December is the season for celebrating and also for hearty greeting of See you next year!, especially around 11:50 PM on Dec 31. But recently, the next year phrase came up in a conversation at the end of November that made me give a double take. It was one of those language glitches that helped me understand how semantics works.
Context: Testing a New Online Grading Tool
In my job in Teaching and Learning with Technology, we have been testing a new tool (anonymously called “GradeStuff”) and I wanted to know if it would be available in the new LMS (anonymously called “LMS X”)
Our conversation went something like this:
Scene: Office Cubicle in November 2014
Me: It looks like GradeStuff is working. Did we want to integrate it into LMS X?
Boss: Not yet, but we want to investigate it soon. Let’s talk next year
Me Thought Bubble: How is November 2015 “soon”?
Me: So you mean….
Boss: Let’s talk when we get back in January.
In a moment of clarity, I realized that for me and probably most people next year means “12 months from now (± 6 months)”. In other words, a long way off. But in the New Year’s Day tradition, my boss actually meant next calendar year which happened to be mere weeks away.
Which is why all those Dec 31 greetings are just so cute!