Author Topic: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not  (Read 16258 times)

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Iris

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S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« on: September 08, 2012, 08:52:07 PM »
Reading the facebook comments on the Dear Prudence column last week two separate posters commented on a letter writer who'd used the word "fortnight" with quite a bit of hostility. One said that they'd "poke" her and the other accused her of being pompous. At the time I thought it was weird, and also weird that no other commenters asked what on earth was wrong with them, but I just figured we'd all gotten clever about not feeding trolls. :) Now in the "They looked at me funny..." thread another poster has said that they had to *explain* the word fortnight to someone while travelling in the US.

So my question is - is fortnight a 'big' or unusual word where you come from? The above things really surprised me. I would have thought using the word 'fortnight' was no more unusual than using the word 'week' - or 'food' or 'shoe' or 'duck' for that matter  ;). It's just another word to me, one that I would have expected to be in pretty much everyone's vocabulary.
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Betelnut

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2012, 08:57:27 PM »
People in the U.S. don't use that word--it would only be familiar to those of us who read British literature.  We would never use it in conversation.  Never.
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Sharnita

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2012, 09:02:37 PM »
People in the U.S. don't use that word--it would only be familiar to those of us who read British literature.  We would never use it in conversation.  Never.

It is pretty much like talking about weight in "stone".  To be honest I think a lot of people might find it a bit pretentious coming from another American.

oz diva

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2012, 09:03:50 PM »
In Australia it's absolutely common, I wouldn't think a thing about someone saying I'll see you in a fortnight then. But I do know that it's not used in the States.

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HorseFreak

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2012, 09:07:45 PM »
I'm in the US and have only heard the word used in literature. It's considered a "big" word that you may seem a tad pretentious using in regular conversation. I'm around 30 and I'm very aware of the definition, but those from a younger generation or who don't read much may not know what it means.

Sharnita

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2012, 09:12:57 PM »
I don't know that I'd say it is a big word but rather that it overly complicates things.  If I talk about time I say that it took a week or I will see you for a week.  It seems kind of silly to switch from talking about week(s) to fortnight.  It lacks continuity.

baglady

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2012, 09:40:42 PM »
It isn't used in the U.S. I only know it from British literature and songs. I'll occasionally throw such Britishisms as "loo" and "telly" into my own speech for variety, but I don't do that with "fortnight."
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violinp

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2012, 09:42:34 PM »
I'm American, and I use it sometimes, but not often. I don't see it as pretentious, but it's just not a word I hear every day.
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Outdoor Girl

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2012, 09:44:45 PM »
Those of us in North America who read British literature are used to reading 'fortnight' and 'stone' but they aren't words we use here, even north of the border where we have a closer tie to the UK.
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Yvaine

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2012, 09:57:55 PM »
It is definitely not used in conversation in my area (midwestern US). I think I learned it from a book of fairy tales, and to this day I've mostly seen it in the fantasy fiction I've read. It's a word you might use when you're writing, to sound pretty and old-timey, but if you dropped it into conversation, probably only the avid readers would even know how many days you meant.

Yvaine

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2012, 09:59:26 PM »
I don't know that I'd say it is a big word but rather that it overly complicates things.  If I talk about time I say that it took a week or I will see you for a week. 

Or two.  ;D

MummyPumpkin83

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2012, 10:01:21 PM »
I don't know that I'd say it is a big word but rather that it overly complicates things.  If I talk about time I say that it took a week or I will see you for a week.  It seems kind of silly to switch from talking about week(s) to fortnight.  It lacks continuity.

and see for me at least as an aussie it is completely "continuous" to say will you stay a week or a fortnight? everyone knows 2 weeks = fortnight and fortnight is quicker to say.
Also you get your government payments "fortnightly"
when you use the online Australian government tax calculator you can select that you get paid "weekly", "fortnightly" or "monthly".
If you rent your house the amount you pay is a "per week" amount, but again you can negotiate to pay it "weekly", "fortnightly", or "monthly". - actually most repayments to banks I think you can elect one of the three options above.

until e-hell i didn't realise "fortnight" was such an unusual word. it is used so often here.

also now I have written it so many times it looks very weird :)
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Sharnita

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2012, 10:07:06 PM »
I don't know that I'd say it is a big word but rather that it overly complicates things.  If I talk about time I say that it took a week or I will see you for a week. 

Or two.  ;D

Yeah, I meant to say that when I'm talking about a week I say a week so when I extend that into two weeks it seems strange to alter that to fortnight.  I would continue to use the same measurement that I'd use for a smaller amount of time.  Going from one week to fortnight for two weeks seems like I am shifting usage.

as far as being quicker to say, fortnight and two weeks are both two syllables. " I will see you in two weeks" is actually a tiny bit quicker than"I will see you in a fortnight"

MrsJWine

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2012, 10:07:13 PM »
I'm in the US. I'm not sure I've ever heard it in conversation, but I see it in writing all the time. Not just in British literature or older books, either.


I have a blog.  I hate that word.


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Iris

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2012, 10:22:37 PM »
I don't know that I'd say it is a big word but rather that it overly complicates things.  If I talk about time I say that it took a week or I will see you for a week. 

Or two.  ;D

Yeah, I meant to say that when I'm talking about a week I say a week so when I extend that into two weeks it seems strange to alter that to fortnight.  I would continue to use the same measurement that I'd use for a smaller amount of time.  Going from one week to fortnight for two weeks seems like I am shifting usage.

as far as being quicker to say, fortnight and two weeks are both two syllables. " I will see you in two weeks" is actually a tiny bit quicker than"I will see you in a fortnight"

Wow. How interesting this is. I had no idea. Not to pick on you at all Sharnita, just using your post as a random example, but it is so common here (Australia) that *to us* saying it's confusing to change from weeks to fortnights would be like saying it's confusing to change from 500 grams to half a kilo.

Then again I can remember my grandmother explaining 'old' currency to me and I thought it was insanely complicated and difficult whereas she was like "It's no big deal" so I guess it's what you're used to.
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