Ask Archer: Bi Some Time
Archer Answers Your Big Questions

Dear Prof. Archer,

I notice that your advice column comes out about every two weeks, or twice a month. Does this make your biweekly or does it mean that it is bimonthly?

 

Thank You,

Bi-Curious Gurl

 


Dear Bi-Curious Gurl,

 

Greetings and salutations! Thank you for your most wonderful letter. I empathize with your bafflement about those two calendar terms. They are truly confounding… to anyone of average intelligence such as yourself. You have indeed come to the right animal, because I am an intellect of a higher order, silly bi-ped.

The prefix bi relates to the number two. When used with a unit of time, it may mean ‘occurring once every two’, or ‘occurring twice every one’. Thereby lies the confusion.

To answer your question, then, my column is both biweekly and bimonthly. How is that, you ask? Well, little miss, biweekly means that something occurs twice a week OR every two weeks. The same applies for something bimonthly – it occurs twice a month OR every two months. Since half a month is two weeks, the two words may mean the same thing. The definitions for these two terms are rather ambiguous, unfortunately. Biannual is another word with this problem. The terms biennial and bicentennial, on the other hand, are much explicitly defined to mean ‘every two years’, and ‘every two hundred years’, respectively.

For your first problem, it is recommended to just use clearer terms, such as ‘twice a month’, ‘every two weeks’, or ‘every other week’. You may also use the term ‘semimonthly’, especially for financial matters. If you work in publishing, however, it is assumed that bimonthly refers to something that comes out every two months.

Bi also denotes ‘having two’, or ‘in two ways’. This introduces another lexical complication for you, I expect. The former implies halves, while the latter, doubles. It begs the questions, does someone bisexual have two sexual halves, or is s/he doubly sexual?  What kind of paradox is this? Answer: THE BEST KIND!

For this second problem, though only hinted at in your message, I suggest we meet up in person for a thorough paws-on analysis. Please call my personal assistant…

XOXO *wink*

 

I remain, yours, most curious-ly,

Archer (Prof.)

 

P.S. You may find my previous columns HERE.

Categories: [language], [self-help]

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