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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Roundabout O'Clock

Telling time in German can get a bit silly

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If you want to practice that wacky German time-telling, try italki. They connect you with trained teachers through Skype, and speaking is the best way to learn fast!

30 comments:

  1. Five past halfway to six? What is it? 5:35?

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    1. Yes, precisely! "Fünf nach halb sechs" = 5.35.

      Similarly in Danish: "fem minutter over halv seks" (five minutes over half six, as it were).

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  2. :DDD Yes, this is us!

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  3. As a Dutch learner, it's the same in Dutch. Silly west Germanic languages.

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    1. it's the same in Czech, Slovak and Polish and maybe other Slavic languages (but I don't know any other)... that must mean it IS the superior and more efficient way! :D

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    2. You know English is a West Germanic language, right?

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  4. That wacky "three-quarters eight" is also found in the north-east (e.g. Berlin).

    I can kind of handle that by mentally translating to my accustomed "quarter before eight", but "quarter four" = 3:15 always makes me have to think for a while. Wacky dialect speakers! That should be "quarter after three", of course.

    Another difference is which auxiliary verb to use: the south + Austria uses "to be" more than the north does, so while both agree that it's "ich bin aufgestanden" (I got up), the north says "ich habe gestanden" (I have stood) while the south says "ich bin gestanden, ich bin gesessen, etc.", which sounds odd to me. Though with some it's variable for me, e.g. "ich bin geschwommen, ich habe geschwommen".

    On the other hand, that enables southerners to distinguish between "ich bin gestanden" (I stood; from "stehen") and "ich habe gestanden" (I confessed; from "gestehen"); in the north, "ich habe gestanden" has to do double duty for both.

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    1. Man. Just when I think my German's getting better, so many kleine Feinigkeiten...

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    2. Just look at the bright side: You are now making the more important errors ^^

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    3. I spend all that time in German class memorizing past participles and helping verbs just for an actual German speaker to tell me it's variable!? Aargh... D:

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    4. Philip Newton, I'm from Northern Germany too.
      Gramatically you are right when you say, that ""ich bin gestanden" (I stood; from "stehen") and "ich habe gestanden" (I confessed; from "gestehen"); in the north, "ich habe gestanden" has to do double duty for both."
      However, I never heard anybody say the sentence "Ich habe gestanden" in the meaning of somebody stood somewhere. We would just use the Präteritum, like the simple past in English.
      I stood/, Ich stand.
      And sometimes the "be" form just does not make sense.
      I am beautiful. I am ...years old. I am small. I am happy. I am a swimmer.
      Ich bin schön, Ich bin...Jahre alt, I bin klein, Ich bin glücklich, Ich bin ein Schwimmer.
      That makes sense. And then: Ich bin gesessen. You are what??? I am sat. You are sat? You are sat down? I am sat down.
      To be/sein, should describe a personality or character trade, something you measurably are, something you have become maybe.

      So sometimes this more "southern" forms of the usage of "sein" when they should use "haben", are not logical to me.

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    5. You can't explain auxiliary verbs in terms of logic. "to have" means to possess something, but then what does it mean if you say "I have seen him": "I possess the seeing of him"? That makes no sense.

      And "werden" means "to become" (Ich werde krank, mein Sohn wird morgen 7), so what does "Ich werde morgen singen" mean - I will turn into singing?

      It's just convention.

      Just like "Ich bin gestern zu spät zur Arbeit gekommen", even though coming too late to work that day is neither a personality nor a character trait.

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    6. @anonymous: verbs of movement always use "sein" as an axiliary verb: "Ich bin gegangen" means "I have walked", not "I am walked". Southern German includes some verbs of non-movement like stehen, sitzen, bleiben (do notherners say "ich haben geblieben? - I think not) in this rule. Other verbs slightly change their meaning when using different auxiliary verbs: "Ich bin gefahren" is used as normal past tense while "ich habe gefahren" is used if you add an accussative object, like "Ich habe den Laster gefahren" or "Ich habe meinen Onkel nach Hause gefahren".

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    7. When I was at school I and my friends got into trouble, because while on a trip with a new teacher rom Upper Bavaria, we believed her announcment that the class will meet at "Threequarters 1", mant that we would meet at 2.45, not 1.45, so we were late by almost an hour

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  5. I think the Thai system of telling the time is the most difficult. :O I still can't remember all of them. :(

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    1. So we need to combine the Thai system of telling the time with Hindi numerals.

      Having to memorise 100 different words in order to count from 1 to 100 is insane. (There are patterns, but it's not completely regular - knowing the words for "fifty", "sixty", "seven", and "fifty-seven", you still can't predict how to say "sixty-seven".)

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    2. What is the Thai system for telling time? I'm curious now.

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    3. Thai uses a 6 hour clock instead of our 12 hour clock, so they divide 24 hours into 4 pieces (1-6, 7-12, 13-18, 19-24) similar to the English a.m. and p.m. I don't know why that should be 'most difficult', it's just different.

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    4. Philip - that is insane :O
      Bakunin - 5 pieces, actually. And by 'most difficult', I mean it's the most different way of telling the time; I have never encountered any other languages which use the same system or system as complex as the Thai language, or even perhaps more complex. If there is one, please let me know. :D
      From 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., you add the word ตี(dtee) in front of the number, so it becomes ตีหนึ่ง (dtee neung), which is one a.m. หนึ่ง (neung) = one
      From 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., you add the word โมงเช้า(mong chao) behind the number, so it becomes หกโมงเช้า (hok mong chao), which is six a.m. หก (hok) = six
      12 p.m. = เที่ยง
      From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., you put the number in between บ่ายโมง(baai mong), so it becomes บ่ายสองโมง (baai saawng mong), which is two p.m. สอง (saawng) = two
      From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., you add the word โมงเย็น(mong yen) behind the number, so it becomes ห้าโมงเย็น (haa mong yen), which is five p.m. ห้า (haa) = five
      From 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., you add the word ทุ่ม(thoom) behind the number, but 7 p.m. is หนึ่งทุ่ม (neung thoom), and หนึ่ง means one, so basically 7 p.m. is the first thoom, 8 p.m. the second, 9 p.m. the third, 10 p.m. the fourth and 11 p.m. the fifth.
      And lastly, 12 a.m. = เที่ยงคืน.

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  6. Nice, as always. In regards to your last panel: Nobody seems to get this, but it is actually the most logical way to tell time if you agree that 'halb acht' is the usual way to say 07:30. Think like 07:00 + 'one hour half full'.

    Then it is logical that 'viertel acht' is 07:00 + 'one hour a quarter full', 'dreiviertel acht' is 07:00 + 'one hour three quarters full'.

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    1. Yes, it is logical. Just not what I'm used to in the north :)

      viertel sechs, halb sechs, dreiviertel sechs. Completely logical in itself.

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  7. Because 4 syllables are so long... The problem comes from the translation, not the inherent shortness of the german behind it.

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  8. If you're into that kind of stuff check out www.atlas-alltagssprache.de !

    They have maps that show where which kind of time is used ("dreiviertel ..." has quite an unusual distribution, neither north/south nor east/west) or where people say "bin/habe gestanden" and a lot of other cool stuff that I, as a native speaker, would never have guessed ... :)

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    1. Oooh... thanks for the recommendation!

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  9. Arabic: khamesa wa khamesa-wa-thalatheen (five and five-and-thirty. "wa" means "and" and the first one is added to separate the hours from the minutes and the second, between the ones and tens.)

    Urdu: paanch pachpan (paanch is five and pachpan is thirty-five)

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