"Now the 'normal' way (i.e. the way I learnt to do it :-) ) was e.g.
Tha e fichead mionaid gu naoidh / naodh. It's twenty [minutes] to nine.
Tha e fichead mionaid an dčidh naoidh / naodh. It's twenty [minutes] past
nine.(lit. 'after nine')
It appears, however, that some people say, instead:
Tha e streap ri fichead mionaid gu [a] naodh.
It is climbing towards twenty [minutes] to nine.
(It's getting on for / approaching / almost etc.- with the minute hand going
up towards that)
What the writer is driving at is that he heard someone say:
'Tha e streap ri fichead mionaid an dčidh a naodh."'
It is climbing towards twenty [minutes] past nine.
In this instance, of course, the minute hand isn't climbing, but
Mňran taing as an měneachadh. Am bě daoine a' rŕdh, "Tha e ' tuirling [nó
tčarnadh] fichead mionaid an dčidh a naodh"?
Is there also an expression (such as I suggest above) for descending the
clock. I wouldn't have expected the telling of time to be so tied to the
appearance of the clock-face; in other regards I suppose we think of time as
climbing when it is getting later, higher numbers. But then English
speakers are not so specifice in giving the origins when we speak of
direction, up / down / east / west and so-forth, and we find it hard to get
into the habit of distinguishing between a-nios and a-nuas and so forth.
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