a substitute for "recent/late"

Xander2024

Senior Member
Russian
Hello everyone,

As far as I know, "recent" and "late" are used in the meaning "occurring or being just previous to the present time."
Will a native speaker please tell me which word would be appropriate in the following sentence:

"When I first met him in 1994, he told me about his ... trip to Geneva."

if I mean to say that he had made his trip shortly before we met.

Thank you.
 
  • ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    In my opinion, yes. :)

    One part of the definition given in the OED is having happened, begun, or been done not long ago or not long before.
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I take the OED definition I cited above to mean, "having happened shortly before the previously mentioned event."

    The full definition is, "having happened, begun, or been done not long ago or not long before; belonging to a past period of time comparatively close to the present."
     

    Xander2024

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I take the OED definition I cited above to mean, "having happened shortly before the previously mentioned event."

    The full definition is, "having happened, begun, or been done not long ago or not long before; belonging to a past period of time comparatively close to the present."
    That's rather complicated as "the previously mentioned event" may not be "comparatively close to the present", don't you think? Would you still use "recent" in the sentence I gave in post 1? I mean your personal choice.:)

    Thank you.
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    That's rather complicated as "the previously mentioned event" may not be "comparatively close to the present", don't you think? Would you still use "recent" in the sentence I gave in post 1? I mean your personal choice.:)

    Thank you.
    That's true, but I was referring to the first part of the definition, which makes no mention of the present.

    It sounds to me perfectly natural. :eek:
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I found these examples in the Corpus of Contemporary American English:

    This collection consists of a letter from Crandon to his brother, Henry A. Crandon in Columbia, Maine, on February 1, 1865. Crandon wrote from the steamship Mariposa in New York and related to his brother his recent voyage from New York to Savannah, and return trip through Beaufort and Hilton Head, South Carolina.

    Tomochichi returned to Georgia in late December 1734 and continued to work on improving his status among both the British settlers and his Creek kinsmen.... More importantly, for the Creeks he acted as their liaison with the British and called a conference of the town leaders to update them about his recent visit to London...
     

    Merrit

    Senior Member
    English
    In answer to the other half of the question, I believe 'late' can not be used in this way.

    For example, 'a late visit' doesn't give me the idea of 'recent'. I would understand it as late at night, or after some deadline.

    However, the adverb 'lately' does mean 'recently'.

    m
     

    Xander2024

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks for weighing in, Merrit. My dictionary lists one of the meanings of "late" as "occurring or being just previous to the present time" synonymous to "recent", e.g. "his late remarks on industry". So I thought they might be interchangeable here.
     

    Merrit

    Senior Member
    English
    My dictionary lists one of the meanings of "late" as "occurring or being just previous to the present time" synonymous to "recent", e.g. "his late remarks on industry". So I thought they might be interchangeable here.
    In answer to the other half of the question, I believe 'late' can not be used in this way.
    Oops, it looks as if it can be used in that way. I couldn't think of an example, so I thought it couldn't. :eek:

    If I read "his late remarks on industry" I would understand it as meaning his recent remarks, so your dictionary is not wrong ((I'm sure it will be very relieved to hear that. ;))) -- but a quick thought would cross my mind wondering why the writer chose that unusual way to say it.

    m
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I would agree that "late" in this context would be old-fashioned.

    The key to the definition of recent is in post #4 - to do with the difference in usage between ago and before. Ago refers to the past with "now" as the reference while before uses some past timepoint as the reference. Recent follows the same temporal pattern.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    (It might be worth noting that "the late president" is more commonly used to mean "the dead/deceased president", not "the former president". "Late" could be very confusing if you replaced recent with late in some sentences.)
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    (It might be worth noting that "the late president" is more commonly used to mean "the dead/deceased president", not "the former president". "Late" could be very confusing if you replaced recent with late in some sentences.)
    Recently deceased, though, wouldn't you say?
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I would say that once a certain amount of time has passed since the funeral, the likelihood of a speaker to describe the deceased as late is influenced primarily by the deceased's current relevance. Long after presidents vacate the White House, the programs they implemented and the decisions they made remain pertinent. Those who lead an anonymous life leave relatively little mark on society.
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I don't know about that. It's often true that a quote will begin with "as the late President X often said..." This could be referring to any president in the past, but I agree that it would more likely be a 20th century president than one before that.

    I might not quite understand what you mean by current relevance. This article about Maria Shriver refers to the late President Kennedy. It is current news but I wouldn't categorize the mention as a result of current relevance. He died in 1963.

    http://www.inrumor.com/in/hollywood/arnold-schwarzenegger-and-maria-shriver%E2%80%99s-marriage-terminated/
    Schwarzenegger and Shriver were a mismatched couple. He was a former Austrian bodybuilder to become an actor and then a politician. She was a journalist, niece of the late President Kennedy, coming from a Democratic family.
     
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    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I suppose you are right about its having to do with perspective. The example you have posted seems strange, but in 40 years, I may well be telling my children or grandchildren about the late Biggie Smalls. :p
     
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