The Death of the Adverb

This has been bugging me for a while, and I think it qualifies as MPSIMS.

It seems that the Adverb is in its death throes. I expect an obituary shortly.

It was first noticable with UK sport commentators - “the boy done brilliant”. That kind of thing. Then there was the slow, steady creep into advertising.

Continental Airlines: Fly Right.
Apple: Think Different.
Subway: Eat Fresh.

And now, in the UK, there is an extremely lame campaign aimed at encouraging kids to be safe online. (It’s so lame that it actually deserves its own thread).

This is called the Click Clever Click Safe code. Every time I hear that irritating woman on a radio advert imploring me to “Click Clever, Click Safe”, I want to throw things at the radio.

Well, I think that sometimes the adjective is needed. “Eat Fresh” is not the same as “Eat freshly” – the first means, “Eat fresh food,” while the second would mean something like “Eat in a fresh manner,” whatever that might be.

“Fly Right” is odd, because out of context it’s ambiguous, but I don’t think you could ever say “Fly rightly.” It’s ambiguous, because in the context of the ad it obviously means “Fly with the right airline,” but it also could mean, “Fly in the opposite direction to left.”

I feel badly for you.

At least they don’t tell you to straighten up, too.

Well, Stephen King for one hates them (tho I am sure someone will go find one in one of his books right after I type this)-I can see the potential for overuse, and taken to the absurd extreme your writing will sound like a Tom Swift adventure (I think that’s an excellent example of adverb abuse IIRC).

Once those layoffs started at Lolly’s, Inc., the rest was inevitable.

Well, what you’re arguing is not that adverbs are going away, but that the grammar for them is changing, in spite of grammarian’s stern looks and idle threats to not accept it.

The adverbs you’re talking about are the ones that are formed by adding -ly to an adjective. That’s not all adverbs by a long shot. Nothing’s happening to then, when, tomorrow, etc. ‘Click clever, click safe’ is a clear usage of *clever * and *safe *as adverbs. So the adverbs aren’t going away, it’s just that their formation is changing. Instead of ‘adding -ly,’ you’ll ‘do nothing’ to form an adverb from an adjective. In a few hundred years, there will only be a half-dozen or so ‘-ly’ adverbs left, and they’ll be the exceptions.

*Consequently *will be among these. I don’t know how I know that, but I do.

He hates when writers use them because they have chosen the wrong verb or adjective in the first place, and need to modify it. I agree, they can make prose a lot muddier. I think he’d agree that adverbs shouldn’t go away, though.

I really hope this not enough off-topic to be grating, since it’s not directly an adverb issue, but can anybody explain when “effort” got to mean “trying to get in contact with for the sake of an interview”? The sports types on several talk shows I listen to all seem to share the same usage whenever they haven’t completely lined up a player or a coach or spokesperson for the team for a program slot.

“We’re efforting Coach Blah Blah for the next hour” or words to that effect.

I just hope he talks good when they get him on.

I’ve never heard this. Is this British use?

Completely off-topic but, today, during a teleconference, I listened as two attendees used the word pulse as a verb. “Let’s pulse the bureau via a survey.” “Once we’ve pulsed the bureau we can set the agenda for the workshops.” When did this happen?

The adverb may be dying, but it’s dying slow.

Not what I have heard. Nashville and Birmingham (Alabama). I guess it sounds slick and upscale to the audience, but I hear the same people abusing the language in other ways, so I chalk it up to a fad, a neologism, or ignorance.

My dictionary has no verb forms for “effort.” I have yet to see if online dictionaries have bent to the usage or not. I’m scared to look!

Well, there is the verb “to eff.” E.g., “you really effed that up good, didn’t you?” Note too the lack of an adverb.

Uncanny, no? That seems to imply you can uncan things. I guess that way they rot.

I haven’t heard effort as a verb to mean to snag somebody for an interview. However, in US television the arrangement of a guest appearance is called a get. If you can snag a big star or somebody who has turned down other shows, it’s a terrific get.

There are irregular adverbs. “Wicked good” has been around for a long time. “Stupidgood” is fairly recent. Too cool became waycool for a while, but that probably is no longer cool.

I don’t pretend to be current. I am a market indicator on usage; by the time I find out about it, it’s obsolete.:smack:

The quote I remember most from Stephen King is in his book On Writing…

To paraphrase, he says adverbs are like dandelions. One or two aren’t so bad, and can even be colorful. But once a few more start popping up, before you know it, your prose will be filled with them.

So, he views them as a colorful weed, which the writer should use judiciously.

Ever since reading that, I can’t help but notice when King uses an adverb every. single. time. And he does too. So he doesn’t hate them. Also, sometimes proper sounding prose simply calls for them, and there’s not much you can do about it.

Continental Airlines: Fly Right.
OED: Right, adv.: I. 1. a. Of motion or position: Straight; in a direct course or line.
Apple: Think Different.
OED: as adv. = DIFFERENTLY. Now only in uneducated use.
**Subway: Eat Fresh. **
OED: B. adv. 1. In a fresh manner, freshly
"Click Clever
OED: B. quasi-adv. a. Neatly, skilfully.
Click Safe
OED: no adverb form.

So let’s recap. Out of five words the OP says aren’t adverbs, the OED says that four of them are (though one of those is uneducated usage).

Tell me, did someone pass a rule that forbids looking up things in a dictionary before ranting that they are wrong?

Curses! I wanted to make a SchoolHouse Rock reference.

First they came for the verbs, and I said nothing, because verbing weirds language. Then they arrival for the nouns, and I speech nothing because I no verbs.

Out of the four, one is “uneducated usage”, and one is “quasi-adverb”. And “Eat Fresh” and “Fly Right” still sound like nails down a blackboard to my ears.

And there is no excuse for a government funded campaign which is meant to educate children using “Click Safe”.