A question of time……

Not everyone sees time in terms of past, present and future. The Kipsigis of the Nile region have three types of past tense: today’s past, yesterday’s past and the distant past. Several American Indian languages divide the past tense into the recent past, remote past and mythological past; other languages have different definitions:

pal (Hindi) a measure of time equal to twenty-four seconds
ghari (Hindi) a small space of time (twenty-four minutes)
tulat (Malay) the third day hence
xun (Chinese) a period of ten days (in a month) or a decade (in someone’s life)
jam karet (Indonesian) rubber time (an indication that meetings may not necessarily start on time)

In Hindi, the word for yesterday, kal, is the same as that for tomorrow (only the tense of the attached verb tells you which). And in Punjabi parson means either the day before yesterday or the day after tomorrow.

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