This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Getting the pip: a rant.

I'm told, and I'm in no position to argue, that the space /time continuum is curved. I even understand* that quantum theory depends upon things being in two different places at once. But, come on, actual day-to-day time just goes...well, forwards.

Doesn't it?

(The novelist in me is whispering things about flashbacks, prophesies, prolepsis, and all the various ways a modern writer likes to baffle his readers, but I shall not be distracted.)

So. 12pm. When's that, then?

PM stands for post meridiem, which means after noon. Noon is twelve o'clock in the day time, so therefore 12pm must be twelve o'clock at night.

No arguing with that.

Then there's AM, which stands for ante meridiem, which means before noon. Noon is twelve o'clock in the daytime, so therefore 12am must be twelve o'clock at...

...oh dear. Bang goes our chance of meeting under the clock and living happily ever after. 

Look, as 12 am and 12 pm cause difficulties then why not use either a) twelve noon and twelve midnight; b) noon and midnight; or c) the perfectly serviceable twenty four hour clock that gives you 1200 for noon and 0000 for midnight?

Then we'll all know when we are, won't we.

Word To Use Today: noon. This word is from the Old English nōn, from the Latin nōna [hōra], which means the ninth [hour] (after sunrise).

This, of course, was at three o'clock in the afternoon.

*Sorry, that's a very loose way of using of the word understand.

PS I wrote this post a few days ago, only to find that the new redesigned blogger clock is enmeshed in just this confusion, which is why (I think) my posts have been posting themselves at odd times.



  1. I ALWAYS get confused and use noon and midnight precisely because of that! It's a nuisance when you're setting clocks etc. If I ever had to set an alarm for midnight, I'd probably set it to 12.01 am in full confidence that it's AM by then. Silly!

    1. I quite agree - though it occurs to me that ghosts manage the midnight thing with ease. I wonder how they do it?