Educated by weaklings, idolators of stigmata, especially fragmentary ones, we belong to a clinical age when only cases count.

This is a quote from E.M. Cioran's book ''All Gall Is Divided'' (translated from French by Richard Howard), and I'm a bit confused because in the original version, that ''when'' is actually ''où'', that means ''where'', and my confusion rises from the question whether or not in English ''where'' is usually used while referring to places, locations, and space in general, with ''when'' being chosen while having time in mind, periods and ages, like in this example ''clinical age''.

For me ''when'' there just sounds odd, and I'd substitute ''where'' for it. Would that be correct, would it be grammatical?

  • I think the question of when vs where is the smallest problem with this sentence. It seems meaningless to me, but it probably makes perfect sense to its French audience. I'd say where, but I think when is also OK. – ab2 MonicaNotForgotten Jun 26 '16 at 2:52

Time (and I would consider an age to represent time) seems to call for "when". But it doesn't necessarily do so.

People use when and where somewhat interchangeably in the situation you've presented. "Where" can be a place in time.

  • We're living in a time where, more than ever, everyone has a voice. - NYT
  • This kind of ‘‘perfect storm’’ is seductive because it speaks to the unnerving condition of living in a time when much of our well-being is tied up in vast, convoluted systems that few people comprehend. - NYT

The same is true of French, if I'm not mistaken; can mean a place (le village [where] j'habite est) or a time (le mois où [when] il a neigé, je n'étais pas là.) Or, for that matter, a situation in which, etc.

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