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I found a UK newspaper article from October 1918, which made reference to 'last June'. What's the likelihood of that meaning June 1917, as opposed to June 1918?

I assume if it was 1917, they would have said 'June last year', but I don't know if that was correct English at the time.

Btw, I've checked through some of the old questions, and none seem to be about the same time period, so I'm assuming it's alright to post this one.

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  • Welcome to ELU. Can you provide a little more context around the phrase? The whole sentence or the surrounding sentences would be quite helpful.
    – Helmar
    Jul 25, 2016 at 14:11
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    "last June" would usually mean the "second-most-recent June". The "most recent June" would normally just be referred to with "in June". Jul 25, 2016 at 15:03
  • @Helmar Thanks for the welcome :) The sentence says 'The young woman took lodgings in Cleethorpes last June... representing herself as the wife of a quartermaster-sergeant, who regularly visited her. Three months ago the soldier was ordered abroad.' The soldier left on 22 July 1918. Therefore either June is possible but it would surely be more likely to be June 1917?
    – Leigh
    Jul 27, 2016 at 12:39

2 Answers 2

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It means the most recent previous June.

For an unambiguous example see the 3 January 1874 The Church of England Magazine at page 15:

I gave an account last June* of the happy death of one of my little Sunday-school children...

*See "Church of England Magazine" June 30th, 1873.

Or more specifically concerning writing "last June" during October, see:

Page 93 of In memoriam, Eliza Boardman Burnz, born, October 31, 1823, deceased, June 19, 1903 where "THE SCHOOL JOURNAL: October 31st 1903." is quoted as saying:

until the time of her death last June, Mrs. Burnz...

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A calendar year is generally considered a contained time line. 1917 is discrete and separated from 1918. Within the calendar year, time is fluid traveling from month to month.

A discrete year is much like traveling on a freeway with a motorcar. We are on the current freeway, or this freeway. When I say, "when we were on the last freeway" or "take the next freeway" I reference another freeway other than the one currently on.

If I am in the calendar year 1918, any month in 1918 is referred to as this (eg. this August). If referring to the previous year (1917) the referenced would be last (eg. last June). Any month in the upcoming year (1919) would be referenced as next (eg. next October).

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