You might see some comments below but if it helps, the gets used with nouns a lot in Italian anyway, it's just the actual noun is left out, so it's the one hour, the two hours, the three hours etc. except the word for 'hour' is left out in the answer. (Though not in the question che ora è? or che ore sono?) But they are implicitly there so the answer is a shortcut way of saying 'it is the 14 hours' which if you think about it isn't much odder than the way we sometimes call it fourteen hundred. (especially since hundred isn't even accurate here).
the question is "what time is it?" = "Che ora è?" or "Che ore sono?"
If the time is one o'clock, noon, or midnight, the answer is in the singular; for all other hours, it is plural.
Also check this out: http://italian.about.com/library/fare/blfare136a.htm
How would I say, 'I am fourteenth' or 'I am number 14' (Would I have to use the word 'number' in Italian? Or could I just say, 'I'm fourteen' to mean, 'I'm the person holding ticket 14' or 'I'm the person wearing number 14 in the race' - in that sense of 'being' number 14?)
As explained above, it's common in Europe to use what Americans consider 'military' time, or the 24 hour clock. So if you just say, 'It's 2 o'clock,' that would be 2 o'clock in the morning. But if you keep counting (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 in the morning, 12 noon, 13 = 1 o'clock in the afternoon and) 14 = 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and so on.
In other words, any number after 12 means 'in the afternoon' or in the evening (like 19:00 or 20:00 or 21:00 and so on). So in short, 'in the afternoon' is obvious if you're used to speaking of time the continental European way. If you say, 'I'll meet you at 17:00 it has to be 'in the afternoon,' and nobody needs to say 'in the afternoon.' But when you translate that into English, you'd say, 'I'll meet you at 5 o'clock' and you have to clarify: five in the morning? or five in the afternoon?
So when you translate the 24-hour clock into English, if you are talking about any hour after 12 noon, you'll have to indicate, 'in the afternoon' because all the numbers on the clock are used twice in English - morning and afternoon.
Actually, if you're speaking English in continental Europe, you get used to saying, 'I'll see you at 14', because it's easier than having to say 'two in the afternoon.' Europeans are used to the 24-hour clock, so if you tell them, 'I'll see you at 2 o'clock' they will probably tell you they are in bed and you'd better come later.
I'm not sure I've heard anyone say '14 o'clock' though. But just, 'I'll be there at 15:20' or 'My train leaves at 18:03' is common.
In the states, when someone says "two o'clock" pm is assumed. You would be more likely to differentiate by indicating "two in the morning." It would be pretty unusual to say two "in the afternoon" unless it was on a formal invitation or something. And to agree with FBower-no one says "fourteen o'clock." In the military they would say "1400 (fourteen hundred) hours."
For someone who is not native English, not Italian, this sentence and the translation is totally confusing. If this particular sentence is used to describe the time, then the translation shouldn't be a US specific time format. It would be more appropriate to use a translation which is closer to literal translation, like 14 o'clock even if a native English speaker wouldn't say that.
How am i supposed to know this is talking about time? It only means what this says it means given context.