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2010-05-24 - 13:39:00 - by AlisonW - Topic: Meta: thoughts |

Listening to the radio last night I was reminded of something I was taught when I first worked in the theatre industry. The news announcer at 1am started off with "The time is 1am … good morning" yet, I suspect, few of us would consider the middle of the night to be 'morning'. Indeed if you switch across to the television services operated by the same broadcaster you will hear "Good evening" and "good night" well into the small hours as they consider the post-midnight hours as art of the day before rather than the start of the oncoming day.

Working in the entertainment industries it is often the case that you will end up finishing a show post midnight, indeed a get-out might not finish until 2am or later. But – I was taught – because one always wants to be able to say "Good Morning!" to colleagues the first time you say hello to them each day many theatre workers consider that the day starts and finishes at 04:44 (expect that as nobody likes Mondays they finish at midnight making Monday a short day and Tuesday a long day!)

All this also brings to the fore the lack of terminology we have in the English language for times of day. "Afternoon" is fairly clear as being the time after 'noon' (which is, strictly speaking, when the sun is at its zenith so in the UK at the moment that is 1pm not midday) but when – exactly – does 'afternoon' end and 'evening' begin? 5pm? 7pm? But if 'evening' takes us up to midnight, with afternoon and evening sharing that twelve hours, 'morning' to cover an entire twelve hours all by itself seems … excessive.

There are the church's divisions of the day by times of prayers, and even the watches on a ship divides the day, but there doesn't seem to be an accepted colloquial terminology. 'Early morning' to one person might be 3am but to another (like me some days!) would mean 8am. And if 'mid-morning' is elevenses what is left for 'late morning'?



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