In case anyone's still interested a year later:
I don't know for sure where it comes from (see below for speculation), but much of Europe outside the UK uses it (all other Germanic/Scandinavian languages, most Slavic languages, all Baltic languages, and all Finno-Ugric languages) - or at least the "half seven" = 6:30 part. I'm not familiar enough with most of those languages to know whether they say 6:20 like Dutch, and online translators are stupendously lazy at translating time (they generally just use digits, or they translate the two number words separately and place them next to each other, or they just go full retard and translate "tien voor half zeven" as 7:20). I suspect that many of them don't go so far as to calculate from the half hour, but I know German does (it's just not as common as saying sechs Uhr zwanzig), and Norwegian and Danish do. Swedish and Icelandic don't, neither does Russian. Other than that, I'm not sure.
Perhaps I'm over-analyzing, but as the "half seven" part is used in all Lutheran-dominated countries, but not all Eastern Orthodox and only a handful of Catholic countries - all of which have or used to have Lutheran minority populations - I'm guessing the Germans had a hand in spreading it to at least some countries (such as Finland and Estonia). This is supported by the fact that the only Germanic language that doesn't use it is English, and the UK isn't Lutheran. Maybe religion has nothing to do with it and it's just a Germanic/Slavic/Baltic thing that was spread to Finland, Estonia and Hungary by the Germans and dropped or missed by the English? At any rate, it seems to originate in Northern or Eastern Europe.
On a side note, Danish uses an excessively complex method of counting above 50 which involves "halv"-number being used in a similar manner. For example, while forty-one is enogfyrre or one and forty, fifty-one is enoghalvtreds, which is a shortening of enoghalvtredsindstyve or one and half threescore, where half threescore = 50 because...half 3 = 2.5, times 20 = 50. This continues to 99, and starts again at 151. This is even worse than the French four x twenty + ten + nine = 99, because at least there's no half score nonsense. However, this crazy Danish counting scheme isn't old enough to say that it means Denmark came up with the "half seven" thing, but maybe they came up with the "ten til half seven" part, since they're one of only a few countries to use it.
Anyway, enough rambling.
Hi John. Very interesting contribution, I mean it, but the Danish counting part is far to inaccessible to me. I should apply for a mathematics class at the Harvard University.. or something like that. I makes me feel so human unable, If you know what I mean. Thanks though. Language is counting, measuring, positioning, technology too. So no harm done! Have fun.
In Ireland or the UK, "half seven" is often heard and meant as "half PAST seven"... Just to add to the confusion! :-D
I asked a Dutch friend about this and she says they don't use to/from the half hour. She says they say the time the same way we do in English except of course "half zeven" means "half to seven" instead of our "half past six". Is this a regional thing maybe?
In the Netherlands it is perfectly normal to say "Het is tien voor half zes/tien over half zes". Perhaps your friend does not say it like that, but loads of people in the Netherlands (and in Belgium) do.
When I lived in the Netherlands for two years, I was told specifically to avoid telling time that way because it was too 'ingewikkeld.' Perhaps I was told wrong, though.
It's a matter of preference: http://taaladvies.net/taal/advies/vraag/1177/acht_uur_zeventien_zeventien_over_acht_dertien_voor_halfnegen/
Every language is idiomatic. When we learn another language there is a temptation to think "my language makes sense and theirs doesn't"! May I suggest that you find it fascinating instead of strange?
Typed 6:20 and apparently the colon counted as a typo. Curious Dutch punctuation!
It's in the system like 6:20, that it is counted as a typo is hence a Duolingo issue.
Is there a reason why the literal translation (it is ten to half seven) is not accepted? It still makes sense (doesn't it?)
I see what you mean; my point is that - regardless of whether the English translation makes sense - I think literal translations should be accepted. As an English speaker, it's not always helpful just to know the English equivalent of what I'm saying - I like to also know that I've got a grasp on what I'm saying literally in Dutch. But it's kind of hard to do that when Duolingo doesn't accept literal translations.
I see what you mean - but in this case the literal translation would be an hour out, and so to allow the literal translation would be more confusing than helpful.
There are other phrases where I've seen Duolingo accept the literal translation as well as the translation with the correct meaning. So it is permitted - but I don't think this is one of those times it should be.
English speakers do say "half seven", but it means 7.30.
Whereas in Dutch "half zeven" means 6.30.
The literal translation you suggest is literally wrong. You would be an hour late.
If you said "ten to half seven" in English it would sound very odd, and would be understood as 7.20
So if I said "Het is zes twintig" to a Dutch speaker, would they know what I mean?
But what if one said "het is twintig over zes"?
Would that mean "it is six twenty"?
I do hear 'twintig over zes', usually from young people (who may have been watching too much American TV), but I wouldn't go so far as to say It's good Dutch. I'm not native though; my Dutch husband thinks it's an OK structure, but he's doubting himself because he lived in England for 5 years and may have been 'contaminated'.
Hi Alex. "Twintig over zes" is to consider dialectic, so uncorrect. It happened to hear "zes uur twintig" or "zes uur vijventwintig". Or when the hour just passed: "zes uur en drie minuten" for instance. But I fear that is Flemish language (from Dutch speaking Belgium). Learning good Dutch means listen to Elthek and Raahiba their suggestions. Best wishes !
You can use twintig over zes, it's a personal preference but there's nothing wrong with it (http://taaladvies.net/taal/advies/vraag/1177/acht_uur_zeventien_zeventien_over_acht_dertien_voor_halfnegen/). Both are used and acceptable.
Humm! C'est très interessant!
If it's a matter of personal preference, then I choose to go with the "minuut over uur" expression due to its relative simplicity.
I'll just have to keep in mind that some Dutch speakers will tell me the time in a way that will require I do quite a bit of arithmetic gymnastics in order to understand an otherwise simple concept.
Hmm, probably. "Zes uur twintig" would make more sense, or "twintig over zes".
This is what Google gave me, and it's how I think of it - use both the hour and the half hour to tell the time: http://blogs.transparent.com/dutch/what-time-is-it-telling-time-in-dutch/
At quarters, the full hour takes precedence:
6:00 - zes uur
6:10 - tien over zes
6:15 - kwart over zes (not 'kwart voor half zeven')
6:20 - tien voor half zeven
6:30 - half zeven (not 'half over zes' - or worse, 'half zes', which means 'half past five')
6:35 - vijf over half zeven
6:45 - kwart voor zeven (not 'kwart over half zeven')
6:55 - vijf voor zeven
7:00 - zeven uur
Indonesian also uses this style (adopted from Dutch). Over = lewat Voor = kurang Half = setengah Seis = enam Zeven = tujuh Twintig = dua puluh Uur = jam.
It is six twenty. 1. Jam enam (lewat) dua puluh. 2. Jam setengah tujuh kurang sepuluh (menit). This is really the same style as in Dutch.
"It is is twenty past six." is the English way of saying it. "It is six twenty." is the American way of saying it
My answer "It is ten to half seven." was flagged incorrect with "You used the wrong word. It is ten to half six." However wouldn't "It is ten to half six." be five twenty and not six twenty? In the Tips and notes for this section 6:30 is denoted as Half zeven.
So sorry for the non productive comment.. but seriously??? I thought no western language could get more confusing than French about numbers XD Why would you not just say "zes twintig"? :(
Tien voor half zeven, in other words ten minutes before six thirty makes 6:20/six twenty.
It doesn't accept a direct translation such as, "it is ten before half-past six" or even "ten before half six", both of which are perfectly normal contructions in british english. Do Americans never do this?
Perhaps it's more regional. Definitely a common way of expressing the time in East Anglia, Lincolnshire, much of Yorkshire and Lancashire, Cumbria, the NE of England, and much of Scotland (especially in less urban parts), if perhaps less so elsewhere.