A Brief Thought on “Just now…”

I check my email a bit too often. Not as often as some, mind you — but more than once an hour, and that feels excessive.

When checking my e-mail on my phone, I repeatedly will look to see what time the mail was last retrieved. There is usually an indicator of the time last checked. Earlier today I looked to see when the mail was checked and it said “just now” — and I laughed.

Eleven years ago as a student of the Ohr Somayach yeshiva in Jerusalem, I made a friend from South Africa. I don’t recall the exact conversation but I had heard him on the phone saying something would be happening “just now” and the context made it clear it could not have happened just then.

No, he told me — in South Africa, the expression “just now” is used to connote a time shortly in the future — so just now means it hasn’t happened yet but it will in a little while. Let’s meet just now — not actual now but later.

All of this came to me as I looked at that message on the phone. It had checked the mail just now — so was I getting mail from the future? I suppose only if I had my language set to South African English!

Tangent — if you have any South African friends and it starts to very lightly rain (“trying to rain,” my wife would call it) tell them it looks like a monkey’s wedding! They may be impressed you know such an odd South African expression.


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