So how long is "not long" anyway?
3 May 2013
The term "not long" is a rather relative one. And the actual length-of-time answer to the question also depends largely on the exact "how long" question that has been asked.
And I suppose the same fluidity can be applied to the terms “quickly”, “soon”, “just now”, “now-now”, “in a minute”, “nearly” and “almost”. Rather vague descriptions, sort of related to time.
I know exactly how foggy these words can be, because on occasion, I have blatantly abused this fogginess to my very own advantage.
And so to give you an example, if one of my kids should ask, "when is supper ready?", then most often, the answer is "soon". See, delightfully vague. Depending on what I’m cooking and how far I am, “soon” could mean five minutes or an hour.
However should I ask them to fetch their school bags, which they dumped in the kitchen when they got home from school, and their answer is "soon", I somehow don't find it that delightful at all. Then I expect “soon” to be within the next ten seconds, before I blow a head gasket.
So perhaps, it’s all about perspective and which side of the fence you’re on, so to speak. Personally, I think that “now-now” has to be one of the very best words out there. Firstly, the word “now” can be fluid and vague. And then, by simply adding an additional “now”, you’re able to step things up a notch. Or should I rather say “step down”?
As for “in a minute”, it has nothing to do with actual seconds and minutes on a clock. Why, at times “in a minute” can actually mean more like in an hour.
And so, perhaps in order to clarify, we should add a distinctive phrase at the end of our “loose-time” related questions and answers. In fact, I think it might prove to be an unparalleled success.
For example, should my kids ask me on a car journey how long before we reach our destination, then I could answer, “we’re-nearly-there-mom-time”. Which means, we are getting closer and will be there within about five to ten minutes time. However, should my answer be, “we’re-almost-there-mom-time”, it means that we’ll be there before you have the chance to ask me again. Confused yet? Hey, it could work. Give it some “time”.
And in the same vein, if I ask Luke to get off his PlayStation and he should answer, “now-now”, it means, “as soon as I’ve finished this soccer match”. See, perfectly understandable. Should I ask Amber to practice the piano and she says, “in a minute”, it means, “as soon as I’ve finished doing this far more important and exciting thing I’m doing right now”. And should I ask Cole to quickly jump through the shower and he says, “just now”, it means “as soon as I’ve finished playing with the dogs and playing soccer in the garden”.
In which case it is just as well that I am fluent in Luke, Amber and Cole. However, being the parent, I still have the opportunity to be dictatorial and a tyrant. Ordering them to stop what they are doing immediately and listen to me at once. Whether I’d be successful, is another matter altogether.
Which leads to another question. One my kids seem to ask me rather regularly. "Mommy, how long as you still going to be on your blog?".
In which case, the answer quite obviously is, "not long...".