Clocks Across the World: How Different Languages Inform Time


Once we begin studying a language, we quickly discover ourselves working towards find out how to ask for the time. This may really feel like a pointless train at present, when every look at our telephone tells us the hour and minute with precision, however it may be justified as a sensible means of getting the language’s numbers down in a well-known context. But not each tradition’s means of time-telling is equally acquainted: in Tanzania, for instance, so close to the equator that “the solar rises across the identical time each morning, six within the native time zone,” and “everybody’s up and beginning their day at seven. With such a dependable customary time-keeper, that winds up being 1:00 Swahili time.”

“Swahili time” is simply one of many ideas launched by Youtuber Joshua Rudder, creator of the channel Nativlang, in the video above.

He additionally touches on the medieval six-hour clocks of Italy; the Thai time-tellers who “depend the hours from one to 6, 4 instances a day”; the traditional Egyptian technique of letting the size of hours themselves increase and contract with the quantity of daylight; the Nahua division of dividing the “daylight day” into 4 components and the night time into seven; the bewilderingly many Hindustani items of time, from the aayan, ruthu, and masa to the lava, renu, and truti, by which level you get all the way down to “divisions of microseconds.”

To a natively English-speaking Westerner, few of those methods might really feel notably intuitive. However most of us, from whichever tradition we might hail, will see a sure sense within the Japanese means of permitting late nights to “stretch to 25 o’clock, twenty-nine o’clock, all the way in which as much as thirty. Perhaps you are feeling like in case you’re up previous midnight, it’s not tomorrow but, probably not, and also you haven’t even gone to mattress.” Therefore this prolonged clock, whose final six hours “overlap with what could have been the technical begin of your twenty-four hour day once you get up tomorrow” — however, with a bit of luck, don’t overlap onto any early-morning language lessons.

Associated content material:

How Clocks Modified Humanity Ceaselessly, Making Us Masters and Slaves of Time

Why Time Appears to Pace Up as We Get Older: What the Analysis Says

An Animated Alan Watts Waxes Philosophical About Time in The Advantageous Artwork of Goofing Off, the Seventies “Sesame Avenue for Grown-Ups”

The Rarest Sounds Throughout All Human Languages: Be taught What They Are, and Methods to Say Them

Was There a First Human Language?: Theories from the Enlightenment By means of Noam Chomsky

Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His initiatives embody the Substack publication Books on Cities, the e book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.


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