Outta Time

27 Mar, 2005 | TravelTdp

I was talking with my Dutch colleagues again the other day and was amazed at some more strange (at least to me) things in the Dutch language.

Take numbers for example. The Dutch are all fine up to 20, then they do something strange. 21 for example, is said (in Dutch) 1 and 20. Now, I remember finding French a bit strange because you say 20 and 1, in English we've dropped the and bit as it's pointless. In good old English we used to say 4 and 20 when we meant 24 (it still survives in at least one nursery rhyme), but that has long since changed so I found it odd that Dutch hadn't. To make matters worse, they don't do that for hundreds, so 301 is 300 and 1, not 1 and 300, but 321 is 300, 1 and 20.

Another oddity is telling the time. In English, everything up to 30 mins is past the hour; half past, quarter past, 10 past, etc. Everything after 30 mins is to the next hour; 25 to, quarter to, 10 to, etc. But in Holland, they change on the 30 mins so that anything before is past the hour (quarter past) but half past is to the hour, so if I say half eight I mean it's 8:30, but to the Dutch half eight means it's 7:30 (half to eight).

Bizarre and at the same time fascinating.