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In a hopeful manner

Motivated Grammar tweeted as @MGrammar: “Saw people complaining about sentence-modifying ‘hopefully’ (e.g., ‘Hopefully, we'll win’) being ungrammatical. Please stop, it's fine.”

From @ArrantPedantry, this response: “Surprisingly, some people still hold to that rule, but thankfully their numbers seem to be dwindling.”

Stubbornly, this superstition refuses to go away, and sadly, no amount of explanation suffices to wipe it out. Foolishly, Strunk and White perpetuates it. Laughably, people follow it unthinkingly.

But plainly, sentence adverbs, adverbs that modify an entire clause, do exist in English, and oddly, other than hopefully, cause no uproar when they appear.

 

 

Posted by John McIntyre at 3:55 PM | | Comments (15)
        

Comments

Hysterically, you are so right!

Cheers,
Tim

I feel a little bit embarrassed that I didn't catch what you were doing until the last paragraph. But I guess that just goes to show how natural sentence adverbs are, eh? You've created something ideal for directing "hopefully"-peevers to.

Predictably, I approve.

Thank you! This is the one grammatical "error" that I haven't been able to effectively eliminate from my conversations. I feel so much better now.

Do also see what Angry Sub-Editor has to say:

http://angrysubeditor.blogspot.com/2011/08/it-is-to-be-hoped-that-hopefully-not.html

"Foolishly, Strunk and White perpetuates it," i.e. "this superstition." Just as foolishly, so does the AP Stylebook. Alas, the latter has its cadre of pedants who feel the need to tweet that their respective panties are in a bunch anytime they see "hopefully" used "wrong."

I agree with you hopefully.

I am much more a descriptivist htan prescriptionist, but i do have two peeves that are like calk on a blackboard. The first is "often times" which seems to be gaining in popularity. It's like "pizza pie" - a pizza is a pie.

The other comes from the military - pronouncing cache as cachet. Now if some guy with a high school education doesn't understand the most basic rules of French pronunciation nor the difference between stored materials and a sweet-smelling organic mixture I can accept that with hardly a curl to my lip. But when a supposedly educated media commentator doesn't know te difference... I despair. And when an NPR reporter confused the two I was driven to send a note.

Kevin: If it's any consolation, it appears that oftentimes is actually on the decline over the last two centuries—not that it was ever popular to begin with. Check out

this Google ngram chart.


Kevin,

Respectfully, I will concede that you are quite correct in your rather narrow definition of the word "cache", as stored military materials, but "sachet" w/ a soft "s" sound, IMO, would be more apropos your "sweet-smelling organic mixture". How anyone, save a complete doofus, could mispronounce "cache" as "sachet", beats me.

Sachet's homophone, "sashay", is defined as a specific jaunty square dance move, or a term for walking in a casual, yet deliberate manner.

"Cache" (pronounced caché) is often used to signify an individual's kind of secret, or hidden advantage, clout, or perhaps talent.

Oh, and it's "prescriptivist", NOT "prescriptionist" if I could get even more nitpicky.(Sorry) Prescriptionist sound like a new-fangled definition for a pharmacist.

And I prefer "ofttimes", to "often times". I guess I like that Old English, slightly arcane affectation. Love the word "whilst", but it seems to have gone out of popular favor these days. Perchance a little too snooty sounding?

ALEX

Well, it appears the comment system didn't like my link. Let's try this instead:

http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=oftentimes%2Coften&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

I happily used "hopefully" until I was mortified to learn in college that it was considered poor form. Then I learned some German and wondered why it was okay to say "hoffentlich" in the very same way.

Alex, You're quite right. I suffered a brain fart, although I did mean "cachet" meaning an official seal or indication of approval.


Kevin,

"Brain fart" duly noted. HA!

For this recently signed-on Medicare 'subscriber', I prefer to call these little memory lapses, and unwitting verbal stumbles, senior moments. A tad less bawdily graphic as passing wind, even if it does emanate from aging grey matter, as it were.

Why just yesterday, I happened to have misplaced (Okay, lost) my regular pair of eye glasses, either while checking out at the local super market, or my nearby CVS pharmacy.

Of course, the managers at both emporia claimed they'd seen hide-nor-hair of my missing gold-plated, half-wire-rimmed specs, after their cursory check of their respective lost-and-found caches.

Luckily, I have a half-decent backup pair, so I'm not too chagrined about the loss. Chagrin and bear it, I always say. (Groan!)

This past weekend after enjoying a delicious repast , my girlfriend and I had just left this little Chinese eatery down in Orange County, CA, when I suddenly realized while starting up my van that I'd left those very same, (now lost), glasses back in the restaurant. (Clearly these specs had a get-lost wish.)

My girlfriend charitably volunteered to go back to the restaurant to retrieve them. Mission accomplished. No biggie.

I immediately suggested that perhaps my mid-to-long distance vision must be getting much better, of late, since it took a while to notice that I was sans glasses. It's not the first time I've removed my glasses and left them in a public place...... and then doh!........... realized they're missing.

My easily humored girlfriend got a huge laugh-out-loud kick out of my ad hoc improving vision hypothesis, and the next day went and recounted the the entire slightly embarrassing incident to her best gal friend in Brussels, Belgium. Both apparently got a hardy shared chuckle out of my senior moment, and my admittedly defensive, suddenly improved vision rationalization.

What's that 'old saw' about forgetting my head, if it wasn't attached to my body......... or words to that effect? (Can't say the same for eye glasses.)

So Kevin, IMHO, your little cache/ "cachet" minor 'blip' amounts to a virtual tiny hill-o'-beans, in the grander scheme of things.

Oh, and sorry for being such a nitpicker, earlier on. Prof. McI.'s prescriptivist entreaties are obviously starting to rub off on me. HA!

ALEX

And let's not forget cachepot--pronounced with two syllables, not three. I bought one yesterday to house an orchid that is going to be a housewarming gift.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at john.mcintyre@baltsun.com.
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