Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Link Corral: Grammar Wars Over "Hopefully"; New on Redux

From the frontlines of the grammar wars:  The AP stylebook has approved the modern usage of “hopefully” to mean “it is hoped.”  It used to mean only  “in a hopeful manner.” (I.e. Hopefully, we'll have lunch soon used to be incorrect, even though many people would say such a sentence.  The correct usage would be, "Perhaps we'll have lunch soon," she said hopefully.)

I admit that I broke this rule at will in conversation, in my fiction, and sometimes even in formal writing, but it’s still a little sad to see the end to one of those super-snobbish rules that always separated the grammatical folk from the snobbishly grammatical folk.  I mean, I always knew I was using the word incorrectly.  Just don’t you dare cave on alright, which will NEVER be all right with me!

Here’s a funny and informative article in The Washington Post about the “hopefully/it is hoped/in a hopeful manner” issue:

You know these kinds of arguments. You know them well. Linguistic battlefields are scattered with the wreckage left behind by Nauseated vs. Nauseous, by Healthy vs. Healthful, by the legions of people who perpetuated the union between “regardless” and “irrespective,” creating a Frankensteinian hybrid, “irregardless.”

These are the battles that are fought daily between Catholic school graduates, schooled in the dark arts of sentence diagramming and self-righteousness, and their exasperated prey. They are fought between prescriptivists, who believe that rules of language should be preserved at any cost, and descriptivists, who believe that word use should reflect how people actually talk.

“It was an unconscious mistake,” say the descriptivists.

“You mean subconscious.”

“Well, anyways — ”

“You mean anyway.”

“That begs the question. Why do you care about grammar so much?”

“No. It doesn’t! It doesn’t beg the question at all. It raises the question. It raises the question!”

“I’m going to beat you subconscious.”


Wonderful poem by Dan Rosenberg on Redux…and don’t miss the “story behind the poem”:  “I sometimes find myself saying overblown things to my students like ‘poets are the gods of the little worlds they create.’ And then I have to think about what the hell I was trying to say.”

From “Here”:

Here’s the word for an ant’s single leg.
I plucked it and breathed it.
I caught it beneath my gum line.
Here are some plants I grew by speaking to them.
Here are the aphids that happened when my mind wandered.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.