Discussion:
within six months of
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Quinn C
2017-10-11 02:05:40 UTC
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A certain government application requires to include a photograph
taken "within six months of the date of the application."

At first, that confused me, because I'd say the usual reading of
that is "in the 6 months *after* the date". Then I convinced
myself that it could probably be interpreted as "between 6 months
before and 6 months after the date", but it still feels weird to
explicitly allow photos from the future.

Or have I just overlooked so far that sometimes "within [period]
of X" refers strictly to a time period before X?
--
Manche Dinge sind vorgeschrieben, weil man sie braucht, andere
braucht man nur, weil sie vorgeschrieben sind.
-- Helmut Richter in de.etc.sprache.deutsch
GordonD
2017-10-11 12:30:56 UTC
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Post by Quinn C
A certain government application requires to include a photograph
taken "within six months of the date of the application."
At first, that confused me, because I'd say the usual reading of that
is "in the 6 months *after* the date". Then I convinced myself that
it could probably be interpreted as "between 6 months before and 6
months after the date", but it still feels weird to explicitly allow
photos from the future.
Or have I just overlooked so far that sometimes "within [period] of
X" refers strictly to a time period before X?
I could fill in and date the application form, leave it lying in a
drawer for a couple of months until I got round to obtaining a
photograph, then submit them. The photo would then have been taken two
months after the date of application...
--
Gordon Davie
Edinburgh, Scotland
b***@aol.com
2017-10-11 14:24:13 UTC
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Post by Quinn C
Post by Quinn C
A certain government application requires to include a photograph
taken "within six months of the date of the application."
At first, that confused me, because I'd say the usual reading of that
is "in the 6 months *after* the date". Then I convinced myself that
it could probably be interpreted as "between 6 months before and 6
months after the date",
From there, "between 6 months before _or_ 6 months after the date" isn't
too much of a stretch.
Post by Quinn C
but it still feels weird to explicitly allow
Post by Quinn C
photos from the future.
Or have I just overlooked so far that sometimes "within [period] of
X" refers strictly to a time period before X?
I could fill in and date the application form, leave it lying in a
drawer for a couple of months until I got round to obtaining a
photograph, then submit them. The photo would then have been taken two
months after the date of application...
--
Gordon Davie
Edinburgh, Scotland
Quinn C
2017-10-11 16:50:16 UTC
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Post by b***@aol.com
Post by Quinn C
A certain government application requires to include a photograph
taken "within six months of the date of the application."
At first, that confused me, because I'd say the usual reading of that
is "in the 6 months *after* the date". Then I convinced myself that
it could probably be interpreted as "between 6 months before and 6
months after the date",
From there, "between 6 months before _or_ 6 months after the date" isn't
too much of a stretch.
Except that your phrasing isn't interpretable English for me, and
I can't imagine what you wanted to express that is different from
the version with "and".
--
Press any key to continue or any other key to quit.
b***@aol.com
2017-10-11 17:19:56 UTC
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Post by Quinn C
Post by b***@aol.com
Post by Quinn C
A certain government application requires to include a photograph
taken "within six months of the date of the application."
At first, that confused me, because I'd say the usual reading of that
is "in the 6 months *after* the date". Then I convinced myself that
it could probably be interpreted as "between 6 months before and 6
months after the date",
From there, "between 6 months before _or_ 6 months after the date" isn't
too much of a stretch.
Except that your phrasing isn't interpretable English for me, and
I can't imagine what you wanted to express that is different from
the version with "and".
The idea was "within a period up to six months before the date" or "within
a period up to six months after the date", where the period can be of
6 months or of 12 months (if "or" is inclusive), as opposed to "within a period up to six months before the date" and "within a period up to six
months after the date, where the period is necessarily of 12 months.

Granted, it's not what the wording actually says, but I thought it would
be understandable.
Post by Quinn C
--
Press any key to continue or any other key to quit.
Peter Duncanson [BrE]
2017-10-11 16:09:35 UTC
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Post by GordonD
Post by Quinn C
A certain government application requires to include a photograph
taken "within six months of the date of the application."
At first, that confused me, because I'd say the usual reading of that
is "in the 6 months *after* the date". Then I convinced myself that
it could probably be interpreted as "between 6 months before and 6
months after the date", but it still feels weird to explicitly allow
photos from the future.
Or have I just overlooked so far that sometimes "within [period] of
X" refers strictly to a time period before X?
I could fill in and date the application form, leave it lying in a
drawer for a couple of months until I got round to obtaining a
photograph, then submit them. The photo would then have been taken two
months after the date of application...
Yes, but..
I think the office receiving the application would consider the "date of
application" to mean "the date of applying" i.e. the date that the form
is received. The process of "application" is the act of submitting the
form. Until the form has been submitted you haven't applied, regardless
of when you filled in the form and what date you put on it.
--
Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.usage.english)
Quinn C
2017-10-11 16:12:44 UTC
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Post by GordonD
Post by Quinn C
A certain government application requires to include a photograph
taken "within six months of the date of the application."
At first, that confused me, because I'd say the usual reading of that
is "in the 6 months *after* the date". Then I convinced myself that
it could probably be interpreted as "between 6 months before and 6
months after the date", but it still feels weird to explicitly allow
photos from the future.
Or have I just overlooked so far that sometimes "within [period] of
X" refers strictly to a time period before X?
I could fill in and date the application form, leave it lying in a
drawer for a couple of months until I got round to obtaining a
photograph, then submit them. The photo would then have been taken two
months after the date of application...
I assumed that the date of application wasn't the date filled, but
the date submitted. I guess that's also just one interpretation.
--
Performance: A statement of the speed at which a computer system
works. Or rather, might work under certain circumstances. Or was
rumored to be working over in Jersey about a month ago.
Don Phillipson
2017-10-11 12:59:45 UTC
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Post by Quinn C
A certain government application requires to include a photograph
taken "within six months of the date of the application."
At first, that confused me, because I'd say the usual reading of
that is "in the 6 months *after* the date". Then I convinced
myself that it could probably be interpreted as "between 6 months
before and 6 months after the date", but it still feels weird to
explicitly allow photos from the future.
Or have I just overlooked so far that sometimes "within [period]
of X" refers strictly to a time period before X?
Very few simple words or phrases in English refer _strictly_
and unambiguously to anything. This language often requires
context for at least part of its meaning.

This feature appears to be normal in many other languages as well.
Dissatisfaction with it is the common element underlying classic
investigations of logic (among the Socratic Greeks, the mediaevals
(Barbara Celarent) and moderns (cf. Polish Notation.)
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
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