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Matt Pearson wrote:
> Reminds me of how we tell time after the half hour:  Rather than "three
> quarters after eight" we say "a quarter to nine".  Then there's languages
> where 8:30 is "half nine" - i.e. halfway to nine.

Not to mention "20 till nine" rather than *"a third to nine".  Twenty
minutes is one-third of an hour, so it would be one-third of an hour
till nine, but we just don't say it, yet "half to nine" and "quarter to
nine" are perfectly grammatical.

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