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Expressing time in Latin: "dodrans"

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Expressing time in Latin: "dodrans"

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Thu Mar 27, 2014 7:58 pm

Salvete!

When expressing "a quarter to xxx" (e.g. 1:45 PM) one can use "dodrans", but there seems to be no exact agreement as to how to do so properly.

Traupman gives on page 81 of his Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency the following example:
Traupman wrote:Est prima hora et dodrans. -- It is 1:45


I found a Spanish/Latin-slideshow where a different use is shown:
Jesús León Vaquero wrote:1:45 -- Est (hora) secunda et dodrans = cum dodrante = dempto quadrante


Which one is correct?

Valete,

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Re: Expressing time in Latin: "dodrans"

Postby Qimmik » Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:19 pm

The ancient Romans didn't divide up their hours into finer units. They didn't wear watches. So you're free to use whichever expression you choose.
Last edited by Qimmik on Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Expressing time in Latin: "dodrans"

Postby Qimmik » Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:07 am

You can read about ancient Roman timekeeping here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_timekeeping

Daylight was divided into twelve hours, and the length of the hours varied with the seasons. They didn't divide time up into uniform units, and they didn't have adequate instrumentation to do so, at least not on a widespread basis capable of regulating the daily activities of society, as we do.

So the concept of "a quarter to two" or 1:45 was essentially meaningless in the Roman system of timekeeping.

Ancient astrologers divided the day into 24 uniform hours, and further into minutes and seconds, but astrologers just used these units for their calculations, not for keeping time on a daily basis. Uniform time units didn't become the basis for everyday timekeeping until the medieval period. But the earliest mechanical clocks, in the late middle ages, had only an hour hand. Watches with minute hands began to come into use (if you were wealthy and could afford one) in the 17th century. The railroads played a big part in imposing precise time measurement on society at large in the mid-19th century.
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Re: Expressing time in Latin: "dodrans"

Postby MiguelM » Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:29 am

« ... Time, said Austerlitz in the observation room in Greenwich, was by far the most artificial of all our inventions ... » (WG Sebald)
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Re: Expressing time in Latin: "dodrans"

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:50 pm

Salve Qimmik!

Qimmik wrote:The ancient Romans didn't divide up their hours into finer units. They didn't wear watches. So you're free to use whichever expression you choose.


You are right when you say that ancient time keeping had no use for minutes or even seconds. And the first (mechanical) clocks did not even have a minute hand yet, only one for the hour. But I would like to be able to use Latin expressions for something like 1:45 PM, in a modern context, of course. And I would like it to be "correct" Latin. When there are two different ways of using dodrans leading to different times, that is a problem, in my opinion. Language ought to be precise (I know, I know, I am hopelessly optimistic).

Vale,

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Re: Expressing time in Latin: "dodrans"

Postby MiguelM » Sun Mar 30, 2014 12:16 am

The second source you listed seems confused, and I don't exclude the possibility of a lapsus calami. There is no big maths here, Dodrans in Latin means simply 3/4ths, that is why we use it for hours, since we use the same metaphor of the cut-up circle to describe our cycle of minutes. So, whatever the rationale or the context, 1:45 can be hora prima et dodrans, hora prima cum dodrante, or hora secunda deficiente/dempto quadrante.
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Re: Expressing time in Latin: "dodrans"

Postby Qimmik » Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:57 am

Traupman treats hora prima as 1:00.

Vaquero treats hora prima as the hour between 12:00 and 1:00, so that hora secunda is the hour between 1:00 and 2:00. This is the way time is expressed in some (but apparently not all) parts of Germany and in Russian (Viertel zwei = 1:15 in eastern Germany; see below), and for all I know the Spanish way, too. But Vaquero is a little confused on this point.

Est (hora) secunda et dodrans = cum dodrante = dempto quadrante


Vaquero apparently offers three alternatives:

1. Est (hora) secunda et dodrans (hora secunda = the second hour (i.e., 1:00) and three-quarters.

2. Est (hora) secunda cum dodrante (hora secunda = the second hour (i.e., 1:00), with three-quarters.

3. Est (hora) secunda dempto dodrante. If the hour between 1:00 and 2:00 is treated as hora secunda, it would be necessary to express 1: 45 as hora tertia dempto quadrante, unless you are following Traupman's system.

I would like it to be "correct" Latin. When there are two different ways of using dodrans leading to different times, that is a problem, in my opinion.


Of course it's a problem. There haven't been any native speakers of Latin for 1,500 years, more or less, and native speakers of Latin didn't measure time uniform units and certainly didn't measure time in quarters of hours. Under the circumstances, what standard do you propose to look to in order to determine "correct" Latin?

The alternatives offered by Traupman and Vaquero are simply made up our of thin air to express an un-Latin concept in a blind guess as to what an ancient Roman might say if he or she had a timekeeper that measured uniform hours and had a minute hand, in order to express in Latin concepts that didn't enter common currency in European languages until the mid-19th century. They're no different than a textbook on number theory in Pirahã. In other words, each of the proposed expressions for 1:45 is equally valid. Take your choice.

From the Wikipedia article "Uhrzeit":

Je nach Region sind unterschiedliche Aussprachen gängig. So wird 17:15 Uhr im Westen Deutschlands, d. h. genauer westlich der Linie Lübeck–Saarbrücken, sowie in Teilen Bayerns und Baden-Württembergs, in der Schweiz, in Liechtenstein und in Vorarlberg gewöhnlich als „Viertel nach fünf“ bezeichnet (in Teilen Österreichs auch „Viertel über fünf“ und in der Schweiz auch „Viertel ab fünf“). Östlich der Linie wird von „viertel sechs“ gesprochen. Analog ist es bei der Bezeichnung von 17:45 Uhr, wobei im Westen „Viertel vor sechs“ und östlich dieser Linie sowie in Österreich „dreiviertel sechs“ üblich ist.
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Re: Expressing time in Latin: "dodrans"

Postby Shenoute » Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:22 am

There are instances in Pliny of time being counted in minutes.
See this link for some references.
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Re: Expressing time in Latin: "dodrans"

Postby Qimmik » Mon Mar 31, 2014 12:31 pm

The citation seems to be from the elder Pliny's natural history. I don't have access to this work. He is probably using sidereal time, the astonomical/astrological system of measuring time and specifying the position of celestial objects with reference to the celestial equator or the ecliptic, divided into 24 uniform hours or hour angles, which could be subdivided into finer units. This system would have been used for scientific and astrological purposes, but not for everyday timekeeping, and it wouldn't be useful for everyday timekeeping because it's independent of local time. (The equatorial system starts from the vernal equinox--one of the two points where the celestial equator, i.e., the earth's equator projected onto the imaginary celestial sphere, crosses the ecliptic, i.e., the circle that represents the sun's apparent path through the sky against the background of the fixed stars over the course of a year; the first hour would be an arc along the celestial equator starting at the vernal equinox and equal to 360/24=15 degrees; it would take one hour for the apparent position of a star on the celestial sphere to move through this arc.)

You can see the difficulties the author of Latium Redivivum falls into in trying to construct a method of rendering modern time measurements in Latin, especially since sidereal hours were divided into ounces.
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