"window" in the context of a time duration.

Yo Iuh

Member
Japan - Japanese
Hello. In the context of a time duration, would you use "small" or "narrow" as an adjective for the word "window"?

:)
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    It's very common to refer to either a small or a narrow "window of opportunity," to refer to one common idiom.
    "Small" may be more popular, but "narrow" is just as appropriate.

    Note that I'm not suggesting that you need to write "window of opportunity." Within sufficient context, the fact that a window of time (rather than a literal window) is what is being talked about.
     

    Trimple

    Member
    Japanese
    Should the small/narrow "window" in the context of time refer always to something positive?
    I note that bibliolept mentioned window of "opportunity" above, and found that Google also suggests the term when I type in "window of".

    Would it be possible to use the term "window of time" to describe a period during something negative might occur?
    Example:
    There may be a small window of time when our productivity is lower than our competitors.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hello, Trimple.

    I think I would always see "window" used like this as an abbreviated form of "window of opportunity". Which would imply that it's only used for positive things, seen from the point of view of the person taking advantage of the window of opportunity. Of course, from someone else's point of view, the effect might be negative: if I went out for an hour, that might provide a window of opportunity for thieves to burgle my house, for example.

    So, for me, your sentence would only work if you were thinking of things from the competitors' viewpoint: the period of "our" relatively low productivity might provide an opportunity for the competitors.
     

    radosna

    Senior Member
    English- USA
    I, on the other hand, don't automatically see "window of..." as being an abbreviated form of "window of opportunity." In fact, I often use the phrase "window of time" in the context of scheduling appointments with people. I spent 12 1/2 years with a touring theatre company, living life "on the road". Life on the road was pretty unpredictable and often, the best I could do when trying to arrange calls with people would be to say something like, "I have a half hour window" or "a window of time between 3-3:30 when I should be free."

    Going back to your original question, I think both "small" and "narrow" are appropriate in this context. Going back to my previous example, I could have also said, "I have a small [or narrow] window of time between 3-3:30 when I should be free."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Fair point, radosna. But wouldn't you say that "window of time" always implies "period of time that I/we could take advantage of"? In other words, that it's positive rather than negative from the point of view of the person planning to use the "window"?
     

    radosna

    Senior Member
    English- USA
    Hmmm... I think you have a good point there as well, Loob.

    But then if one were to use the expression, "a small window of time" (or "a narrow window of time"), wouldn't you say that that sort of neutralizes it? One one hand, the person is saying, "Yes, it is possible. Yes, we can take advantage of that." On the other hand, the person is simultaneously saying, "I don't have much time. We're very limited."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Radosna, Forero, I accept what you both say.

    But would you not agree that Trimple's sentence
    There may be a small window of time when our productivity is lower than our competitors.
    implies that the "window of time" is being viewed from the perspective of the competitors?
     

    radosna

    Senior Member
    English- USA
    Actually, to be honest, loob, I cannot answer your question because I cannot make sense of what Trimple is trying to convey in that sentence. I don't know why, but the phrase "a small window of time" does not seem to work in the context of that sentence. I feel that there are too many opposing sentiments contained within the sentence which make the writer's (or speaker's) intentions rather ambiguous.

    I think a clearer and more sensible way of rephrasing that sentence would be: "There may be a short period of time when our productivity is lower than our competitors."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I think we're agreeing, radosna.

    I, too, think that
    There may be a short period of time when our productivity is lower than our competitors.

    is much more likely than
    There may be a small window of time when our productivity is lower than our competitors.
     

    radosna

    Senior Member
    English- USA
    Yea! We agree! Thanks for the linguistic ping-pong match and fine sportsmanship! Catch you next time!

    Yo Iuh, I hope that we haven't thoroughly confused you! Keep up your good work in English!
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I'm wondering whether there's some element of cross-Atlantic difference. The phrase window of time sounds strange to me, and the British National Corpus does not show up any instance of its use. There is a goodly number in the Contemporary Corpus of American English (87 instances), although this is still outnumbered by window of opportunity ​(561 instances).
     
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