BootsnAll Travel Network

When is “next Saturday”?

Once again, I find myself confused by the difference between the way I use the expression “next Saturday” and the way that other people do.  I would think that it’s just me, except that now and then I run into someone else who uses the expression the same way that I do.

Just to explain.  I think that most of use know when “last Saturday” was.  Just to be specific, today is Thursday, May 15.  So “last Saturday” was the most recent Saturday–that is, May 10.  Similarly, “this Saturday” is pretty clear–it’s the day after tomorrow, May 17.

 But when it comes to “next Saturday”, to me it means the next Saturday after “this Saturday”–that is, May 25.  The place that the communication breaks down seems to be that most people use “next Saturday” as a synonym of “this Saturday” in this case.  I’ll admit that I recognize that it’s a problem for me, so when I’m making plans, I usually try to include a date, just so no one gets surprised.

You may think that I’m just over-intellectualizing.  It seems to me that there’s a window into the much deeper question of how we manage to communicate across the barrier of separate consciousnesses.  There always has to be an agreement about what we’re talking about.

I was surprised to read some novels about life in the British navy in the 1800s that at the time, the day started at noon [rather than midnight] with the astronomical observation of the sun.  And, when I was in college and was regularly staying up past midnight, the group collectively defined “tomorrow” as “after one sleep or after 6 a.m., whichever comes first”.  In this case, as a group, we came to a definition that worked better for our situation.  The trick, I guess, is to identify those circumstances where we need to explicitly make clear how we’re using language.

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One Response to “When is “next Saturday”?”

  1. Other Countries, Other Customs–Obama and TUCC » TravelBlog Archive » Music of the Tigers Says:

    […] When I’m in a different country, it’s easy for me to remember that I need to “translate” the customs in order to understand what’s going on.  The more difficult task is when I’m here in San Francisco, and realize that I’m having an interaction across a culture barrier.  Even little things like “Next Saturday“. […]

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