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July 01, 2006


Robbie Williams

You can use "this january" to refer to the january past, right? e.g. "I was doing metaphysics in leeds this january".

I'm not sure whether using "next sunday" in the way you describe is the most common usage. E.g. I'm very much tempted to describe the sunday that's between 7 and 14 days in the future as "the sunday after next". Presumably that's elliptical for "the sunday after next sunday". That phrase certainly doesn't refer to the sunday that's between 14 and 21 days in the future!

I guess then the puzzle becomes: how to make sense of the reading of "next sunday" where it refers to what you say it does.

Here's one thought: you can say "Billy was at the head of the queue. Next came Suzy. Next came Miranda. ...". So "next" is picking up the person *in line behind the person just mentioned*.

Maybe in a context where you've just mentioned the coming sunday as "this sunday", "next sunday" is picking up the sunday *immediately after the day just mentioned*. And perhaps this would predict that "next sunday" in discourse-initial position would pick out the sunday *immediately after now*.


Hi Robbie -

Here's something semi-amusing: tonight a non-Philosopher was telling me about an upcoming outdoor art show, which will take place next Friday. Wondering how long it'll be until then, I took a second to figure out what day of the week today is. Then I did a double-take. "By 'next Friday', did you mean tomorrow?!" Looking slightly appalled, she replied, "No, that's _this_ Friday." She looked even more taken aback when, rather than responding abashedly, I instead broke out into a grin, pointed my finger at her, and loudly and triumphantly exclaimed: "Ha!"

She was happier when I told her about your post and said I'd offer this as a bit of evidence against your claim about the abnormality of her language usage.

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