The world's first Swahili clock
February 25, 2008 8:01 AM Subscribe
posted by derangedlarid (26 comments total)
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The Kamusi project
, an online Swahili-English dictionary site, has created the world's first clock that tells Swahili time
. Not to be confused with the conceptual clocks of Tibor Kalman
, like the Five O'Clock Clock
, or Kalman's jumbled time clock tower
The Swahili clock reflects an actual conceptual change that takes place for Swahili speakers. In Swahili culture the day starts at sunrise (unlike in the Arab world where the day starts at sunset, and in the Western world where the day starts at midnight).
Sunrise in East Africa, being exactly at the Equator, happens every day at approximately 6:00 a.m. And for that reason, 6:00 a.m. is "0:00 morning" Swahili time. So the hands of a watch or clock meant to read Swahili time would always point to a number opposite to the number for the actual time as spoken in English. That is, the Swahili time anywhere in the world (not just East Africa) is delayed by 6 hours.
Therefore 7:00 a.m. is "1:00 morning" (saa moja asubuhi) Swahili time; midnight is "6:00 night" (saa sita usiku) Swahili time. 5:00 a.m. is "11:00 early morning" (saa kumi na moja alfajiri) Swahili time.
Note also that the Swahili time doesn't use "noon" as the reference as in a.m. (before noon) and p.m. (after noon). The time is spoken using "alfajiri" which is the early morning time during which the morning light has started to shine but the sun has not risen yet; "asubuhi" which is the morning time between sunrise and a little before noon; "mchana" which is from around noon to around 3:00 p.m.; "alasiri" which is from around 3:00 p.m. to sunset; "jioni" which is the entire time period from around 3:00 p.m. up to a little before 7:00 p.m.; and "usiku" which is the entire time period from around 7:00 p.m. to early morning.