JWG (jwg) wrote,

English sentence comprehension

Shortly before the 2004 motss.con in Jacksonville (October) I emailed a certain person (to be known in the rest of this document as CP and nothing more to protect his or her identity) suggesting traveling to the con. CP replied in email dated Oct 6, 2004 with the following sentence:
I'll go to the con the year after the Red Sox win the World Series.
The Red Sox did win the 2004 World Series and therefore anyone reading this sentence would interpret it to mean that CP had committed to attend the 2005 con (which was in Vancouver). As evidence that CP understood this meaning, sometime during 2005 prior to the con a remotely plausible excuse was expressed due to a possible conflict. Consequently CP did not attend the Vancouver con (July 2005). There was no attendance by CP to either the 2006 con in Minneapolis or the 2007 con in Palo Alto. I vaguely recall a similar statement about a conflict for the 2007 con, but none such for 2006; in these cases my memory of statements expressed by CP may not be completely accurate, but it was clear to me that CP understood that there was an attendance commitment by the fact that reasons for not going were expressed.

Now as most people know, the Red Sox also won the 2007 World Series. It seems quite clear from the statement by CP dated Oct 6, 2004 that attendance at the 2008 con is a consequence even had it not been true that the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.

In a recent discussion about plans for attendance at the 2008 con (date and place not yet determined), CP claimed that the year after doesn't necessarily mean the year immediately after and therefore there was no commitment to attending the 2008 con.

Making such a statement clearly indicates that CP still retains a general comprehension of the meaning of the earlier cited statement including the conclusion that indicates a commitment of con attendance.

That sets the stage for continued focus on the meaning of the. I see absolutely no ambiguity in the interpretation of the year to be the year immediately following the winning of the World Series. Had the wording been a year or some year then the commitment could be interpreted for any future year. Since it had neither of those words and explicitly used the year it is quite clear to any observer that it means next year and not some undefined, ambiguously specified future year.

According to the American Oxford Dictionary widget on my iMac, the second bullet of definition 1 for the says:
used to refer to a person, place, or thing that is unique.
This gives extra credence to the thought that it means a specific year and not just some year which would not be unique.
Bullet 3 says: (with a unit of time) the present; the current.
Definition 1 of after in this dictionary says during the period of time following (an event)
In this case the event is the Red Sox win the World Series and the period of time following this event is the next year. So here we have more evidence as to the meaning of this very clearly stated sentence made by CP on October 6, 2004.

We are expecting to see CP at the 2008 motss con.
Tags: baseball, humor, motss-con

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