I wonder whether the "will" in the last sentence of the paragraph below indicates only the future or also includes the present. I am confused whether she means the alteration will happen as time passes in the future, or whether it can be regarded differently depending on the perspective even right now.

If this semantic reversal feels too radical to stick, consider the word “peruse,” which has gone from meaning “to read carefully or pore over” to meaning “skim or browse” within the past few decades. Words and phrases shift meaning all the time, sometimes even coming to mean their opposite, and sometimes conveying opposing meanings depending on context (as in “sanction” or “dust”). As a historian of the language, I am mindful of the fact that what strikes older speakers as illogical and absurd right now will in all likelihood seem more interesting than nonsensical in retrospect.

That paragraph is from here, an article by Anne Curzan about the idiom "Sight for Sore Eyes". She talks about the fact that lots of young students regard certain idioms differently from their standard meanings.

Thank you.

  • How do you interpret the phrases right now ... in retrospect?
    – TimR
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 12:57
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo I don't understand what you mean. Do you mean that because there is "right now" the writer used "will" to describe the future in contrast? Commented May 16, 2017 at 6:30
  • 1
    Yes, a contrast is being set up between the present and the future. Older speakers feel now that certain language uses are absurd and illogical. But in the future, when they think back on this, (that is, "in retrospect"), they will regard those usages not as nonsense but as interesting examples of how language changes. This realization will occur in the future, even though it will be about what had happened in the past (that is, now).
    – TimR
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 11:42

1 Answer 1


"Will" introduces the Future tense. What the 'historian' wishes to say is that "right now older speakers consider language illogical and absurd but in the future it will seem more interesting than nonsensical in retrospect"

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