Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Hoe Laat is Het?

Picture 2150

Hoe laat is het? means what time is it, or quite literally "how late is it?"

Telling time seems like it should be a pretty straightforward process. However, as I am finding with a good many things here in The Netherlands, it is not as straightforward as you might think! One might even call it ingewikkeld (I learned this word today so I'm going to use it as often as possible- it means "complicated").

If it's 4:30 and someone asks the time, in English you would respond with "half past four" or "four-thirty." In Dutch, you would say half vijf (literally "half five). So, 3:30 would be half vier, 2:30 would be half drie and so on and so forth. That's not really SO bad once you get into the habit of remembering that the time is actually the number BEFORE what is said. After that point it seems that things get progressively tricky. If you look at the picture of the clock, it's 11:25. In Dutch you would say "vijf voor half twalf" (five before half twelve). The area of the clock the minute hand is in will determine the terminology used to tell the time. It can really get a little hard to explain, so I have made you this nifty chart. Pretend it's the face of a clock!

Time Chart

I'll go through the hour every five minutes to show you how it works.

10:00- tien uur (ten o'clock)

10:05- vijf over tien (five past ten)

10:10- tien over tien (ten past ten)

10:15- kwart over tien (quarter past ten)

10:20- tien voor half elf (ten til half eleven)

10:25- vijf voor half elf (five til half eleven)

10:30- half elf (half eleven)

10:35- vijf over half elf (five past half eleven)

10:40- tien over half elf (ten past half eleven)

10:45- kwart voor elf (quarter til eleven)

10:50- tien voor elf (ten til eleven)

10:55- vijf voor elf (five til eleven)

11:00- elf uur eleven o'clock

Clear as mud, eh?


Noodle said...

Holy cow I don't wear a watch but I would if I lived there cause holy crap I would always be way eairly or late for something... I'm sorry I hope not every thing is that complicated over there...

Sonya said...

The first time someone told me the time in that complicated way I asked them to write it I still dont grasp it and ask Edwin the correct time to make sure I understood it

Alea said...

LOL! We had a Russian foreign exchange student live with us and I remeber her coming home extremely confused after aleeson on time in English. I told her if someone asked her the time to show them her watch. :-)

Grey said...

You know, it's really strange. My grandparents in Appalachia told time like that, but I've never heard it used anywhere else until now. As far as I know they have no connections at all to the Netherlands.

And apparently being exposed to that weird system as a kid helps, because it makes perfect sense to me :) .

Life Abroad said...

Whoa.....can't anything be simple here?! hahaha! That just made my head spin. Thank you for sharing though, your diagram really helps!

Leanne said...

Ha, I remember when I visited Gouda (may not be the correct spelling) when I was 11 and being told by our group leader not to bother asking the time because we wouldn't understand the answer. Now I get why she said that.

Mind you time doesn't really matter to an 11 year standing in an ice cream parlour stuffing her face with blackberry ice cream that I've searched the earth for and never been able to find anything else quite like it or half as good.

LV said...

What an interesting post. I wish I could speak or understood other languages. Sometimes, I am not too good with our English. So nice of you to stop by for a visit at my post today.

Kori said...

I would so just throw the watch away and forget even caring what time it was; when it is dark, time to sleep, when the sun comes up, time to get up. That is enough for me. : )

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the language lesson. I have a friend in Finland - it took her a long time to learn Finnish and Swedish, but she has it down now. Thanks for stopping by my blog - hope you enjoy the mushrooms!

Anonymous said...

The only confusing bit of that is the half past bit? But maybe it's because I speak polish where they do the same way the dutch except 4:30 would be "in half to five".

Anonymous said...

...But then for anything official/precise they'd say "sixteen thirty" if it was the afternoon.

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