Tag Archives: Post meridiem

A.M. and P.M. In Terms of Time: Do You Still Remember What They Stand For?

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

On Sunday, and I think it might have been on the Bloomberg TV channel, I heard a young reporter talking about the start of the Tampa convention mention something along the lines: ‘… tomorrow at 10 ante meridiem they will gavel open the convention …‘!

Wow. My ears pricked up and my interest was piqued. I, of course, knew what he meant but I hadn’t heard that lovely phrase that just rolls of your tongue in decades!

‘Ante Meridiem’, A.M., AM; Before Midday.

Post meridiem, P.M., PM. After Midday.

I just asked Devanee. I guess they never taught her that in 6 years of schooling. She is very good at guessing. So, ‘PM’ was ‘past morning‘ — which to be fair works. ‘AM’ for after morning, however, didn’t work.

I asked a few others. ‘PM’ was ‘past midday’ — which works.

But, the Latin is so beautiful, as Latin invariably is. Another time related Latin term that we do not give thought to: ‘AD‘ – Anno Domini (AD), after Christ. In my books, influenced by my father (who adopted it in his writings a long time ago he also being very adept at using the Buddhist calendar), I now use CE and BCE more and more, though in my pope books nobody really would have an issue with AD and BC.

[2012 is 2556 in the Buddhist calendar used in Sri Lanka. 56 years ago, in 1956, when I was 3, it was year 2500. Big celebrations right through the year. My father, then 28, was in charge of these celebrations. It was a big deal. People still talk about it. I remember bits of it.]

My only issue with BC and AD is that the dating is wrong — and being the pedantic devil I am, it bothers me to use a designation that is incorrect. For those that are not familiar with this issue (despite it being widely known and discussed), the current scholarly consensus as to when Jesus was born, based on historical studies, is between 6 BC and 4 BC. So, the BC/AD designation per se, per the wording used, is 4 to 6 years out (and that without factoring in all of the confusion caused over the years by us not having started at year zero.). So, an added advantage of the increasingly used BCE and CE, where CE refers to ‘Common Era’, is that it glosses over, kind of fudges, the 4-6 year discrepancy.

Anyway, just wanted to document AM and PM. Another lovely Latin/Italian word that I got to savor this morning, when doing a pope post, was ‘biglietto’ — for ticket.