Belgium A to Z – U

U – Uur

The clock. The round ruler which measures our days and indicates us the moment when certain things should take place. Time and clocks are the same everywhere and yet its interpretation can vary so much from place to place. For instance, I’ve gradually moved my normal dinner time from 21h to 19h, for no particular reason, just because that’s how it goes here. This means I rarely leave my workplace after 18h, which is a beautiful thing!

The amusing thing about time here is telling it. The confusion starts with a typical Nengels mistake:

– How late is it?

– Not late at all, we’re right on time!

*confused silent stare*

Dutch time-telling explained. Source: Dutch Language Blog

The confusion continues with how time is told and interpreted. For example, half negen (half nine) is 8.30h. Even worse: “Het is nu vijf over half negen. = It’s five above half nine.” or “Het is nu veertien voor half tien. = It’s fourteen for half ten.” EIGHT THIRTY FIVE AND NINE SIXTEEN, PEOPLE!!

As a result, the number of hours spent in Dutch class devoted to telling the time is exceptionally high for such a simple content. Still, I’ve lost restaurant reservations and have been late to meetings, which has made me weary of “half-something” appointments, especially those made by phone. Good news is: it wasn’t always my fault!

Finally, the word hour – uur – is prone to mispronunciation… I’ll just give you a translated example:

– How late is it?

– Two hookers.

*awkward silent stare*


2 thoughts on “Belgium A to Z – U

  1. Funny post. I just had a discussion about time with my friends from West-Flanders last week. They don’t use “half” either, they just say “8 uur 30”. When they asked me the time and I answered “5 voor half 6” they would take a pause and than comment on my “school way of reading the clock”. They learn it in school and then never use it again. So if you want, you can just use the “8 uur 30” too if you want, just add a little West-Flanders accent to it 😉

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