"quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"

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skullturf
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"quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"

Postby skullturf » Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:13 pm UTC

I was born and raised in Western Canada, and now live in Delaware.

The other day, I heard two different people describe the time by saying "It's ten of four" where I would say "It's ten to four". Meaning that it's 3:50. (I have also sometimes heard people say things like "ten till".) "Ten of four" sounds strange to me, but I know I've encountered it before, and I know it's a very common thing to say in some regions.

Can somebody help me find data about the prevalence of saying "quarter of" / "ten of" in different regions?

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Qaanol
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Re: "quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"

Postby Qaanol » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:05 pm UTC

I can anecdote you on this. I’m in the northeastern USA, and when I’m going to name the hour, as in “quarter <preposition> four”, “ten <preposition> four”, or “six minutes <preposition> four” then I use “to”. However, when I omit the hour, as in “quarter <preposition>”, “ten <preposition>”, or “six minutes <preposition>” then I use “of”.

Also, obligatory tongue-twister:
Spoiler:
What a to-do to die today
At a minute or two to two,
A thing distinctly hard to say
But harder still to do.
We’ll beat a tattoo at twenty to two
A-ratatat tatatat ta-ta-tattoo,
And the dragon will come when he hears the drum
At a minute or two to two today,
At a minute or two to two.
Last edited by Qaanol on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:55 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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eSOANEM
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Re: "quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:09 pm UTC

Are you sure it's "quarter of" not "quarter off"? I can't say I've heard either, but the latter seems more reasonable to me.

I always use to/past for the prepositions when I'm saying the time as if from an analogue clock face, if I'm saying it as if from a digital clock face, I'll just say "three, forty" or "two twenty" etc.
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skullturf
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Re: "quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"

Postby skullturf » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:14 pm UTC

It's definitely "quarter of". It might be almost nonexistent in England, but I know it's common in parts of North America. I'm just trying to get a sense of which parts. It sounds weird to me, but it's a very ordinary part of some people's dialect.

I now can't remember whether the people I overheard said "ten of four" or just "ten of". It's even possible that each was said by one of the two people.

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Re: "quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"

Postby Derek » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:53 pm UTC

I've heard all three forms. I usually use "to" or "til" myself, although I rarely give time in subtractive form anyways. (I prefer to say "Three fifty")

Also, obligatory tongue-twister:
Spoiler:
What a to-do to die today
At a minute or two to two,
A thing distinctly hard to say
But harder still to do.
We’ll beat a tattoo at twenty to two
A-ratatat tatatat ta-ta-tattoo,
And the dragon will come when he hears the drum
At a minute or two to two today,
At a minute or two to two.

I don't find that particularly hard to say. In fact, I quite like the way "What a to-do to die today" rolls off the tongue. The hardest part is counting the correct number of tat's in the seventh line (saying them is easy).

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Qaanol
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Re: "quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"

Postby Qaanol » Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:26 am UTC

Derek wrote:I don't find that particularly hard to say. In fact, I quite like the way "What a to-do to die today" rolls off the tongue. The hardest part is counting the correct number of tat's in the seventh line (saying them is easy).

Well, it’s actually a theatre warm-up exercise. So the trick is not so much in saying it quickly, but rather saying it with crystal-clear enunciation, quickly and loudly. Also just to get the speaky parts moving.
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Proginoskes
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Re: "quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"

Postby Proginoskes » Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:56 am UTC

Derek wrote:I've heard all three forms. I usually use "to" or "til" myself, although I rarely give time in subtractive form anyways. (I prefer to say "Three fifty")


The prevalence of exact time is probably due to digital clocks.

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Re: "quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"

Postby Derek » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:39 am UTC

Probably. I do like digital clocks.

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PM 2Ring
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Re: "quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"

Postby PM 2Ring » Mon Mar 26, 2012 5:22 am UTC

skullturf wrote:It's definitely "quarter of". It might be almost nonexistent in England, but I know it's common in parts of North America. I'm just trying to get a sense of which parts. It sounds weird to me, but it's a very ordinary part of some people's dialect.

I now can't remember whether the people I overheard said "ten of four" or just "ten of". It's even possible that each was said by one of the two people.

TTBOMK, this form is non-standard in Australia, but I've heard it used by people from northern England (Yorkshire).

posentin
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Re: "quarter of", "quarter till", "quarter to"

Postby posentin » Sun May 20, 2012 9:27 pm UTC

Ive a quick relevant piece, but its limited to a region of riverside in california in "spring of 1969" and the LAPC (linguistic atlas of the pacific coast [california & nevada]) from the 1950s

16. what time does this clock (item I) say?

quarter TO two 125 (22), quarter OF two 53 (11), quarter TILL two 24 (4)
LAPC: quarter TO eleven 66% B, quarter OF eleven 30% G, quarter TILL eleven 4%

The first number after each responce is the total number of persons who gave it; the number of native riversiders appears in parentheses. Linguistic atlas percentages for comparable items appear with the designation LAPC on the next line. This line also shows the responces of the two Riverside informants: B indicates the older woman and G younger.


related, theres an article by Chia-Yi Tony Pi - 2000: Canadians telling time: A study in Dialect Topography regarding time telling


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