A Unique Method to Read Time in Lingala

As most people in Africa, the Congolese people used to express time based on the sun’s position throughout the day. They divided the day into segments. Each of the segments were associated with a particular event of the day.

Today, the way people read time in Lingala has changed but is still unique. In this article, we’ll explore the concept of time in Lingala, an African language spoken in Central Africa, from its historical roots to the present day. Get ready to discover a whole new way of understanding Lingala time expressions.

Lingala Time Expressions

In ancient time, people saw time differently, guided by the natural phenomena and the sun’s position. The day was split into segments, each connected to the sun’s position:

  • Monyele: rising sun, soft morning sun (at 7 a.m.)
  • Ntóngó saa: dawn sun has risen
  • Ntóngó : morning, sun has risen but not yet at its peak
  • Nzangá : sun that hits hard with its burning rays,
  • Moyékwa: sun starts setting (around 5 p.m.) Sun start setting
  • Eloli: setting sun
  • Matánelo, zenebatu: dusk
  • Mpókwa (pokwa): evening
  • Butú: night

The changing daylight and nightfall is still used to read the time.  The time can be read in two-way: the 12-hour clock format or the 24H format.

To ask for the time, you could say: Tokomi ntángo nini ? It literarily means, “What time are we?” A shorter way to reply could be: “Ngonga ya misatu ebeti ” ( three o’clock has just struck).

Time Expressions on the 12-Hour Clock

Read time in Lingala can be expressed in two ways, including the 12-hour clock format, which has a unique AM and PM distinction. The day is divided into different segments based on the time of day. We’ve compiled a handy summary of these periods along with their translations in Lingala. Check it out!

LINGALATIMELINGALAENGLISH
AM12:00  to 12:59Ntei ya butúMidnight
AM1:00  to 5:59ButúNight
AM6:00  to 11:59NtóngóMorning
PM12:00  to 12:59NzangáNoon
PM1:00  to 4:59Nsima ya nzangáAfternoon
PM5:00  to 7:59MpókwaEvening
PM8:00  to 11:59ButúNight

From 1:00 to 5:59 AM, it’s still considered night because close to the equatorial line, it remains dark. Around 6:00 AM, the sun starts rising, marking the morning. Similarly, evening begins around 5:00 to 6:00 PM when the sun sets. To fully understand Lingala time, you should also learn some expressions that add to the art of reading time.

To express some parts of the day like o’clock and half an hour, you need to use specific suffix as below

TIMELINGALAENGLISH
00 minNtá ngongaO’clock
30 minEtéi ya ngongaHalf an hour

Time Expressions on the 24-Hour Clock

The 24-hour format follows a similar structure as the 12-hour clock for the AM part, between 1 AM to 11 AM. However, from 13:00 onwards, there’s no need to specify the moment of the day as it becomes clear to people.

LINGALATIMEENGLISH
Ntei ya butú 00:00  to 00:59Midnight
Butú1:00  to 6:59Night
Ntóngó7:00  to 11:59Morning
Nzangá12:00  to 12:59Noon
13:00  to 23:59

Learn to Read Time

Read time in Lingala is quite straightforward. However, you need to know how to count from 0 to 59, please refer to our article on how to count in Lingala, and the vocabulary mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Time in AM – PM Format

The common pattern for reading time is the below

  • Ngonga ya + Hour + NA +Minutes  + period of the day.

Nevertheless, there are some exceptions, as seen below.

ENGLISHTIME
NoonNgonga Ya + Noon + ná +Minutes
MidnightNgonga Ya +Midnight + ná +Minutes
O clock timeNgonga Ya + Hour + ná +Clock+ Period Of The Day
Half an hourNgonga Ya + Hour + ná +Half An Hour + Period Of The Day

Here is the translation in Lingala

LINGALATIME
NzangáNgonga ya + Nzangá + ná +Miniti
Ntei ya butuNgonga ya + Ntei ya butu + ná + Miniti
Nta ngongaNgonga ya + Hour + ná + Nta ngonga + period of the day
Etei ya ngongaNgonga ya + Hour + ná + Etei ya ngonga + period of the day

Unlike in English, there’s no specific way to say “past” or “to” when you read time in Lingala. It’s a unique aspect of the language that makes it even more interesting to explore. So next time you’re telling the time in Lingala, you won’t need to worry about using “past” or “to” like you do in English. Happy learning!.

Examples of How to Read Time in Lingala during AM – PM

  • 12:00 AM: “Ngonga ya ntei ya butú”
  • 12:25 AM: “Ngonga ya ntei ya butú ná miniti ntúkú míbalé ná mítáno na butú””
  • 12:30 AM: “Ngonga ya ntei ya butú ná etéi ya ngonga “
  • 12:45 AM: “Ngonga ya ntei ya butú ná miniti ntúkú mínei ná mítáno na butú””
  • 02:00 AM: “Ngonga ya mibale nta ngonga
  • 02:25 AM: “Ngonga ya mibale ná miniti ntúkú míbalé ná mítáno na butú””
  • 02:30 AM: “Ngonga ya mibale ná etéi ya ngonga “
  • 02:45 AM: “Ngonga ya mibale ná miniti ntúkú mínei ná mítáno na butú””
  • 10:00 AM: “Ngonga ya zomi  nta ngonga na ntóngó
  • 10:25 AM: “Ngonga ya zomi ná miniti ntúkú míbalé ná mítáno na ntóngó
  • 10:30 AM: “Ngonga ya zomi ná etéi ya ngonga na ntóngó
  • 10:45 AM: “Ngonga ya zomi ná miniti ntúkú mínei ná mítáno na ntóngó
  • 12:00 PM: “Ngonga ya nzangá”
  • 12:25 PM: “Ngonga ya nzangá”ná miniti ntúkú míbalé ná mítáno
  • 12:30 PM: “Ngonga ya nzangá” ná etéi ya ngonga “
  • 12:45 PM: “Ngonga ya nzangá” ná miniti ntúkú mínei ná mísato
  • 02:00 PM: “Ngonga ya mibale nta ngonga na nsima ya nzangá “
  • 02:25 PM: “Ngonga ya mibale ná miniti ntúkú míbalé ná mítáno na nsima ya nzangá “
  • 02:30 PM: “Ngonga ya mibale ná etéi ya ngonga na nsima ya nzangá “
  • 02:45 PM: “Ngonga ya mibale ná miniti ntúkú mínei ná mítáno na nsima ya nzangá “
  • 05:00 PM: “Ngonga ya mitano nta ngonga na nsima ya nzangá “
  • 05:25 PM: “Ngonga ya mitano ná miniti ntúkú míbalé ná mítáno na nsima ya nzangá “
  • 05:30 PM: “Ngonga ya mitano ná etéi ya ngonga na nsima ya nzangá “
  • 05:45 PM: “Ngonga ya mitano ná miniti ntúkú mínei ná mítáno na nsima ya nzangá “
  • 10:00 PM: “Ngonga ya zomi  nta ngonga na butú
  • 10:25 PM: “Ngonga ya zomi  ná miniti ntúkú míbalé ná mítáno na butú
  • 10:30 PM: “Ngonga ya zomi  ná etéi ya ngonga na butú
  • 10:45 PM: “Ngonga ya zomi ná miniti ntúkú mínei ná mítáno na butú

Time in 24H Format

The Lingala time structure is similar to AM for the 12-hour clock. However, from 13:00 onwards, it becomes simpler. There’s no need to add the period of the day any more at the end.

Examples of How to Read Time in Lingala during 24H

As written above, before noon, read time in Lingala in the 24H is the same pattern as the AM. Starting from 13:00, there is no need to state the period of the day.

  • 14:00 PM: “Ngonga ya zomi ná minei nta ngonga
  • 14:25 PM: “Ngonga ya zomi ná minei ná miniti ntúkú míbalé ná mítáno
  • 14:30 PM: “Ngonga ya zomi ná minei ná etéi ya ngonga  
  • 14:45 PM: “Ngonga ya zomi ná minei ná miniti ntúkú mínei ná mítáno

Conclusion

Now you’ve got the hang of reading time in Lingala! We are sure this article will be helpful on your journey to mastering this skill. It might seem a little tricky at first, but with some practice, you’ll be a pro in no time. If you have any questions or uncertainties, feel free to check out our handy time converter in Lingala here. Happy learning!

How do you feel reading time in Lingala now? Did you know that there were two ways of saying time in Lingala? Let’s start the discussion in the comments section!

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