The confusion of some words in counting time

ABCDE...I mean 12345

ABCDE…I mean 12345

See you next week…

It starts like this on a telephone call:

“Hi Scott!  Great speaking with you.  Let’s get together sometime next week.”

Click.  The inevitability of the ‘dictionary of logic’ creeps into my mind.  I seem to think that I have a decent understanding of the English language, with all its nuances included.  However, what do I make with that statement?

So lets say that conversation took place on Saturday.  If so, that is the seventh day of the week.  Does the caller mean that he would like to see me starting the next day?  I don’t think so?  He would have simply said, “I will like to see you tomorrow.”  However, according to my analytical thinking, he could mean as soon as Tuesday.  Nah!  He would have just probably said Tuesday.  Maybe it is as late as Saturday?  Well technically I think I would be making a rational interpretation.  However, it could easily have meant the ‘following’ week as well.  What a loophole created for non-committed people!

I really hate ambiguities.  Even when they are not meant, it leaves me with doubt in my head because of the sloppiness of the English language , or more probably the sloppiness in how we use it.

Please return within three days…

This one bothers me to no end.

I am speaking with customer service and they say that the product I bought can be cancelled in 3 days. That sounds good on paper!  But wait, another wonderful loophole is in store for me.  I don’t know if I want to keep the subscription to Sub-Saharan Life Magazine for the full year.  Perhaps I just wanted to get a little information on the subject and felt like I did not need to get the entire year’s worth of information on how to build a desert structure to withstand a sandstorm?

Now what do I do?  In English, when does the counting start?  Another math problem to solve before my credit card is going to be charged $139.99 for the year?

According to my logic, if I called on Monday, three days would be Thursday? But is that accurate?  Lets say I called at 9:00am Monday?  Wouldn’t the clock start at that time?  According to that logic, if I called to cancel at 4pm Thursday, I would be past the exact meaning of the word ‘days’ and be in my 79th hour.  I learned at a young age that a day is 24 hours.  Correct?  Ok…then using my second grade math skills, I count on my fingers (wait, that wont work…I only have ten of them) 72 hours and come up with 9am Thursday.  Boom!  I am now screwed and will need to pay for the Sub Saharan Life Magazine for an entire year!

Making matters even worse, why can’t we include the day that we called as day one?  Then, day two is Tuesday and day three is Wednesday.  And what time do I need to call on day three to ensure that the customer service agent hasn’t left her desk yet?  Help me please!  My mind is spinning like a dreidel right now!

Twice a week or once every two weeks?….

Now this last one ‘takes the cake.’ By the way, Why do we take cake?  Some people, I would assume, prefer pie! What about people who are on diets?  Can they take something that would satisfy their needs?

Getting back to the subject at hand.  This one is a doozy that is actually purposely ambiguous in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.  I have never seen a word that can have two totally opposite meanings that are both equal in context.  Please put on your harness belt and pull snugly for this one.  I am sure that you will want to take a hammer to your head and bang hard enough to cause slight discomfort, but not too long to cause bleeding from the brain.

It goes like this:

‘Hey Jennifer, I would like to continue these meditation classes on a bi-weekly basis.”   I say “Great!” See you next week.”

At this point, she hears but does not listen.  Now it is not her fault.  She was brought up in a part of the U.S., I guess, that construed ‘bi-weekly’ as once every two weeks.  I was brought up on the South Shore of Long Island with those who speak a completely different language all together!  You know, “Like…..ahhh…I gotta go to da docta lata in da day and get a wawt removed.”  Never mind the ‘bi-weekly’ mishap, I am still dealing with pronunciation!

Now the dictionary also give me some credit for my interpretation of ‘bi-weekly.’  It actually says it could be “twice a week” or “once every two weeks!”  Time to get the metal dental pick and agitate my inflamed gums!  I am all screwed up now!

In England, Australia and New Zealand, they use the word “fortnightly” to mean once every two weeks.  I always knew the British might be more astute than us with the English Language.  For gods sake, they invented it!  So why oh why did we need to be so pompous and change what clearly works?

In our English, I plan to write a bi-weekly blog.  Now guess what I mean?  Twice a week or fortnightly?


3 replies »

    • I cannot believe that we can have a term that can be interpreted two ways in the same context? One would think that we would have come to a consensus on choosing the correct meaning my now. How many mistake have been made in meetings and un-met expectations with this double meaning? Bi-weekly needs to have a national vote on its meaning!

      Liked by 1 person

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