Hopefully
Posted: 04 May 2007 01:56 AM   [ Ignore ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  155
Joined  2007-01-28

Eliza’s link in the Costermongers thread yielded this statement:

The Pearly tradition has survived for over 125 years and hopefully it will continue for many more to come.

Twenty years ago, William Safire excoriated this usage as a hopelessly illogical modernism, pedestrianism, and bad-style-ism. The problem is that it means literally “in a hopeful manner” in the same way that thoughtfully means “in a thoughtful manner”. In fact, people use it to mean “it is to be hoped that” or “the author hopes that”. Perhaps that is some kind of parallel to the Latin gerund (I think) in the same vein as Amanda, a “girl to be loved”.

Frankly, I use hopefully all the time and it bothers me only slightly, but it bothers me nevertheless. OTOH, people do say thankfully and gratefully in much the same way as hopefully.

“Thankfully, the Queen of England did not lay claim to ownership of Williamsburg during her recent visit. That would have caused international chaos and confusion in as much as no one could have sorted out whether the United States as the most prominent world power or Britain as the original colonizer had priority of rights over the other.”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 May 2007 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3417
Joined  2007-01-29

William Safire is an idiot.  Pay no attention to his maunderings about language, a subject he knows no more about than any random speaker of English.

Hopefully is exactly as good as sadly, happily, (un)fortunately, and the many other sentence adverbs (cf. disjunct).  In other words, there’s nothing wrong with it.  The question of why it has become a lightning rod for ill-informed mavens is one of abnormal psychology, not linguistics.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 May 2007 05:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  236
Joined  2007-02-13

Whenever some perfectly commonplace usage is condemned as “illogical”, this is a strong hint that the person doing the condemning is bloviating.  Grammar, in the sense of explicit rules of language usage, is a model of actual language.  If the model does not fit the data, this is not the data’s fault.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 May 2007 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  710
Joined  2007-02-07
Richard Hershberger - 04 May 2007 05:52 AM

Whenever some perfectly commonplace usage is condemned as “illogical”, this is a strong hint that the person doing the condemning is bloviating.  Grammar, in the sense of explicit rules of language usage, is a model of actual language.  If the model does not fit the data, this is not the data’s fault.

Great point. Unfortunately, my experience is that many people prefer models to data and those of that bent will not be swayed by your simple truth. Thus it has always been and thus it shall always be. I no longer even discuss it with the word police, I just smile and thank them for their concern. Unless, of course, I’ve been into the tequila, in which case I smile, call them a moron, and thank them for their concern.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 May 2007 08:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  158
Joined  2007-02-14

I agree. With etymology as with many things “a page of history is worth a volume of logic”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 04 May 2007 06:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1155
Joined  2007-02-14
Richard Hershberger - 04 May 2007 05:52 AM

Grammar, in the sense of explicit rules of language usage, is a model of actual language.  If the model does not fit the data, this is not the data’s fault.

My characterization of a prescriptivist is someone who would say."If it works in practice but not in theory, something must be wrong with the practice.”

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ Jacksy      misblurbing ››