To whom it may concern:
I will defend that noon is 12:00 PM and midnight is 12:00 AM. I believe that there is an educational problem due to a misinterpretation of the Latin terms and thus, a geographical misconception results. The vast majority of cultures outside of Asia honor solar versus lunar systems and English culture recognizes the sun due to religious symbolism. When the moon rises or sets fails to matter since we are more focused with solar time, as human beings are generally diurnal in nature.
In English, a.m. means "before midday", which comes from the Latin "ante meridiem" and viceversa, p.m. would mean "after midday" with the Latin being "post meridiem".
A certain solar and lunar phenomenon reflects this idea: in the diagram found at the following URL:
http://www.englishclub.com/vocabulary/t ... -night.htm
, noon and midnight are represented by a vertical line running down the y-axis while sunrise and sunset would be represented by a horizontal line running across the x-axis: solar time. According to the seasonal time of the year, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West around the globe. In the Northern Hemisphere, at noon, the sun indicates due South while at midnight, the moon also points out due South. In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite would be true with the sun and moon pointing towards North.
Logic would argue that the sun rises before the sun passes the merdian overhead and that the sun sets after the sun passes the same zenith. I point out that the aforementioned diagram also mistakenly reflects that a person would encounter more than one meridian since the moon would pass the same zenith overhead in the sky.
Linguistically, I would argue that this question is just confusion, generated from a poorly constructed diagram, between the semantics of "before" and "after". Midnight, the start of a new day, and noon are definitely occur before the sun passes the meridian: one milisecond after noon would be after the sun passes the zenith while one nanosecond after midnight would still be before the sun passes the same imaginary zenith. To end this debate, I would like to point out that the etymology of the word "noon" comes from the Latin ordinal number "nona" for the ninth hour after sunrise: hence PM.
At the time of English cultural development, religious dualism with binary forces greatly affected the development of the English language:
a.m.. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved August 24, 2006, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=a.m.&x=0&y=0
noon. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved August 24, 2006, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=noon&x=0&y=0
Eric Paul Monroe