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Today's Word



Feb 20, 2023
This week’s theme

This week’s words

I'll have the English major's breakfast - eggs over easily.
“I’ll have the English major’s breakfast - eggs over easily.”
Cartoon: Dan Piraro

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with Anu Garg

“God says Christian women dress modest.”¹ A preacher held this sign on a Florida beach in an attempt to shame women. God also says to feed the hungry and help the poor, but it’s more fun to stroll around women in bikinis in the guise of doing God’s work.

God also says to pay attention to grammar. OK, she may or may not have said it, but as long as we are being cafeteria believers (we pick which of the directives to believe in), among thousands of religions around, surely at least one has something to say about using words proper.

Or properly.

That brings us to adverbs. To be sympathetic to the preacher -- and yes, it takes a lot of fortitude on our part to be sympathetic to him -- language usually doesn’t go with fixed rules (it’s not a religion). Like most things in this world, language is all about context,² about what’s idiomatic, what we are used to hearing.³

Think different OR Think differently?
Drive safe OR Drive safely?
Don’t drive fast OR Don’t drive fastly?

While you mull over these, this week we’ll share with you five adverbs where one doesn’t need to worry about -ly.

¹Video here. User comments are the best.

²What may not be appropriate in a church may be perfectly appropriate on a beach.

³We are used to hearing wild stories of our religion since childhood and they sound just fine. Similar stories from other religions we can laugh at.

PS: Maybe the preacher was avoiding adverbs because, as the writer Stephen King put it, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”



adverb: By memory; by heart.
adjective: Involving memorization.

From Latin memoriter (by memory), from memor (mindful). Earliest documented use: 1612.

“A mere presentation of data that the student might be expected to repeat memoriter.”
Louis Gottschalk; A Professor of History in a Quandary; American Historical Review; 1954.

Jokes of the proper kind, properly told, can do more to enlighten questions of politics, philosophy, and literature than any number of dull arguments. -Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-1992)

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