Thursday, April 17, 2008

Biweekly: A Useless Word

It's the little unexplainables that drive me insane.

From Merriam-Webster:

Pronunciation: \bī-wē-klē\
Function: adjective
1 : occurring twice a week
2 : occurring every two weeks : fortnightly

And of course, the same double meaning applies for "biannually." And "bimonthly." By extension, in one out of every four cases, "biweekly" and "bimonthly" mean essentially the same thing.

How often does the Benevolent Order of Butt Plug Manufacturers convene to discuss the future of the industry?

Biannually, you say??? Great! Now I've got it narrowed down to either once every two years, or four times every two years. Thanks for nothing.

How did this happen? Isn't this what we have lexicographers for? To fill in gaps? Screen out bullshit? Lend some fucking clarity to our backwards language? I'm not trying to do anyone's job here, but what about adding "diweekly," "dimonthly," and "diannually" to our canon? One prefix for over, one for under. I'll even let you assign which is which. What, would half a million words, plus three more, be too many?

I can't do my job as a writer if those maintaining the English language don't do theirs. Until this insult to intelligence is rectified I'm on strike.

Whoever is responsible for this, identify yourself immediately, and take your punishment like a man.


Amanda said...

So in what context in your writing did you need to describe the frequency of the event?

Strike? Sounds like a big fat excuse to me!

By the way this has nothing on Americanisms. Just don't get me started on that.

J. Rosemary Moss said...

Lol, Jim. Unlike France, no English speaking country has an Academy to regulate language. So if you want to introduce a new prefix to describe twice a week/month/year as opposed to every two weeks/months/years you'll have to just start using the term and hope that it catches on!

That said, I like the idea of the prefix 'di.' If you start using it, I will ;)

Lyman said...

Actually, biennially is the current standard for an event occurring every two years.

However there is absolutely no excuse for words like bimonthly and biweekly.

When you find who is responsible send them my way after you're done so "I'z ken ruff dem up a bit, too."