It seems like a dumb question as I type it but: what do you think I mean when I say something is going to happen ‘next Thursday’?
I’ve had this argument a few times in the past month. In fact, it’s occurred so often that I’m now sitting here writing this when I should be building a website.
My observation is that ‘next Thursday’ means the coming Thursday except if today happens to be a Tuesday or a Wednesday. Then ‘next Thursday’ actually means a week on Thursday. Today, as I write this, it’s Monday, hence the reason for this blog post. Somebody just told me that our bins will be emptied ‘next Thursday’ and I launched into a rant about how we’ll be swamped with rubbish by then. Of course, they meant this Thursday, which proves my point that on a Monday, ‘next Thursday’ can mean ‘this Thursday’ or ‘a week on Thursday’. There is an ambiguity in our language that it’s hard to explain to non-native speakers. It feels like we should put yellow tape around Mondays and erect a warning sign that there's ambiguity ahead.
Yesterday was Sunday so there was no ambiguity. ‘Next Thursday’ would have meant this coming Thursday. Today, however, it’s all up in the air. I have no idea what people mean when they say ‘next Thursday’. But I sense this is too boring a subject to blog about. I’ll try harder when I write my next blog post, probably next Thursday, whenever the hell that is...