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French version: J'ai cherché l'étymologie du mot "aujourd'hui" et j'ai découvert qu'il vient de la construction

au +‎ jour +‎ de +‎ hui

Cela veut dire “au jour d'hui”, parce que hui vient du Latin hoc + dies. J'ai lu (mais je ne suis pas sûr de ça) qu'avant d'utiliser "aujourd'hui" les Français utilisaient "hui".

Mes questions sont :

  1. Est-il vrai qu'ils utilisaient "hui" ?
  2. Si c'est vrai, quelles en sont les raisons historiques ou sociales ?

English version: I've looked for the etymology of "aujourd'hui", and I found out that it comes from the construction:

au +‎ jour +‎ de +‎ hui

It means “on the day of today”; since hui comes from Latin hoc + dies. I read (but I'm not sure about this) that before they used "auhourd'hui", French people used "hui".

My questions are:

  1. Is it true?
  2. If so, what are the historical or the social reasons?
  • 3
    J'utilise « hui » de temps à autres dans mes communications écrites. Il n'est pas garanti que mon lecteur comprenne, mais c'est un mot que j'aime bien… Certains aussi disent « au jour d'aujourd'hui, » ce qui contient trois fois la même information ! – Axioplase Aug 30 '11 at 0:48
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Oui, c'est tout à fait vrai. Au début du XIVe siècle, par exemple, au jour d'ui signifie « le jour où l'on est ». Puis ui est devenu hui et aujourd'hui est devenu un mot (après un passage par aujourdui à la fin du XIVe siècle).

Ceci est expliqué avec plus de détails ici (voir section "ÉTYMOL. ET HIST." en fin de page).

  • 3
    Passe par cnrtl.fr, plutôt que par atilf.atilf.fr, les liens sont plus stables. – Un francophone Aug 29 '11 at 15:45
  • Ah, merci ! Je ne connaissais pas cet accès. Il s'agit bien du même contenu? – Shlublu Aug 29 '11 at 15:53
  • 3
    Exact. Expliqué aussi ici: youtube.com/watch?v=rdcf981oiYU :) – LudoMC Aug 29 '11 at 17:09
  • @LudoMC: Donc, l'explication est que "hui" était trés "faible"? J'avais lu cette chose, mais dans un forum, donc je n'était pas sûr. :) – Alenanno Aug 30 '11 at 0:30
  • 1
    @Shlublu: Merci pour l'indication, je n'avais pas vu cette section. :D – Alenanno Aug 30 '11 at 9:06
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This is expounded in R.L. Trask, Robert McColl Millar's Why Do Languages Change? (2010 Rev. ed). p. 24 Bottom

  In early Latin, ‘today’ was expressed by the phrase *hoc die, literally ‘on this day’, where the asterisk shows that this form is not recorded but has been

p. 25

reconstructed by linguists. By the time of Classical Latin, this phrase had coalesced into a single word, hodie, with the loss of one consonant in the process.
  By the time of the first Roman emperor, no Latin speaker was pronouncing aitches any more. Hodie was now being pronounced odie, even though educated people kept on writing the aitches because of the prestige of earlier writers.
  In Paris, there were further changes in pronunciation, and in particular more sounds were lost. In hodie, the sound /d/ disappeared, and after a while speakers of the Parisian variety of Latin, which was beginning to be called ‘French’, were writing their word for ‘today’ as hui, though that was only an act of obeisance to the ‘mother’ language, and what people were really saying could have been written ui.
  It appears that speakers of French were getting a little uncomfortable uttering such a small noise to say ‘today’. So, they responded by creating a more substantial way of expressing that concept. What they came up with was the orotund phrase au jour d’hui, which is literally ‘on the day of today’. This certainly solved the problem, and people began using this heavy expression more and more often, until finally nobody was saying just plain hui any more at all. Today the only possible way of saying ‘today’ in French is aujourd’hui, which is now written as a single word, and the former hui is dead and buried. Almost inevitably, this word can be reduced to something like dwee in colloquial speech.
  Very likely you know somebody who is constitutionally incapable of uttering the little English word now and who replaces it on every occasion with the mouth-filling sequence at this moment in time. So far, this remains a pompous piece of bureaucrat-speak, inveighed against by usage handbooks everywhere, but there is no guarantee that it will not one day displace its shorter equivalent altogether, much as has happened in French.

  • 1
    It seems to me that the motivation for the use of "at this moment in time" is not so much to be sought in a concern which undertones have to do with pomposity as a concern with a real need for precision, a must in administrative practices; one should not forget, for instance, that in English the time specified by "now" can be situated in the past; let's not forget, now (?), that the word might even have nothing to do with time. – LPH Aug 22 '18 at 10:22

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