I was doing some SQL Server work the other day and I got to thinking about how we number the weekdays. In the culture where I grew up, Sunday was considered the first day of the week. But in many Asian cultures, Monday is considered the first day of the week. And the names of days in Mandarin reflect that just.
星期 (Xīngqí) means "week" – literally "star period"
And logical as ever, the Chinese then name the days in relation to that:
星期一 (Xīngqí yī) is Monday (i.e. Day # )
星期二 (Xīngqí'èr) is Tuesday (ie. Day #2)
星期三 (Xīngqísān) is Wednesday
星期四 (Xīngqísì) is Thursday
星期五 (Xīngqíwǔ) is Friday
星期六 (Xīngqíliù) is Saturday
Sunday is where it changes a bit:
星期日 (Xīngqírì) is a common version of Sunday. The last character means "day". And similarly:
星期天 (Xīngqítiān) also means Sunday. The last character again means "day", but can also relate to concepts like heaven.
There is also another way that these same names can be written.
周 (Zhōu) also means week, and can also be used to name days:
周一 (Zhōuyī) being a shorter way to say Monday.
It's also commonly used another way:
周末 (Zhōumò) means weekend. And no surprise that the second character means "end".
I'll write more soon on the best methods for learning Mandarin. If you want to get a taste for it in the meantime though, my current favorite site is iTalki, and my favorite teacher by far is Amy He. If you decide to try it, click here and it's cheaper for both you and me.