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  5. "Secunda hora est."

"Secunda hora est."

Translation:It is the second hour.

September 2, 2019



Did the Romans use a 24-hour clock? Would this be only 2:00 am? I suspect that it was like modern-day Italy, where schedules are annotated in 24-hour time, but while speaking one uses a 12-hour clock. So this sentence could mean either 2:00 am or 2:00 pm. Ah, ante meridiem, of course they used a 12-hour clock.


The Romans counted the hours of the daylight as 12. In the summer they were longer hours, in the winter shorter ones. If we are near the Equinoxes the second hour would be around 8 am.

EDIT The Wikipedia pages has a few good diagrams https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_timekeeping :)


Thanks Daniel. Isn't that article great? A user named The9 posted a link to it in another SD, so I actually used the search box to find this comment again, and was going to answer my own question. To be specific, the answer is no, they did not use a 24-hour clock, and also they did not colloquially use "a.m." and "p.m." as we do. Instead, to indicate that it is a day or night hour Romans used expressions such as for example prima diei hora, prima noctis hora, hora prima noctis. These would mean the first hour after sunrise, and the first hour after sunset.


What a fabulous article! Now I understand about "siesta" and "noon" ! Highly recommended.


I would always translate this as eight A. M.


But it will only be 8 am on the two equinoxes. In the dead of winter those hours are about 45 minutes each.


Given that your "8.00 a.m." would refer to a very different time within the 24-hour span of one day in mid-summer and in mid-winter.


Why the "h" is not pronounced in this case?


There are good reasons to assume that the h was never pronounced (at the beginning of a word) in Latin, e.g. elision in poetry ("mala hora" can be read as three rather than four syllables, "malora") and some graffiti with hypercorrective spelling mistakes (I believe there is one writing "have!" for "ave!"). The speakers in Duolingo may not be fully consistent on this point.


I think that it must have been pronounced at SOME point in the history of the Latin language. Otherwise, why go to the bother of devising and using the letter H?


Of course you're right; and notice that the Romance languages continue to print it, though pronunciation of it gets more and more attenuated.


In Portuguese we always write it but never pronounce it!


A few thoughts. English has historically pronounced H in most words, including has, hate, hotel, him. But if you listen to most speakers in southern England (not just Londoners) you will now routinely hear 'as, 'ate, 'otel and 'im.

Romance languages increasingly attenuate what is left of their h sounds, from heure to horaire and from haber to huracán .

German still pronounces initial h but drops it medially when it is used to mark a long vowel, as in stehen or fahren In the digraph th, as in Thema, it is always silent.

My linguistics is not up to generalising from these observations, but I smell a rat. Perhaps there is a "rule" here? It would be interesting if anyone could shed light on this.


This wiki-article might give you some insight: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-dropping


Yes, sorry, to clarify: by "the h was probably never pronounced" I meant to say that in Classical Latin, say from 75 BCE onwards, the Latin that you learn on Duolingo, the h was probably not pronounced in any word -- not that the h was never pronounced at any point during the development of the language. (It is certain that the h was lost completely in Late Latin, but I think that scholars disagree over the question of when the process set in.)


There are many spellings of "have". Including one very conspicuous one in Pompeii, where there is a sort of welcome-mat in mosaic in front of a building prominently spelling HAVE in big, friendly letters. There is no reason for Romans to assume there ought to have been an H there if it wasn't pronounced in "proper" speech.

In Pompeii there is also a graffiti where "hic" is spelled "ic", so we know that H-dropping was a thing even at that time. Dialectal variation is only to be expected even in Latin, after all.

But, we know that the H was still included centuries later. The Appendix Probi of the 3rd or 4th century AD corrects common mistakes in Latin. Such as,

februarius non febrarius
angulus non anglus
oculus non oclus
hostiae non ostiae

Since there was never any formalised spelling, so this text refers mainly to pronunciation. A further clue that this is the case is this:

labsus non lapsus
amfora non ampora

In classical Latin, the latter is usually spelled "amphora". Had the author merely intended to correct the spelling, he would have said "amphora non ampora".


Excellent contribution. Gratias tibi valde


But wasn't -ph- used for aspirated /p/ and not for /h/?


Same in spanish, tho by english influence i'm tempted to pronounce the H's everytime i see them xD


apart from it being 8am, could this sentence also be used in the context, 'we've been waiting in line for AGES... it is the second hour (that we've been here)'?


I think it's just a time-of-day-marker: the second hour counting from dawn.

If you want to say "for two hours" (we've been waiting here): that's called an accusative of time construction: duās hōrās (hīc mānsimus).


Nothing of substance to add to SuzanneNussbaum's point. Two examples: Matt 27:45 A sexta autem hora tenebrae factae sunt super universam terram usque ad horam nonam, "From the sixth hour there was darkness over the entire earth until the ninth hour." Mark 15:25 Erat autem hora tertia et crucifixerunt eum.


I put "it is the second our" accidentally, oops.


I’m a little surprised by how many possible translations (that I would have thought were obvious ones to include) aren’t accepted on this sentence. “There is a second hour”, “the second hour exists”, and “it is a second hour” were all rejected when I tried them. It occurs to me now that I also should have tried “a second hour exists”, but presumably that one’s not in there, either.


I'm sorry, but none of those are very good translations of the exercise. They don't convey the meaning of the Latin, nor do they make much sense in English.


In order to make a good translation it is vital to consider the context under which the statements have been said. In this case I think there is a bit of confusion regarding the use of the verb "est". Think of it a bit like you would in English: when you say "It is 01:00 p.m.", you are not talking about the existence of 01:00 p.m. or that "there is 01:00 p.m.", so those translations are out of the question. Actually, what you want to express is that at that moment the time of day is 01:00 p.m., and the direct translation of "it is" as "est" is just right.

As you know, there are more uses of the verb "is", which for our purposes is "est":

• It describes a state or quality peculiar to the subject being spoken about ("The teacher is tired"). • It relates two objects within the same sentence ("She is a doctor"). • It indicates existence ("There is a university in Rome").

It is worth noting that "est" can be translated not only as "is", but also as "are" ("They are kind relatives"; "The old drunk men are happy").

To make my point clearer I have only used sentences that you have already worked on in previous levels in Duolingo - you can revisit them, if you like!


When you want to translate "is" as "are" ("They are kind relatives"), wouldn't we use the 3rd person plural sunt instead of est ?

This verb, like all Latin verbs, has a full set of 6 forms (for the present tense): "I am" = sum ; "you (sing) are" = es ; "he/she/it is" = est ; "we are" = sumus ; "you (plur) are" = estis ; "they are" = sunt .

Not sure what any of this has to do with the sentence about the hour, though.

Latin students need to be able to distinguish between the nominative form of an hour (like, Secunda hōra est , "It is the second hour") and the ablative form (like, Secundā hōrā necesse est discēdere , "AT the 2nd hour, it is necessary to leave"). Notā bene: you need to be aware of the "long mark" (-ā) on the ablative singular form of secundā hōrā , that distinguishes it from the short -a of the nominative (secunda hōra ).

I can imagine a situation like, "It is the second hour, and yet the soldiers are not here yet!", which would require the nominative (so that hōra can be subject of est ).

The ablative case is used to give a point in time at which something happens: "at the second hour, the soldiers attacked."

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