That’s the (ahem) eye-grabbing graphic for our company newsletter. While the name is unimaginative, it’s been around for a long, long time. We have a whip-smart marketer who hasn’t been around a long time, and she recently sent me an e-mail:
Doesn’t this [newsletter] come out bimonthly (twice a month)?
Speaking of being around for a while, English (it would seem) would have evolved a logical method of dealing with this. Then again, since the opiate-addled writers and performance artists have shown so convincingly, language is a virus from outer space, perhaps not. Here’s what one dictionary has to say about biweekly:
1. Happening every two weeks.
2. Happening twice a week; semiweekly.
A publication issued every two weeks.
1. Every two weeks.
2. Twice a week; semiweekly.
Great! In other words, it’s every two weeks — unless it’s every two months. Good thing your bus and train schedules are more precise than that, eh? So perhaps said marketer is right, and we should change it to “bimonthly.” Should we?
1. Happening every two months.
2. Happening twice a month; semimonthly.
1. Once every two months.
2. Twice a month; semimonthly.
A bimonthly publication.
Hmm. Same problem. Thus and so, since our bulletin appears every two weeks and (in a long month) could appear three times, biweekly is more accurate. Or rather, less misleading. But only just. Semimonthly actually refers to the half-month, but the Semimonthly Sentinel just ain’t gonna fly.
The problem isn’t “weekly” or “monthly,” but “bi.” See, bi being bi (perhaps bi qua bi), it wants to have it both ways — that is, unless it doesn’t. A bisexual, after all, is interested in sex with both genders, not in sex with half of one. Then again, to bifurcate something is to separate it. To make it two, and to make it into half of one. Damned English.
But back to our Biweekly Bulletin conundrum. The most accurate adjective would be “forthnightly,” but I just can’t see anyone saying, “Hey folks, read the Fortnightly Flyer!”
Maybe it should be the Payday Post. Or maybe we should just say the hell with it and leave it as it is. After all, it’s still a lot less misleading than “Fox News.”