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22-11-2019, 05:55 UTC
Living Czech

Travels through time

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Hello and welcome to Living Czech. I'm here with Daniela Lazarova, and the theme for today is time. Or, telling the time. This is actually one of the more complicated areas of the Czech language, but we'll start of with some of the easier stuff.

The day is split into several basic parts. Ráno means the early morning, and dopoledne means the morning, or literally, up until noon. Poledne is noon or literally midday, and odpoledne is the afternoon, or from noon onwards. Veèer is the evening, and noc means night. Pùlnoc is midnight.

The Czech for an hour is hodina and is also for "o'clock". Hodina is a feminine noun, so for the numbers two to four it becomes hodiny, which is the plural, and from five onwards it is hodina, which is the genitive plural, and literally means "five of hours". So, "It's one o'clock" in Czech is "Je jedna hodina", "It's three o'clock", is "Jsou tøi hodiny", and "It's five o'clock" is "Je pìt hodin".

Things become trickier when you talk about half hours and quarter hours. If you want to say "half past five", then in Czech this is "pùl ¹esté", or literally "half of six". In the same way "half past eight" is "pùl deváté", or "half of nine. This causes a lot of confusion for native English speakers as "pùl deváté" sounds like "half past nine" to us. In many cases this has lead to English speakers, myself included, turning up exactly one hour late.

Confusion is also caused by quarter hours. The equivalent of "quarter past seven" is "ètvrt na osm", or literally "a quarter to eight", and a "a quarter past four" is "ètvrt na pìt". Saying a "quarter to eight" is easier, as it is "tøi ètvrtì na osm", or literally "three quarters to eight", which to the native English ear makes sense.

For in between times, such as ten minutes to five, the Czech is "za deset pìt", or literally "in ten minutes five" is fairly straightforward. Again, though the half hours can cause problems. Seven twenty five is "za pìt pùl osmé", or literally "in five half of eight", which begins to sound almost like a secret code.

The Czechs, though, are aware of the problems that telling the time in their language can cause foreigners, and when arranging to meet, they will often nowadays use the twenty four clock. So, six thirty in the evening is simply "osmnáct tøicet" or "eighteen thirty". Eleven thirty in the morning is "jedenáct tøicet" and so on. This makes things a great deal easier, as long as you can up to twenty four, that is. And it saves your Czech friends from waiting for you for an hour.

Well, that's is for this week. Next week we will have a look at what the Czechs call each other, their neighbouring countries and other nations from around the world, both in official and slang terms. So, until then, mìjte se fajn, or take care.

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