Replies: 28 - Last Post: Feb 20, 2013 11:28 PM Last Post By: Ickel
Feb 1, 2013 3:16 PM
Telling timeThis turned up on another message board.
A basic analog clock, like this.
It has three hands.The issue is, what do you call the three hands?
For the majority, the shortest hand is the "hour hand" or "little hand." The long one is the "minute hand" or "big hand." The red one that moves quickly is the "second hand," because it ticks off seconds.
However, for some people, the short hand is the "first hand." The long one is the "second hand." The red one is the "third hand." e.g.
This, of course, is causing confusion, because "second hand" means different things.
Unfortunately, it's not possible to figure out the countries of the various posters. Some of the "first hand" or "second hand" may be translations into English.
So, I am curious. Where would that red hand be a "third hand" instead of a "second hand"?
Feb 1, 2013 4:45 PM
Feb 1, 2013 4:47 PM
Feb 1, 2013 4:58 PM
Feb 1, 2013 6:21 PM
4However, for some people, the short hand is the "first hand." The long one is the "second hand." The red one is the "third hand."
Who are these people?
You should be asking this on the other forum.
The most common terminology I've heard is hour, minute & second hands.
During the development of the clock, the hands were referred to as hour and minute (not first and second). It's interesting how the second hand became named -- not for measuring seconds, but because a second set of gears was required to drive it.
As a child (under 6 years old), I might have heard them referred to as first, second and third, though big and little was more common at that age.
Feb 1, 2013 11:29 PM
5The short hand - hour hand, long hand - minute hand
and the red hand - is second hand, not new.
I've never heard the hands referred to as first, second and third. As a child when being taught to tell the time, it was the big hand and the little hand. Our clock didn't have a second hand. I don't like watches without the second hand.
Feb 2, 2013 8:45 AM
6I went back and looked at the post. There was two posters who call them first, second, and third hands. One self-identified as being from the US midwest; the other is unknown.
Everyone else said "never heard of that."
There also was a debate over "big hand" and "little hand." Is the "big hand" the fattest one or the longest one?
I got to wondering why the pointing things are called hands. It appears that early mechanical clocks had a single pointer thing that either looked a lot like a hand or was carved as a pointing finger. But I can't find a definitive statement to that effect.
I do like this answer, however.
Hands got their label from ancient time when time was transmitted by "hand" when an individual would hold his arms to represent time based on the face of a clock as we know it. So if he held his arms straight out to his sides and level it would be eiither 9:15 or 3:45 and the difference would be understood by virtue of common sense.
Feb 2, 2013 9:49 AM
7This is why they are called "hands".
Of course, the big hand shows hours, the little hand, minutes.
Feb 2, 2013 6:01 PM
8The paragraph quoted at the end of #6 sounds completely bogus to me.
I get the mpression from the internet that the kind of people who think it's clever to ask "Why do we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway" also think it's clever to ask "Why is the third hand on a clock called the second hand?"
The first (church tower) clocks had no faces at all. A bell (French cloche) struck the hour. But people got into the habit of looking at the works (visible in early clocks) to see how close or far the hour was, and clock designers made it easier for them by adding a face.
Which reminds me that why they are called hands doesn't seem any more mysterious than why the face is called a face. The hands point: a function for which we usually use our hands. The face is called the face because it's the surface in front, the one that gets the most attention. I don't understand people who make a mystery of such things.
Feb 4, 2013 3:33 PM
9Hour hand, minute hand, second hand.
For children, big hand, little hand, (and not worry about second hand).
Never heard them numbered first, second, third.
Feb 4, 2013 3:36 PM
Feb 4, 2013 3:37 PM
Feb 5, 2013 4:27 AM
12I just realised how much my last statement betrays my age. Do people even teach their children to tell time anymore? Younger generations don't even wear watches and just look at their mobile phone to get the time, and the number of analog clocks in public places has certainly declined over the years. Teaching children to tell time from an analog display can't possibly be the priority that it used to be.
Feb 5, 2013 4:43 AM
13.>Younger generations don't even wear watches
The last time my watch battery died, I asked myself why I should get it replaced,and couldn't come up with an answer.
It is a little easier to check the time discreetly with a wrist watch than with a phone, but not enough to justify wearing one.
I must be younger than some people,but not many.
I've seen a lot of new public post clocks in recent years in the US. And central Rome now has several clocks on sidewalk signs, with accompanying advertising, on almost every commercial block. It's true that institutions, e.g. churches, with tower clocks seem to have other priorities than repairing them when they break down.
Feb 5, 2013 8:03 AM
14When my kids were in grade school, a lot of their classmates couldn't tell time on analog watches. They had digital watches, so could they read 18:20 but didn't actually understand that it meant 20 after 6.
I don't wear my watch much any more either, but neither do I carry a cell phone most of the time.
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