The six-hour clock is a traditional timekeeping system used in the Thai and formerly the Lao language and the Khmer language, alongside the official 24-hour clock. Like other common systems, it counts twenty-four hours in a day, but divides the day into four quarters, counting six hours in each. The hours in each quarter (with the exception of the sixth hour in each quarter) are told with period-designating words or phrases, which are:[1]

  • ... mong chao (Thai: ...โมงเช้า, [mōːŋ tɕʰáːw]) for the first half of daytime (07:00 to 12:59)
  • Bai ... mong (บ่าย...โมง, [bàːj mōːŋ]) for the second half of daytime (13:00 to 18:59)
  • ... thum (...ทุ่ม, [tʰûm]) for the first half of nighttime (19:00 to 00:59)
  • Ti ... (ตี..., [tīː]) for the second half of nighttime (01:00 to 06:59)

These terms are thought to have originated from the sounds of traditional timekeeping devices. The gong was used to announce the hours in daytime, and the drum at night. Hence the terms mong, an onomatopoeia of the sound of the gong, and thum, that of the sound of the drum. Ti is a verb meaning to hit or strike, and is presumed to have originated from the act of striking the timekeeping device itself.[2] Chao and bai translate as morning and afternoon respectively, and help to differentiate the two daytime quarters.

The sixth hours of each quarter are told by a different set of terms. The sixth hour at dawn is called yam rung (ย่ำรุ่ง, [jâm rûŋ]), and the sixth hour at dusk is called yam kham (ย่ำค่ำ, [jâm kʰâm]), both references to the act of striking the gong or drum in succession to announce the turning of day (yam), where rung and kham, meaning dawn and dusk, denote the time of these occurrences. The midday and midnight hours are respectively known as thiang (เที่ยง, [tʰîaːŋ], or thiang wan, เที่ยงวัน, [tʰîaːŋ wān]) and thiang khuen (เที่ยงคืน, [tʰîaːŋ kʰɯ̄ːn]), both of which literally translate as midday and midnight.[1]

Midnight is also called song yam (สองยาม, [sɔ̌ːŋ jāːm]; note that yam is a different word), a reference to the end of the second three-hour period of the night watch (song translates as the number two). In addition, hok (6) thum and ti hok may also be used to refer to the hours of midnight and dawn, following general usage for the other hours, although more rarely; and the fourth to sixth hours of the second daytime half may also be told as ...mong yen (...โมงเย็น, [mōːŋ jēn]), yen meaning evening.

The system has been used in some form since the days of the Ayutthaya Kingdom,[citation needed] but was codified similarly to its present form only in 1901 by King Chulalongkorn in Royal Gazette 17:206.[3] Nowadays, it is used only in colloquial speech. However, a corrupted form of the six-hour clock is more frequently encountered,[2] where usually the first half of daytime (including the sixth hour of the preceding quarter) is counted as in the twelve-hour clock, i.e. hok (6) mong chao, chet (7) mong, etc., up to sip et (11) mong.

The six-hour clock system was abolished in Laos and Cambodia during the French protectorate, and the French 24-hour clock system (for example, 3h00) has been used since.

Clock format edit

A comparison of the systems is as follows:

Meaning 6-hour Modified 6-hour 24-hour 12-hour
1 early morning ตีหนึ่ง ti nueng ตีหนึ่ง ti nueng 01:00 1:00 am
2 early morning ตีสอง ti song ตีสอง ti song 02:00 2:00 am
3 early morning ตีสาม ti sam ตีสาม ti sam 03:00 3:00 am
4 early morning ตีสี่ ti si ตีสี่ ti si 04:00 4:00 am
5 early morning ตีห้า ti ha ตีห้า ti ha 05:00 5:00 am
6 in the morning ตีหก,
ti hok,
yam rung
ti hok,
hok mong chao
06:00 6:00 am
1 in the morning โมงเช้า mong chao เจ็ดโมง (เช้า)* chet mong (chao)* 07:00 7:00 am
2 in the morning สองโมงเช้า song mong chao แปดโมง (เช้า)* paet mong (chao)* 08:00 8:00 am
3 in the morning สามโมงเช้า sam mong chao เก้าโมง (เช้า)* kao mong (chao)* 09:00 9:00 am
4 in the morning สี่โมงเช้า si mong chao สิบโมง (เช้า)* sip mong (chao)* 10:00 10:00 am
5 in the morning ห้าโมงเช้า ha mong chao สิบเอ็ดโมง (เช้า)* sip et mong (chao)* 11:00 11:00 am
midday เที่ยงวัน thiang wan เที่ยงวัน thiang wan 12:00 12:00 pm
1 in the afternoon บ่ายโมง bai mong บ่ายโมง bai mong 13:00 1:00 pm
2 in the afternoon บ่ายสองโมง bai song mong บ่ายสองโมง bai song mong 14:00 2:00 pm
3 in the afternoon บ่ายสามโมง bai sam mong บ่ายสามโมง bai sam mong 15:00 3:00 pm
4 in the afternoon บ่ายสี่โมง bai si mong บ่ายสี่โมง** bai si mong** 16:00 4:00 pm
5 in the afternoon บ่ายห้าโมง bai ha mong บ่ายห้าโมง** bai ha mong** 17:00 5:00 pm
6 in the evening หกโมงเย็น,
hok mong yen,
yam kham
หกโมงเย็น hok mong yen 18:00 6:00 pm
1 at night หนึ่งทุ่ม nueng thum หนึ่งทุ่ม nueng thum 19:00 7:00 pm
2 at night สองทุ่ม song thum สองทุ่ม song thum 20:00 8:00 pm
3 at night สามทุ่ม sam thum สามทุ่ม sam thum 21:00 9:00 pm
4 at night สี่ทุ่ม si thum สี่ทุ่ม si thum 22:00 10:00 pm
5 at night ห้าทุ่ม ha thum ห้าทุ่ม ha thum 23:00 11:00 pm
midnight หกทุ่ม,
hok thum,
thiang khuen,
song yam
hok thum,
thiang khuen
12:00 am
* The word chao (เช้า) is optional here since the numbers 7 to 11 are not used elsewhere
** Conversationally, si mong yen (สี่โมงเย็น) and ha mong yen (ห้าโมงเย็น) are also spoken if considered as evening

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Royal Institute (2003). พจนานุกรมฉบับราชบัณฑิตยสถาน พ.ศ. 2542 [Royal Institute Dictionary B.E. 2542] (in Thai). Bangkok: Nanmee Books. ISBN 974-9588-04-5..
  2. ^ a b Thongprasert, Chamnong (1985), "ทุ่ม-โมง-นาฬิกา (Thum-Mong-Nalika)", ภาษาไทยไขขาน (Thai Unlocked), Bangkok: Prae Pitaya Press, pp. 229–237, archived from the original on 2009-07-26. (in Thai)
  3. ^ "ประกาศใช้ทุ่มโมงยาม" (PDF), Royal Gazette, no. 17, p. 206, 29 July 1901, archived from the original (PDF) on June 9, 2012, retrieved 2008-10-18. (in Thai)