Author Topic: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not  (Read 17721 times)

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kglory

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #60 on: September 23, 2012, 05:29:52 AM »
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.

I thought of the same example (as another fellow American). 

My guess is that most Americans know that Abe Lincoln said, "Four score and seven years ago..."

But my guess is that a very small percentage of those Americans know what it actually means:  "87 years ago."

It's one of those terms that's fallen out of common usage. So even if somebody remembers a quote with that terms, they may not know what it means or why.

ETA:  One thing I've always wondered (that I guess there is no way to tell, given the lack of video or tape recording back in the day), but did people really talk like characters in old-fashioned literature?  By which I mean 17th, 18th, early 19th century.  Or were those books written for a more highbrow crowd, so the authors tried to "write fancy"?  For example, 87 years ago is so much simpler to say than "four score and seven."  Although it was a political speech, and even today, people don't normally talk like politicians do.  But I'd be curious to learn how people actually did speak.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2012, 05:32:32 AM by kglory »

Barney girl

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #61 on: September 23, 2012, 09:59:01 AM »
It's interesting that in French they still use this pattern; so - quatre vingt sept. - four twenty seven ie 87; or even longer - quatre vingt dix sept - four twenty ten seven - 97. It comes naturally though. You don't need to the sums to work out the number

Ezeesee

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #62 on: October 05, 2012, 02:41:57 PM »
ETA:  One thing I've always wondered (that I guess there is no way to tell, given the lack of video or tape recording back in the day), but did people really talk like characters in old-fashioned literature?  By which I mean 17th, 18th, early 19th century.  Or were those books written for a more highbrow crowd, so the authors tried to "write fancy"?  For example, 87 years ago is so much simpler to say than "four score and seven."  Although it was a political speech, and even today, people don't normally talk like politicians do.  But I'd be curious to learn how people actually did speak.

It's interesting that in French they still use this pattern; so - quatre vingt sept. - four twenty seven ie 87; or even longer - quatre vingt dix sept - four twenty ten seven - 97. It comes naturally though. You don't need to the sums to work out the number

It can be similar in Welsh - to pick a random number, '18' can be said as 'undegwyth', 'tri ar bymtheg', and 'deunaw'. Literally translated, these mean 'one ten eight', 'three on fifteen', and 'two nine'. I hear them all equally often, although the first is the one I'd consider the easiest.

Thipu1

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #63 on: October 06, 2012, 09:52:33 AM »
In the 19th century, particularly in America, oratory was considered a fine art.  Public speeches were intended to be dramatic and melodious.  'four score and seven' sounds much nicer than '87'.  Intone it with a sweeping gesture of one arm and you'll see what I mean. 

In ordinary speech, people probably would have said '87'  but the other style of speech was considered appropriate for a public address.

Rohanna

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #64 on: October 08, 2012, 03:11:19 AM »
Ontario poster here-

Fortnight- maybe 1/4-1/2 of people might know what I meant, probably heavily biased towards older folks and those who read older British lit/watch British shows. I don't think I've heard a non-Brit use it in casual conversation.

Biannual, annual, bi-weekly, acre- yes.

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Ceallach

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #65 on: October 09, 2012, 07:03:17 PM »
Ontario poster here-

Fortnight- maybe 1/4-1/2 of people might know what I meant, probably heavily biased towards older folks and those who read older British lit/watch British shows. I don't think I've heard a non-Brit use it in casual conversation.

Biannual, annual, bi-weekly, acre- yes.

The problem with this is that they have two meanings which are very different:

-Biannual can mean twice per year (every year), or once every second year
-Bi-weekly can mean twice per week (every week), or once every second week

I'm quite curious how people in places where those terms are common avoid misunderstandings!    Is it just based on context?   e.g. it's obvious that you wouldn't get paid twice per week, so if payroll is biweekly you know it's fortnightly?  (every second week).    Whereas with other things it may be more obviously the other way around?    It's not that we don't use the terms here, people do occasionally, but they tends to be discouraged because they're ambiguous.   

Or do they have only one commonly accepted meaning elsewhere so that this isn't a problem?
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Outdoor Girl

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #66 on: October 09, 2012, 07:11:41 PM »
If I say Bi(weekly, annually, whatever) I mean every two of those time periods.

I say twice weekly or twice annually if i mean 2 times in that time period.
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Thipu1

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #67 on: October 10, 2012, 09:25:32 AM »
If I say Bi(weekly, annually, whatever) I mean every two of those time periods.

I say twice weekly or twice annually if i mean 2 times in that time period.

Around here, 'semi' is frequently used to mean twice in a given period.  'Bi' is used to indicate once every other week, month or year. 

lowspark

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #68 on: October 10, 2012, 09:33:48 AM »
Biannual means twice a year.
Biennial means every two years.

But yeah, biweekly can mean either twice a week or every two weeks.
I guess you just have to take the context into account.


jmarvellous

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #69 on: October 10, 2012, 11:06:26 AM »
There's a new U.S. commercial out where a guy in some blue collar job mentions something that you only have to do once a fortnight. Wish I could remember context, but I just remember thinking of this thread.

cabbageweevil

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #70 on: October 14, 2012, 07:04:32 PM »
It can be similar in Welsh - to pick a random number, '18' can be said as 'undegwyth', 'tri ar bymtheg', and 'deunaw'. Literally translated, these mean 'one ten eight', 'three on fifteen', and 'two nine'. I hear them all equally often, although the first is the one I'd consider the easiest.

To paraphrase a favourite author of mine, writing about a "teaser" in the grammar of another language unfamiliar to most of the world's English-speakers: "Discovering that, has suddenly made me very determined never to try to learn Welsh".

(Just kidding  :) -- I love Wales and things Welsh, and have occasionally toyed with the idea of learning the language.)

kareng57

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #71 on: October 15, 2012, 10:40:12 PM »
If I say Bi(weekly, annually, whatever) I mean every two of those time periods.

I say twice weekly or twice annually if i mean 2 times in that time period.

Around here, 'semi' is frequently used to mean twice in a given period.  'Bi' is used to indicate once every other week, month or year.


That's how I've always understood, it, too.  I've never heard of anyone confusing the terms "semi" and "bi".

katycoo

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #72 on: October 16, 2012, 12:39:04 AM »
If I say Bi(weekly, annually, whatever) I mean every two of those time periods.

I say twice weekly or twice annually if i mean 2 times in that time period.

Around here, 'semi' is frequently used to mean twice in a given period.  'Bi' is used to indicate once every other week, month or year.

That's how I've always understood, it, too.  I've never heard of anyone confusing the terms "semi" and "bi".

Bi means 2.  So its not apparent whether you mean "2 times in every" or "once in every 2".  Even a lot of the dictionaries give both options for biannual.

While semi means half, i've never heard it used i any context with respect to distance or time.  So I wouldn't process your intent quickly.  In fact it would even occur to me as a suitable word to use.  I'd probably say half-weekly.

kareng57

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #73 on: October 16, 2012, 12:51:27 AM »
If I say Bi(weekly, annually, whatever) I mean every two of those time periods.

I say twice weekly or twice annually if i mean 2 times in that time period.

Around here, 'semi' is frequently used to mean twice in a given period.  'Bi' is used to indicate once every other week, month or year.

That's how I've always understood, it, too.  I've never heard of anyone confusing the terms "semi" and "bi".

Bi means 2.  So its not apparent whether you mean "2 times in every" or "once in every 2".  Even a lot of the dictionaries give both options for biannual.

While semi means half, i've never heard it used i any context with respect to distance or time.  So I wouldn't process your intent quickly.  In fact it would even occur to me as a suitable word to use.  I'd probably say half-weekly.


That could be, but my understanding is that we were referring to regional usage.  So here, a semi-annual sale means twice a year, and bi-annual would mean once every other year (which would be kind of weird for a store sale, but anyway).

violinp

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Re: S/o of a couple of things - Fortnight: Unusual or not
« Reply #74 on: October 16, 2012, 12:52:17 AM »
If I say Bi(weekly, annually, whatever) I mean every two of those time periods.

I say twice weekly or twice annually if i mean 2 times in that time period.

Around here, 'semi' is frequently used to mean twice in a given period.  'Bi' is used to indicate once every other week, month or year.

That's how I've always understood, it, too.  I've never heard of anyone confusing the terms "semi" and "bi".

Bi means 2.  So its not apparent whether you mean "2 times in every" or "once in every 2".  Even a lot of the dictionaries give both options for biannual.

While semi means half, i've never heard it used i any context with respect to distance or time.  So I wouldn't process your intent quickly.  In fact it would even occur to me as a suitable word to use.  I'd probably say half-weekly.

Not even when stores say "We're having a semi - annual sale"?
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