I have recently heard a lot of people (most of whom have learned English as a second language) use the phrase "I slept at 9 o'clock" instead of "I went to bed at 9 o'clock" or "I fell asleep at 9". I was wondering if there was any idea as to the origin of this phrase.

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    Here's a similar question on ELL. The consensus there is that "I slept at 10" is wrong in AmE. The asker says that this phrasing is common in India. – DCShannon Mar 20 '15 at 21:29

It doesn't sound at all odd to me.

At seven I ate dinner, and at nine I slept.

While laughably untrue, this is grammatically correct, and the sense is clear. If you look at the native language of a non-English speaker who says it this way, you'll probably find that the typical way of expressing the sense is I slept rather than I fell asleep or I went to bed, that's all. (I know this to be the case in Chinese, for example.)

  • That's the idea I had too. I'm pretty sure it has to do with how it is said in Korean. I was mostly just curious if there were another origin or something else to it. – Annika Peterson Jun 22 '11 at 5:10
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    Though the sense is clear in the above example, a related phrase can cause some confusion: I have noticed that some non-native English speakers (primarily those whose first language is Chinese) will use "I slept late" to mean that they went to bed late, whereas to me "I slept late" can only mean that I woke up late. – Jon Jun 22 '11 at 6:25
  • @Jon: Good point. And actually, the Chinese phrase in question, though idiomatic, has roughly that literal translation. – Jon Purdy Jun 22 '11 at 6:29
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    A) It sounds super odd. B) No idea what you mean by "laughably untrue". C) The sense is not clear. – DCShannon Mar 20 '15 at 21:31
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    @DCShannon: I keep odd hours. And I agree that there are situations where it’s ambiguous or doesn’t convey the intended meaning, and those are “incorrect” in some sense, but there are also situations in which it’s totally cromulent. – Jon Purdy Mar 20 '15 at 23:32

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