When you need to postpone an appointment, in German that’s a Verschiebung. Most frequently, at least where I work, Termine werden nach hinten verschoben, i.e. rescheduled to a point in the future.

Nach hinten? Wirklich?

Let’s think about that for a minute.

I always thought Nach hinten means “behind {you|me|us}.” Postponing something means to push it off into the future. Behind you.

Are German-speakers oriented on the past? Here is a very crude ASCII diagram depicting my point.

|                O                  |
|  |<--------- +-|-+ --------->|    |
|  past       __/^\__       future  |
|           des san mia             |
|          (das sind wir)           |

If nach hinten is behind you, and it also means the future, then you must be facing the past. Right?

Wir müssen den Termin um zwei Wochen nach Hinten verschieben.

My native English-speaking gut tells me the equivalent expression in English would be:

“We’re going to have to push that meeting off by two weeks.”

Or maybe:

“We’re going to have to push that meeting back by two weeks.”

Aha. Push it back. As if the appointment had a face, is facing us, and we want to move the date of the meeting to a point on the timeline behind the appointment. Bonus crude ASCII diagram:

|               O - Hi.     Sup? -  O                  |
| |<--------- +-|-+ ----------    +-|-+  ---------->|  |
| past       __/^\__             __/^\__       future  |
|                                                      |
|              us           the appointment            |

Is that what they mean by nach hinten?