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Lesson Transcript


Antoni: How do you ask for the time in Afrikaans?
Dewan: And how do you tell the time?
At AfrikaansPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following scene: during a school break, Sasha Lee discovers that she's left her watch at home, so she asks her classmate, Carolina Van der Merwe:
"What time is it?"
Sasha Lee: Hoe laat is dit?
Sasha Lee: Hoe laat is dit?
Carolina Van der Merwe: Dit is kwart oor drie.
Antoni: Once more with the English translation.
Sasha Lee: Hoe laat is dit?
Antoni: "What time is it?"
Carolina Van der Merwe: Dit is kwart oor drie.
Antoni: "It's a quarter past three."

Lesson focus

Antoni: Knowing how to ask for and tell the time is important in any culture. It's one of the tools we use to navigate our way in the world. It's also a great conversation starter! So, this lesson focuses on asking for the time and answering questions about it in Afrikaans.
Let’s start by looking at words we can use to define units of time. In Afrikaans, the word for “hour” is
Dewan: uur
Antoni: and if you want to say, “An hour has passed”, in Afrikaans, you would say
Dewan: ‘n Uur is verby.
Antoni: The word for “minute” is
Dewan: minuut
Antoni: and if we talk about “a couple of minutes” we say
Dewan: ‘n paar minute.
Antoni: In Afrikaans, "a second” is
Dewan: ‘n sekonde
Antoni: and “a few seconds”,
Dewan: ‘n paar sekondes.
Generally, Afrikaans speakers stick to the twelve-hour clock system, but you will see the twenty-four-hour clock in writing about the time.
In Afrikaans, the word for AM, is
Dewan: voormiddag,
Antoni: which translates to “before noon,” and PM is
Dewan: namiddag,
Antoni: meaning “afternoon”, but you will rarely hear an Afrikaans speaker use these distinctions when they ask for or tell the time. Depending on whether it is morning or afternoon, speakers will infer the time within context. So, for example, if you say,
Dewan: Kom ons ontmoet mekaar om ses,
Antoni: which translates as “Let’s meet each other at six o’clock,” the listener will know whether you mean six o’clock in the morning or six o’clock at night because you agreed to a certain activity that makes sense for that time of day. But, if the context isn't clear, meaning that activity could happen either in the morning or at night, you could clarify by asking:
Dewan: Bedoel jy sesuur vanaand?
Antoni: meaning “Do you mean six-o'-clock tonight?”
[Recall 1]
Antoni: Now that we’ve covered some basics, let’s return to the conversation between Sasha Lee and her classmate, Carolina.
Do you remember how Sasha Lee asks "What time is it?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Dewan as Sasha Lee: Hoe laat is dit?
Antoni: The literal translation is “How late is it?” Especially if you're talking to someone you don't know, it is always good practice to be polite by asking,
Dewan: Verskoon my, hoe laat is dit?
Antoni: which means “Excuse me, what time is it?” Another, more informal way you could ask the time is
Dewan: Wat is die tyd?
Antoni: meaning, “What is the time?” Sometimes we want to know something about an aspect of time, such as “How much time is left?”. In this case, we would ask,
Dewan: Hoeveel tyd is oor?
Antoni: to which the reply could be, “There are forty-five minutes left.”
Dewan: Daar’s vyf-en-veertig minute oor.
[Recall 2]
Antoni: Now let’s take a look at the second sentence in the dialogue.
Do you remember how Carolina says "It's a quarter past three"?
(pause 4 seconds)
Dewan as Carolina: Dit is kwart oor drie.
Antoni: How you answer in Afrikaans is very similar to the way questions about the time are answered in English. Simply say “it is”,
Dewan: Dit is
Antoni: and then add the time—"quarter past three"
Dewan: kwart oor drie.
Antoni: Like in English, there are phrases that explain set periods of time. When Carolina answers, she uses the Afrikaans word for “quarter”, which is
Dewan: kwart.
Antoni: She indicates that it is “quarter past” by adding
Dewan: oor
Antoni: which is a preposition that means "over".
Dewan: Kwart oor
Antoni: literally translates to "quarter over". If the time was "quarter to”, Carolina would have used the phrase,
Dewan: kwart voor.
Antoni: This is an exact translation. Things get a bit more tricky in Afrikaans when thirty minutes after or before the hour is expressed. In English, we would say, for instance, "half past three".
Dewan: Half vier.
Antoni: Directly translated, this is “half four.” When telling the time in half hours, Afrikaners would indicate the thirty minutes that remain until the next hour. By contrast, English speakers count the thirty minutes that have passed since the last hour.
If you were told the time and are left confused, you could ask for clarification using the twenty-four-hour-clock system as your point of reference. Let’s take this example. If, in response to your question,
Dewan: Hoe laat is dit?
Antoni: the answer is,
Dewan: Half een.
Antoni: you can reply by asking,
Dewan: Bedoel jy twaalf dertig?
Antoni: which means “Do you mean twelve-thirty?” Most Afrikaners will understand what you mean.
If you need to express the exact number of minutes before or after the hour, you would do it as follows,
Dewan: Dit is drie-en-twintig minute voor nege.
Antoni: meaning “It is twenty-three minutes to nine.” The word,
Dewan: voor,
Antoni: means “before”, while if you wanted to say “It is seventeen minutes past ten”, it would sound like this in Afrikaans,
Dewan: Dit is sewentien minute oor tien.
Antoni: Here again, the preposition in Afrikaans for “past” is,
Dewan: oor.
Antoni: In vernacular Afrikaans, we don’t always tell the exact time, such as when we say, “It’s just before two” in English. An approximation of the time in Afrikaans is expressed with the prepositional phrase
Dewan: net voor
Antoni: which means “just before,”. So, in response to the informal question; "What's the time, please?"
Dewan: Wat's die tyd, asseblief?
Antoni: you would say
Dewan: Dis net voor twee.
Antoni: "It's just before three." If the time was just after two, you would use the preposition
Dewan: na
Antoni: which means "past" or "after".
Dewan: Dis net na twee.
Antoni: "It's just past two."
Antoni: In this lesson, you learned how to ask the time in different ways in Afrikaans. You also learned how to answer questions about time in different ways. Let’s consider a few more examples that will help us remember what we learned. The first example is,
Dewan: Verskoon my, hoe laat is dit?
Antoni: meaning, “Excuse me, what is the time?” This is a polite way of asking the time.
Dewan: Dit is tien oor vyf.
Antoni: "It is ten past five". Next, more informal speech:
Dewan: Wat is die tyd?
Antoni: "What's the time?"
Dewan: Dis half-elf.
Antoni: "It's half-past ten.”
Antoni: Let’s return briefly to an example from earlier in our lesson,
Dewan: Kom ons ontmoet mekaar om ses,
Antoni: “Let’s meet each other at six o’clock.” You will note the preposition, “at”, which in Afrikaans is,
Dewan: om.
Antoni: Here, we are referring to the precise time an event will happen, as opposed to expressing the time in general. The preposition “at” will always denote that something is happening at a specific time. Some examples include,
Dewan: Middagete word om twaalf dertig bedien.
Antoni: meaning “Lunch is served at twelve-thirty PM.”
Dewan: My joga klas begin reeds om agtuur.
Antoni: which translates to, “My yoga class starts at eight o’clock already.”
Dewan: Ek het eers om middernag tuisgekom.
Antoni: meaning, “I only got home at midnight.”


Antoni: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Dewan: Totsiens!
Antoni: See you soon!
Credits: Dewan (Afrikaans, Pietermaritzburg), Antoni (English, synthetic voice)