Author Topic: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not  (Read 17349 times)

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JonGirl

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #45 on: September 11, 2012, 06:32:07 AM »
Another Aussie on the completely normal side. It's as common as week or month over here.


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Julian

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #46 on: September 15, 2012, 08:49:30 PM »
... 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.

 ;D  That would be me...  I just found this thread. 

Fascinating, isn't it, how countries with similar original language and roots can develope such different regional vocabularies?




Dindrane

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #47 on: September 15, 2012, 11:29:31 PM »
I'm pretty sure that fortnight used to be more commonly used in the US, but it has fallen out of use in the past century or so. So to an American, probably the best comparison is the word "score" to mean "20." That was also in common use, particularly to describe years or age, a century ago. But except for the famous Gettysburg Address that begins "Fourscore and seven years ago," most Americans would never have any reason to know what it means.

With fortnight, I do agree that anyone who has had even a moderately rigorous education in literature in high school will have encountered the word. Not everyone would know what it means, but it does come up in both British and American literature. If my education is an example of anything, I had a year of American-focused literature and a year of British-focused literature, with a smattering of both mixed in to the other two literature classes I took in high school, and the vast majority of the assigned books were written at least 100 years ago.

So I'd personally find it weird for someone to argue the word doesn't exist at all, but I would find it equally weird to hear it in normal conversation.


Slartibartfast

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #48 on: September 16, 2012, 12:52:52 AM »
I expect the majority of Americans could tell you a fortnight has something to do with time, but most couldn't tell you the exact definition.  Same with stone, furlong, knot, acre, etc.  I only know the first two because I read a lot of British books when I was a kid and the third because I read a lot of horse books  :P  I think I'd be hard-pressed to actually define an acre or a knot in terms of other measurement, although I know what things they're usually used to measure.

Then again, a significant percentage of Americans don't know how many states there are in the US, how many planets there are in the solar system, which direction Canada is, the metric system, the difference between "their" and "there," etc. so I wouldn't place a lot of trust in what "most Americans" know  ::)
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 12:56:02 AM by Slartibartfast »

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #49 on: September 16, 2012, 11:16:59 AM »
I expect the majority of Americans could tell you a fortnight has something to do with time, but most couldn't tell you the exact definition.  Same with stone, furlong, knot, acre, etc.  I only know the first two because I read a lot of British books when I was a kid and the third because I read a lot of horse books  :P  I think I'd be hard-pressed to actually define an acre or a knot in terms of other measurement, although I know what things they're usually used to measure.

Then again, a significant percentage of Americans don't know how many states there are in the US, how many planets there are in the solar system, which direction Canada is, the metric system, the difference between "their" and "there," etc. so I wouldn't place a lot of trust in what "most Americans" know  ::)

I'm suprised you included acre in this group.. While I don't believe most Americans ca define the number of square feet in an acre, I think they are well aware of what it is and even a general idea of how large it would be.  I hear the word frequently.  Knot is also common in the nautical world, but if your not into sailing I wouldn't expect any one to know more than that it's used to measure boat speed.  But I agree that stone is uncommon and furlong only heard in horse racing.

Yvaine

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #50 on: September 16, 2012, 11:19:48 AM »
I expect the majority of Americans could tell you a fortnight has something to do with time, but most couldn't tell you the exact definition.  Same with stone, furlong, knot, acre, etc.  I only know the first two because I read a lot of British books when I was a kid and the third because I read a lot of horse books  :P  I think I'd be hard-pressed to actually define an acre or a knot in terms of other measurement, although I know what things they're usually used to measure.

Then again, a significant percentage of Americans don't know how many states there are in the US, how many planets there are in the solar system, which direction Canada is, the metric system, the difference between "their" and "there," etc. so I wouldn't place a lot of trust in what "most Americans" know  ::)

I'm suprised you included acre in this group.. While I don't believe most Americans ca define the number of square feet in an acre, I think they are well aware of what it is and even a general idea of how large it would be.  I hear the word frequently.  Knot is also common in the nautical world, but if your not into sailing I wouldn't expect any one to know more than that it's used to measure boat speed.  But I agree that stone is uncommon and furlong only heard in horse racing.

I don't know how big an acre is off the top of my head, other than that it's used to measure land, often farmland. It falls into the same category as knots for me--I know what it's for, but not how much it actually is.

Sharnita

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #51 on: September 16, 2012, 11:50:22 AM »
I assume Yvaine is an urban dweller where home owners might buy lots that are much smaller than an acre or even a half acre.  Where I grew up most people owned land in acres - not just farmers.  You might have 2 wooded acres and one acre of lawn.  It was not unheard of for people to have 10, 20 or 40 acres even if they weren't farmers.

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #52 on: September 16, 2012, 02:35:42 PM »
Like Yvaine, I also know "acre" as very abstract idea of a "big piece of land"; I don't actually have a clear idea in my how big an acre is.

I am an urban dweller who has also spent of time in the suburbs and even when I out in more rural areas I was more used to plots "in town" instead of the big pieces of land with acres of lawn.  More like 1/4 acre plots at most, or even plots so small acre is irrelevant.  I grew up in a neighborhood with "big" yards, our plots were 2560 square feet (80 x 40), I just googled an acre is 43560 square feet, so the whole thing, including the house was 1/17 of an acre - I can't casually picture in my mind an acre in just lawn.

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #53 on: September 16, 2012, 02:39:52 PM »
The only time I use the word is when I'm referring to speed in terms of "furlongs per fortnight."
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jmarvellous

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #54 on: September 16, 2012, 05:56:26 PM »
I've never heard "furlongs per fortnight" and could only guess it means something happening slowly.

I just asked my well-educated BF who reads pretty much constantly, and he had no idea how long a "fortnight" might be. Interesting. I would guess most people I know who don't read non-American, non-new literature often or who aren't editors would not know what a fortnight is.

Diane AKA Traska

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #55 on: September 16, 2012, 06:00:34 PM »
Like Yvaine, I also know "acre" as very abstract idea of a "big piece of land"; I don't actually have a clear idea in my how big an acre is.

I am an urban dweller who has also spent of time in the suburbs and even when I out in more rural areas I was more used to plots "in town" instead of the big pieces of land with acres of lawn.  More like 1/4 acre plots at most, or even plots so small acre is irrelevant.  I grew up in a neighborhood with "big" yards, our plots were 2560 square feet (80 x 40), I just googled an acre is 43560 square feet, so the whole thing, including the house was 1/17 of an acre - I can't casually picture in my mind an acre in just lawn.

I can... we're looking at houses, and one we wanted (which, sadly, got snapped up) was 0.94 acres.
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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #56 on: September 21, 2012, 01:58:04 AM »
I assume Yvaine is an urban dweller where home owners might buy lots that are much smaller than an acre or even a half acre.  Where I grew up most people owned land in acres - not just farmers.  You might have 2 wooded acres and one acre of lawn.  It was not unheard of for people to have 10, 20 or 40 acres even if they weren't farmers.

I grew up on 50 acres (and no we weren't farmers!) so I have a fair idea of how much that is.   Despite that, I still have no idea how much 1 acre is.    That's probably more because I'm not a numbers person though!   I don't think I knew how many inch were in a foot properly until I was nearly an adult.  I use google or iphone apps to convert units of measure for me! 

But I concur with everybody else.  Fortnight really is a normal, everyday word here.  I can't imagine having to say "every two weeks" it would be much less convenient.   ;D    And of course, "bimonthly" has two meanings so is a little ambiguous. 
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Decimus

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #57 on: September 21, 2012, 11:48:57 AM »
It's been pretty well covered but -- yes, as an American I'd find fortnight a very unusual word.  I'd never hear it spoken except on BBC-America or other British programs, and I wouldn't use it in writing, although it might appear in older texts.  I'm familiar with "fortnight" from British literature but although I thought I was pretty well-read until this thread I'd never seen "fortnightly" as a word.  I'd use biweekly instead.  If I was going away for two weeks I'd say "I'll be gone two weeks."  Which does seem shorter to me since "two weeks" is two syllables but "a fort/night" is three.

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #58 on: September 22, 2012, 07:06:55 PM »
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Iris

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #59 on: September 22, 2012, 07:47:25 PM »
Furlongs per fortnight: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FFF_system

You know, I actually thought that was a bit cheeky, given that fortnight is still used widely in many parts of the world, as evidenced from this thread. It's no more silly a unit of time than a week, really.

Furlongs and Firkins you can have, though  :)
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