Wednesday, November 07, 2018

AVI Language Experiment

I am going to try and find if there is any language research on this, but in the meantime, I'm interested in what your usage is.  You can disguise your age by a decade or two if you like, but as you will see, it would have to be a whole decade.

I went to college 1971-1975.  I say I went to college in the "early 70's." For K-12, especially K-8 (which we called "grammar school," not "elementary school" back then), I say "I went to school in the 60's" even though I started in 1958 and finished in 1971. For highschool,1967-71, I think I use the cumbersome "late 60's, early 70's" though I believe I avoid that altogether and just say "I graduated in 1971." What do you call the years you were at school?  Don't fret if highschool and/or college don't fit into those neat four-year packets in your life, or they are complicated by putting immediate grad school onto the end of your undergrad, or technical school straight after highschool. That will just be part of understanding people's framing.  I am looking for what people call early, mid, late, and what they summarise with a whole decade, as in "but then I went back to college in the '90's."

If it seems pertinent to the language question, feel free to expand your answer.

16 comments:

Unknown said...

For me, "early" represents my high-school years, graduating in June of the 4th year of a decade.

I immediately started a 4-year undergraduate degree, September of 19x4 to June of 19x8; and I find myself calling it "mid" for the experience as a whole, but "late" when I'm talking about economic, political, and personal circumstances I experienced upon the transition of student to employed adult. but I'm sure that there's at least one "I started college in the early x0s" with x4 counting as "early' for me.

Douglas2

Boxty said...

I graduated high school in '88 so I'd write that I went to h.s. in the '80s and college in the '90s.

I think there's no apostrophe after the decade according to the AMA writing guide but that may have changed between our generations of schooling. I only learned of it recently.

Christopher B said...

Started kindergarten in 1967 and graduated high school in 1980, so I should say the 1970s but for some reason I think more of my college years/early adult years in the 1980s when asked about schooling. I tend to think the years from 1945 until say 1999 actually break more at the 5s as eras than at the 0s, i.e. 1965 was more like 1975 than 1979 seems a continuation of 1970.

Donna B. said...

We're near the same age, but I would say "late 60s" for high school and "early 70s" for college. "Early 60s" is the term I use to describe elementary school, which was called "grade school" in the region where I lived in those days. Elementary school was K-6, junior high was 7-8 ("mid 60s), and high school 9-12. I'm much more likely to use years with a modifier for the 0s, such as "around 2005".

GraniteDad said...

I always say "I graduated in 1997." I don't think in swathes of a decade, I don't think. I just think of it as the years themselves. With college I'm not entirely sure. I would say "I graduated in 2001" I think. Mostly I talk about the cell phone divide- that's more useful to me. It was in college that people really started getting cell phones, but not that many, so it was still "a thing." Also, I graduated right before 9/11, so that's impactful as a dividing line.

HMS Defiant said...

There is no easy for me at school til college. I specify the years and don't much generalize the school year. First grade was Kansas, 2nd was Annandale public, 3rd/4th private, 5th and 6th Fort Riley, Kansas, 7th Newport public, 8th Newport catholic, 9-11 were Huntsville High, 12th some troll school in New Jersy. I live with a woman who attended schools at the same place all her life.

Others have school friends, I have people I may have known. None of them are friends into this life.

bs king said...

My high school career was 1995-1999, but I would probably say that anything that happened to me in high school happened in the late 90s. Anything in my freshman or sophomore year is probably more accurately "mid-90s", but I doubt I'd make the distinction immediately if I was retelling a story.

My college years I seem to refer to more as individual years, and a bit more like Granite Dad. I'd say "I graduated in 2003" or "my sophomore year, so 2001 or so". I think this comes mostly from moving dorms/housing every year, so each year seems very distinct in my mind.

My high school structure is probably part of why I think of high school as one big lump, as it was a tiny school and I had almost all the same teachers/same 25-30 classmates all 4 years. There's very little concrete to hold on to to figure out if something happened sophomore year vs junior year for example, as the setting was identical in almost every aspect.

Texan99 said...

1960 was kindergarten for me! High school and college were right in the 70s: 1971 to 1978. Law school was early 80s: 81-84.

james said...

Grade school was early to mid 60's. (It is kind of jumbled up--partly California and partly Africa--home school and 2 other schools.) High school: similarly jumbled--"I graduated in '73," since that's a neat marker.
Milestones are easier to remember than intervals.

Grim said...

I think I would tend to give precise years for graduation. I round a bit when saying how long ago it was. “20 years ago” might cover 18-23 years ago, but at some point it becomes “25 years ago.”

Sam L. said...

HS was cusp of the '60s. College early to mid-'60s. Military, late '60s and on.

Boxty said...

So what's the conclusion to your experiment, or was it a ruse to find out our ages? :)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Boxty - as you can see, people are much more varied in their descriptions than I thought. Because I myself think in the framing "early, mid, late," I thought that would be common. It isn't. In this small sample people are also likely to simply specifiy a graduation, or to go for a whole decade as their description if enough schooling fit into it. Inconclusive.

It came up because of Christine Blasey Ford saying "mid-80s" when careful tracing showed she must be talking about 1982, which seemed to some people to be an inconsistency. As I was exactly a decade earlier for my college years, I thought "early" would be more accepted - because that's what I do myself. However, I did acknowledge even before asking all of you that if your graduation year ends in a 5 that is going to be how you sometimes refer to those years, and that's as "mid" as you can get. So I was thinking I was going to give Ford a pass on that unless there was strong evidence otherwise. There wasn't. She went to HS 1981-85 and called 1982 "mid," while I would say "early." But there is no clear trend showing she's wrong or confused.

Boxty said...

I'm terrible about remembering when past events occurred so it didn't bother me. I was more struck that her entire internet history was scrubbed. Someone said it had to be done at the Google level to be that thorough. And also her comment that her "beach friends" convinced her to come forward. What a curious way to refer to your friends, eh? It later came out from her ex-boyfriend that her "beach friends" was none other than the FBI lawyer Ford coached on passing a polygraph test and whose house she vacationed at while writing her letter to Congress. Ford testified she had no help in writing the letter while staying with her "beach friends" who was a former FBI lawyer.

Texan99 said...

The internet-scrub was a big red flag for me. If I had heard only her testimony, and Kavanaugh had refused to testify in response, I wouldn't have been very skeptical, necessarily, although I still would have the problem of a 50-year-old woman still so traumatized by an event that's so ordinary I can't think of a single acquaintance who hasn't experienced worse. But the internet scrub, the political stakes, the vagueness of the particulars, the late memory-recovery stuff--all that was fishy even if you discount all the new stories about her FBI friends. On the whole now, I learn toward fraud rather than mistake. And maybe I'll never be sure, but I'm completely sure there wasn't a good enough showing to derail the confirmation. Kavanaugh has too solid a record of adult life for me to spend another minute wondering what he might have been like as a teenager, even if I weren't sure about some aspect of Ford's story. The other allegations, of course, are beneath contempt. The anti-Kavanaugh forces are furious now that the public is conflating the other stories with Ford's, but they brought that on their own heads by orchestrating the pile-on. Now the Dems sound like Broward County election officials: Oh, look, here's another ballot!

Texan99 said...

I don't mean to say that it's OK for a guy to behave in the manner she alleged. It may happen all the time without being OK. I think the idea was to strike a chord with women, get them to say, yeah, I hate it when that happens, it's time some powerful guy got his comeuppance so people would understand that this routine has to stop. If Ford had presented it as the kind of thing that happens all the time, which normal women shrug off without in any way excusing it, she might have been more credible. It was the attempt to treat it as fundamentally traumatic that sounded dramatized or plainly fantastic. So shattering she couldn't mention it to anyone for decades? A total stranger, not her uncle or something? Please.

And honestly, from Kavanaugh's life and the testimony of his friends and colleagues, I simply don't believe he'd have covered a girl's mouth to keep her from calling for help at any time of his life, however young and tipsy. If he'd done it while drunk, I believe he'd have made shame-faced amends afterwards and probably sworn off alcohol. The guy is a total Boy Scout, and not the angry, over-entitled, repressed sort his political enemies tried to make him out as. The kind they can't understand: someone with a deep personal ethic.