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fortnights - almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea
if I had to explain, you wouldn't understand
dakegra
dakegra
fortnights

A discussion this morning threw up the interesting titbit of info:

Apparently Americans don't use the word 'fortnight' to describe a two-week period.

We then got onto the meaning of the word 'bi-weekly', and whether it means twice a week, or every two weeks.

 

So, dear reader:

If you are American - do you know what I mean by 'fortnight', and would you use it in regular everyday use?

What do *you* understand by the term 'bi-weekly'?

 

Thoughts, comments, questions and suggestions onna postcard to the usual address...

Posted via email from dakegra.net

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Comments
bloodlossgirl From: bloodlossgirl Date: January 18th, 2011 11:43 am (UTC) (linky)
I know what you mean by 'fortnight' because I've read a fair amount of British literature - but no, I don't use it in everyday usage. "Bi-weekly" is used here to indicate something that happens every two weeks (at least, I have always heard it used so, and never to indicate something that happens twice a week). Oh, the English language!
dakegra From: dakegra Date: January 18th, 2011 11:47 am (UTC) (linky)
further investigation reveals that bi-weekly can be taken to mean every two weeks, or twice a week.

One place suggested using 'semi-weekly' to mean twice a week. Whereas I'd use 'twice a week'

Even 'twice-weekly' is better than 'semi-weekly', imho.

:-)
takarosa From: takarosa Date: January 18th, 2011 11:48 am (UTC) (linky)
I know what a fortnight is due to being well read. But I don't commonly use it because I fear I'd have to explain it to 75% of the people who might hear me.

Bi-weekly is generally used to mean twice a week, but has, on rare occasion, described something that happens twice a week. This ambiguous terminology has always been annoying and I will question it every time I come across it.

Perhaps I will start using 'fortnight' more often and start a revolution. I hear those used to work well for us.
dakegra From: dakegra Date: January 18th, 2011 12:13 pm (UTC) (linky)
all of the online dictionaries I've checked offer both definitions of bi-weekly - twice a week and every two weeks. Most confusing.

See if you can get 'fortnight' into a conversation today.
veronikos From: veronikos Date: January 18th, 2011 12:00 pm (UTC) (linky)

American

I know fortnight, and would use it in everyday parlance. The first American dictionary, by Noah Webster and published in 1828, contains it.

The root bi- means "two." So, biweekly means occurring every two weeks. The root semi- means "half." So semiweekly means every half-week, or, in other words, twice per week.
dakegra From: dakegra Date: January 18th, 2011 12:12 pm (UTC) (linky)

Re: American

interestingly, both Merriam-Webster and Chambers both offer bi-weekly as meaning *either* every two weeks, or twice a week.
maviscruet From: maviscruet Date: January 18th, 2011 01:04 pm (UTC) (linky)

Re: American

Semi with bi-yearly. Which either means twice a year OR once every two years. Which as you say - very different things...

Oddly that's been bugging me recently...
dakegra From: dakegra Date: January 18th, 2011 01:26 pm (UTC) (linky)

Re: American

it's been bugging me for *years*
veronikos From: veronikos Date: January 18th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC) (linky)

Re: American

Which, to me, proves only that errors may creep into references. Who offers biweekly as meaning "twice per week" does so only because he does not know that "semiweekly" is the word he is looking for. :D

Edited at 2011-01-18 02:54 pm (UTC)
kniblet From: kniblet Date: January 18th, 2011 12:28 pm (UTC) (linky)
Biweekly is, indeed, used interchangeably for both meanings here, although more often to denote every two weeks. Whenever "biweekly" meetings are being scheduled, I have to check.
dakegra From: dakegra Date: January 18th, 2011 01:26 pm (UTC) (linky)
annoying, isn't it?
astillac From: astillac Date: January 18th, 2011 12:46 pm (UTC) (linky)
I know what fortnight means, but don't use it, nor have I heard others use it in everyday language. Bi-weekly I would take to mean every two weeks. However, bi-monthly I would think "twice a month", which, following my own logic, makes no sense.

Strange! :D
dakegra From: dakegra Date: January 18th, 2011 01:27 pm (UTC) (linky)
I think I'd go with your interpretation - whenever someone says something happens bi-monthly, I'd automatically assume they meant every two weeks.
miss_t_ide From: miss_t_ide Date: January 18th, 2011 01:01 pm (UTC) (linky)
When I went to the USA in the sixth form (that's going back a bit!), we went for a fortnight. I soon learned to say, when asked, that we were staying for two weeks as I was met with blank looks if I said "fortnight". Interestingly, we (on this side of the pond) seem to have dropped the equivalent word for a week; sennight.
dakegra From: dakegra Date: January 18th, 2011 01:27 pm (UTC) (linky)
ooh, sennight is a good word. I like it.
magda_vogelsang From: magda_vogelsang Date: January 18th, 2011 01:04 pm (UTC) (linky)
I'm with most of those here, in that I know the term fortnight, but don't use it regularly (though I might do so in and SCA context, since most others there would know the term).

And I would use bi-weekly to mean every 2 weeks, just like a bicentennial means something is 200 years old. But I have seen it used to mean twice a week,which I find annoying.
dakegra From: dakegra Date: January 18th, 2011 01:28 pm (UTC) (linky)
irritating, isn't it? Wish they'd just pick one definition and stick to it.
caitirin From: caitirin Date: January 18th, 2011 01:53 pm (UTC) (linky)
Just echoing others, I know what a fortnight is but I never hear it used around here.

Biweekly to mean means every other week. Or every two weeks. I've never heard anyone use it to mean twice a week, but I'm sure they do :)
genevra From: genevra Date: January 18th, 2011 03:55 pm (UTC) (linky)
Same as everyone else here, I completely understand the word 'fortnight', but it isn't part of my daily vocabulary. We tend to just say 'two weeks'.

As for 'bi-weekly', it takes me a minute to think about, but it does mean 'every two weeks'. Many companies do payroll on a bi-weekly schedule. Twice a week would be 'semi-weekly'.
erikaerin From: erikaerin Date: January 18th, 2011 04:38 pm (UTC) (linky)
We don't use the term fortnight here and I doubt that many people really understand what it means here in the US. I know what it means, but certainly wouldn't use it in regular every day use because too many people wouldn't know what I was talking about.

We use the term bi-weekly and to us, that means every other week. In other words, if someone put out a newsletter and they published it bi-weekly, that would mean that it came out every two weeks, or every other week. Same thing with bi-monthly. Every two months; every other month.
elaby From: elaby Date: January 19th, 2011 12:28 am (UTC) (linky)
When I hear "fortnight", I usually think "that's fourteen days, right?" I for some reason never broke that down to two weeks *laughs* But I've never heard someone over here use it in conversation.

Upon hearing "bi-weekly," I would probably ask whether the speaker meant once every two weeks or twice a week XD Because I can never be sure!
whimsywinx From: whimsywinx Date: January 19th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC) (linky)
I'm American, and while I know what fortnight means, I wouldn't use it in every day conversation.

Bi-weekly is tricky, but I usually think of it was once every two weeks.
boliviafang From: boliviafang Date: January 19th, 2011 03:22 am (UTC) (linky)
I understand fortnight to be two weeks, but I never use it. And without overthinking it, I would assume bi-weekly meant every other week.

"Every other week" being the phrase I use, I now find myself puzzling over whether bi-weekly would really mean twice a week...

But then this can only lead to the interminable and unsolvable "this Saturday" versus "next Saturday" discussion. So I'm going to bed.
dakegra From: dakegra Date: January 19th, 2011 09:13 am (UTC) (linky)
oh, but that's so much fun!

F'rinstance, if it's a sunday or a monday, then 'next saturday' is the first saturday coming up. From about tuesday onwards, 'next saturday' is most likely to be the saturday following the first aaturday, whereas the first saturday becomes 'this saturday'

However! on monday, 'this saturday' can also be the next saturday chronologically. ie. the first saturday coming up.

easy, really. No scope for confusion. No sirree.
boliviafang From: boliviafang Date: January 19th, 2011 01:18 pm (UTC) (linky)
*rolls over and goes back to sleep*
dakegra From: dakegra Date: January 19th, 2011 01:26 pm (UTC) (linky)
*prod*

*poke*

*prodprodprod*
boliviafang From: boliviafang Date: January 19th, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC) (linky)
*burrowing*
dakegra From: dakegra Date: January 19th, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC) (linky)
*waves coffee*
svenskakj From: svenskakj Date: January 19th, 2011 12:12 pm (UTC) (linky)
Yes, I do know the term fortnight, but it has not been used on an everyday basis here for, perhaps, a century.

Bi-weekly typically means 'every two weeks.' :-) However, it can mean 'twice a week.' For instance, in the case of a pregnancy and its check-ups, it would probably mean twice a week. In the case of paychecks, every two weeks.
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