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We don't currently recognise the distinct ways in which relative time and space is treated, consistently, as a setting, by the English language, which is a problem.

Darren Tomlyn, Blogger

February 2, 2016

9 Min Read

A Study Of Games As A Matter Of Linguistics

Section 1: The Problem With Our Understanding Of The Meaning(s) Of The Word* Game

Part 6: Relative Time And Space As A Setting


This part is another short and fairly simple explanation of what I see – (though whether anyone else will agree, I still don’t know) – with further ramifications for the next two parts.

Note: prepositions are as far as I've gotten in my study of English at this time, and are still a work in progress, so this part will probably be we-written a number of times based on my findings.



Our current understanding and recognition of relative time and space is a little too simplistic and inconsistent within the English language, at present.  As with the content of the previous parts, this also has ramifications for our understanding of noun, which is what I’ve been slowly working towards from the outset, and is the reason why I’ve had to figure all this out and write it all down, so you can all see what’s happening.

Time and space can be (semantically) combined with environment and place etc., as intangible things to become a setting in which everything can (and ultimately must) exist.  Although they can be applied as properties of things and other concepts used as noun, they are not inherently properties at all, instead both are derived from information itself (as the ultimate intangible thing), instead.

Relative time and space are therefore directly related to - as derived from - the basic, intangible things of (absolute) time and space themselves, and so cannot exist without them being described, first.

But this is not fully happening at present, and instead almost all types of time and space are perceived as properties of things (and all other concepts that would be currently perceived to be used as nouns) and things of happening.

As such, the main way a setting can be currently described is as a place, and so both absolute and relative time and space, in describing a setting, are not currently fully recognised and understood to exist, even as they inherently form part of what we use them to describe - and so the relationship between all the different concepts and such a setting they exist within, is not being truly recognised and understood, and therefore described and taught properly and consistently, as part of the rules of the language.

Since the whole idea of a setting is a time and place in which other concepts exist, relative time and space describes a group of concepts that do not change regardless of the types of concept that exist in relation to them, even if they are treated in a manner that is similar to being a property.  Such concepts can sometimes be given properties themselves, and so are not treated in a similar manner to any other type of concept.  Since relative time and space as a setting can then be further applied in relation to an object, (in a linguistic sense), they also have semantic relationships that properties of things and things of happening do not share.

The different concepts representing relative time and space, in general, also tend to differ in syntactic application between themselves a great deal, further separating them from being properties, which also makes not recognising them so problematic, and also adds an additional number of distinct manners of use they must be recognised as causing, and then those of their (when applicable) properties used in combination/relation must also be recognised, too.  Having said that, there a couple of concepts of relative time that we could (probably) get away with perceiving as such a thing, though they would then be viewed in an inconsistent manner in relation to all the others.

There is a short list of such concepts, and we'll start with:


Relative Space As A Setting

Relative space is (syntactically) applied in four distinct ways in the English language, though only two are consistently recognised at this time.

The first, is a property of all concepts used as noun, used in direct combination – e.g. indoor tennis.  This concept is not used as a property in relation, or as a setting in combination without much additional context.

The second, is in relation to an(y) object, seen to be used as a preposition – e.g. over the wall, inside the room, or further related with additional properies in relation to an object - e.g. in front of the table – but more on this in the next part.

The third method of applying relative space, is in describing a setting for any and all applicable concepts, including all concepts used as nouns and things of happening/verb.  Although they can often be further applied in relation to an object, (e.g. I am outside the car), without it, it belongs to a different concept and has a different manner of use. The following are all applications of the same concept/basic means of communication:

  1. The car is outside.

  2. I threw it outside.

  3. I willl run outside.

  4. I ran into the cold, outside.

  5. Outside is cold.

  6. It is warm, outside.

  7. The temperature outside, is really hot.

  8. Outside is above the temperature we need.

Although 3 above is perfectly consistent with being used in combination with verb, there is a different manner of applying such a concept in relation to some things of happening. This is because some things of happening can be seen to involve some interaction with the setting - e.g. I ran upstairs/outside etc. involves entering the setting, rather than merely taking place within it, as e.g. I played outside would describe.  For this reason, we can add an additional application to describe such things of happening in relation to a setting without such interaction, e.g.:

I ran upstairs -> I ran, upstairs.

This application is very specific to individual things of happening, and cannot therefore form part of any basic manner of use for the concepts themselves.

However, the concept that relative time itself belongs to, still does not change - it is merely applied differently.

All these applications of relative time (as a setting) therefore cause, and require, a single manner of use – (such individual applications are not nouns/adverbs, etc.!)

Such a concept can also be given its own full set of (archetype) properties, which again, require their own manners of use.


Relative Time As A Setting

Like relative space, relative time is also treated in many different ways.  Unlike relative space, though, relative time involves a few distinct types of concept, not all of which are applied in exactly the same manner as each other.  Although some of the different types appear to be similar to the basic archetypes of properties, (another reason for our confusion between them), they’re still not fully consistent with such applications.

As with relative space, the first main application of such types is as properties used in direct combination with the concepts used as nouns, and must not be considered a property when used in relation (without additional context):

  • The late bus.

  • The later bus.

  • The latest bus.

  • The first/last bus.

  • Today’s bus.

The difference between their application as a property and a setting is simple:

The late (property) bus can be early (exist within a setting).

So, the first test for deciding which can be described as distinct concepts, in regards to their setting, would be rearranging them as follows:

  • The bus is late.  (Basic/Absolute)

  • The bus is later, (than usual). (Relative comparative)

  • The bus is the latest (model).* (Absolute comparative-1)

  • The bus is (the) first (bus today).* (Absolute comparative-2)

  • The bus is today/now. (?? Suggestions?)


As we can see, these concepts do function to describe a setting, except for those marked with *, which appear to be used in a manner that is consistent with being properties of the futher object added, but these also do not change in meaning or concept with their application in relation to the concepts used as nouns or verbs, and still share semantic relationships with the other concepts of relative time that should help to define them.

The last type of relative time, can also be used in combination with other concepts and properties while only requiring a comma at most, not a conjunction, (as multiple properties would usually do).  It can also be applied as the object of one particular concept that we'd label as causing preposition, even if the concept itself isn't recognised for what it is. (More on this in the next part.)

Although earliest etc. appears to be used in a manner that is consistent with it being a comparative-absolute property of things of happening, first/last etc., is not applied in the same way, intead  it is treated in the same way as the additional property:

  • I threw the ball early/earlier/earliest of all/today

  • I first threw the ball.

  • I threw the ball, first.

There are other differences in application between these types of concept, though:

I am early/earlier than ____/(the earliest of all/first) are viable, but not I am today etc., (with I am, today, in regards to something previously mentioned, being different).

Although we do sometimes use such basic means of communication/concepts in relation to being/be/been, in my opinion it’s not as consistent as the use of am, or more things of happening, instead – all future and past tense only really make sense in relation to am, rather than being, for example.  Some may disagree, but that’s fine – I just think the use of being in combination with relative time and space is completely superfluous in addition to am, and if not, then other things of happening are far more suitable – (e.g. I am running late, instead of being late).

Relative time can also be used in relation to an object, but the individual basic means of communication used are not as directly related, (e.g. before/after/past), and its syntactic application is far more involved than relative space, with some concepts, (today/first etc.), also being used as a subject for such a phrase - (more on this in the next part).

As far as having additional properties are concerned, later and today/now etc. can be given them of all types, (but not the others, I think?), with additional such manners of use required, aswell.

There is one other problem we have, that is also caused by perceiving individual syntactic applications as and by a different manner of use, regardless of its context and concepts being represented - that of latest/earliest etc., e.g.:

I will meet you by 9pm at the latest.

This use is currently seen as described as being a noun, as an equivalent of, e.g.:

I will meet you by 9pm at the bar/club etc..

But what isn't being recognised in that the use of latest etc. in such a manner is simply slang - we're merely leaving off what the property is of:

I will meet you by 9pm at the latest time.

As such, its use here is still as a property of a thing, regardless of what it appears to be.


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