spanish: new Array ("Dom", "Lun", "Mar", "Mié", "Jue", "Vie", "Sáb", "Dom");

    • If you absolutely need one character, you may use D L M X J V S.

So I was trying to implement a scheme like what's in the Android Clock app when choosing which days to fire an alarm off. I when through all the languages in Android and confirmed that it was possible. Basically, every one of those language has a single character scheme except for Hungarian (Magyar) which has the following scheme:

V H K Sz Cs P Sz

But it still fits inside the circles so design wise it didn't break anything.

Here's a screenshot of the app:

Android Clock schedule

  • 1
    No, the Hungarian abbreviations conform to the pattern: 'Sz' and 'cs' are single letters in the Hungarian alphabet
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 16, 2016 at 18:35
  • @ColinFine I said single character, not letter. Sz and Cs are clearly 2 characters.
    – ReX357
    Apr 19, 2016 at 19:29
  • 2
    it is not clear that they are two characters in Hungarian. Unicode hasn't so far designated codes for them, but it has designated codes for the Dutch letter IJ, the Croatian letter Dz, and the Slovenian letters Lj and Nj. It may be that Hungarians regard them as two characters, or it may be that they regard them as single characters which the IT world gets wrong.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 19, 2016 at 19:59
  • @ColinFine Since I describe clearly in my first sentence that this is to be an IT question and I used the proper description and terminology for what I was asking and your last comment further corroborates the fact that it is indeed multiple characters according to current Unicode standards, I would appreciate it if you would remove the down votes, assuming you're the person who down voted my question and answer. Thank you.
    – ReX357
    Apr 19, 2016 at 20:20
  • 1
    And my comment is intended to caution against assuming that English-based assumptions apply when you are trying to support multiple languages.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 19, 2016 at 20:27

Brazilian Portuguese:
In Brazil it's common to write and pronounce the ones with -feira without it, so it is commonly segunda, terça, quarta and so on.
I don't know about how it works in other portuguese-speaking-countries, but in Portugal I'm sure is basically the same thing. The order can change, with Segunda-feira being the first or second day, and Domingo being the first or last day, it's somewhat controversial.

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