Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Comments and complaints

C: I wonder when educated people will stop adding an "ly" to the end of a word in order to show the world they are proficient in English grammar.
True, we know it should be "walk slowly" and only the uneducated would say "walk slow"!! But does that mean one can just randomly add an "ly" to impress the world? Your editorial today used "more importantly" !!! Wrong---what you wanted to tell us is "more important"!! Think about it---relive your grammar school grammar!!! (That's an interesting phrase! I like it!)
More important, it is not firstly, secondly, thirdly, etc. which has been used in your paper from time to time. It is first, second, third!!!
Oh, and I hope you never "feel badly" because that could only occur if the tips of your fingers had lost all sensation! And, then you would really "feel bad because you 'feel badly' "!!
I do like your paper and enjoy reading it on-line. - J.V.

A: Sorry, but our use of importantly was not wrong; it is rather an example of the evolution of our language. Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition, notes: "A number of commentators have objected to importantly as a sentence modifier and have recommended important instead. Actually both the adverb and the adjective are in reputable standard use in this function."

Our language is always changing, and although the use of such adjectives as first, second, third and important are now often used where adverbs once were, our use of more importantly and secondly may be old-fashioned but correct.

17 comments:

J.V. said...

Sorry, but just because people use something incorrectly for such a long period of time that it becomes acceptable, doesn't make it right. That is why I referred you to the grammar that you were taught. You are simply going along with the "dumbing down of America". If you use what you know (or should know as the editor of a paper) is grammatically incorrect because it has evolved into "correctness", why should we waste time teaching grammar in school. Teachers should allow students to say and write the English language "any old way they want" and in a few years Webster's will say it has now evolved into proper usage.

Brant said...

J.V.,
I agree with your preference for "important" over "importantly" and "first," "second" and "third" over the alternatives, but as with many grammatical choices, it comes down to just that, a preference. It's indicative of the fact that our language is ever-changing, and some people will cling to the older ways of speaking and writing, while others will embrace developments in the language. On some issues, such as the "bad" and "badly" example, there really is no debate. But on other words and questions of usage, intelligent people will sometimes diverge.

Park Burroughs said...

Sorry, but are you trying to make a point that usage that has been standard for several hundred years - the usage I learned long ago in grammar school - is now wrong because some modern grammarians prefer different usage?
Because language is fluid and influenced by current culture, grammar has some gray areas, as any reader and lover of English knows. During the process of change, there is more than one "right" way to write something.

Anonymous said...

I'll let you slide on "importantly," but I will not give a pass to the countless newspeople who use the term "to spite" incorrectly. Example: "President Bush continues to say that the invasion of Iraq was justified TO SPITE its being based on flawed intelligence."
What they mean in "DESPITE." You cut off your nose TO SPITE your face DESPITE the fact that you won't be able to breath as well afterward.

And please tell the weatherpeople that it's "mee-tee-or-ol-o-gist," not "meter-ol-o-gist."


Arrgggh! It's enough to make a perosn go nuculer.

Anonymous said...

I have a question....... Why is your City information always bias towards the council member that sits in jail because he can't obey laws? Your reporter T. Johnson, seems to always slant the view and isn't being truly objective. I would ravish the opportunity to read "THE NEWS!" and not read how your employees feel, thus slanting the perspective for readers.

I am a city taxpayer and I don't appreciate the journalistic bias.

Park Burroughs said...

Matt Staniszewski is still a councilman, despite the fact that he lives in the county jail. He attends Council meetings and speaks, he opposes the majority, and so what he says is often relevant and newsworthy.
So, you think it is bias that our reporter quotes him in her accounts of Council meetings? Should she instead pretend that he is not present?
In what way does Terri Johnson slant the news? You seem to have a pretty good idea of what her opinions are, but I don't and she's worked for me for 20 years. Whatever he opinion is is irrelevant; she is not an editorial writer, but a news reporter, and she does a damn good job at it.

Anonymous said...

In addition to being bias, it seems that angry and unprofessional are additional adjectives that could be used!

LOOK THOSE UP in your DICTIONARY!

Brant said...

I would think you would "ravish" the opportunity to answer the question about how, precisely, the reporter is "slanting the news" in Staniszewski's direction.

Park Burroughs said...

You could look up "bias" in your dictionary and figure out how to use it properly in a sentence.

Anonymous said...

I'm half-affraid to ask my question, now. I don't think I want to read this blog anymore, if this is the way people are treated.

Anonymous said...

Grumpy, do you have to be so offensive????

Park Burroughs said...

Yes.

Anonymous said...

Amen

Anonymous said...

Ya asks yer questions, ya takes yer chances. Are only answers that agree with the comment permitted?

Anonymous said...

I used to be a reporter, and I can tell you this: more often than not, those representing both sides of an issue used to accuse me of slanting my stories in favor of the other side. Sometimes, both sides thought I agreed with them. I don't think the fault is always with the writer, although I will agree that these days, there's a lot of one-sided journalism going on. It's easy to spot. But it's a far cry from Charles Foster Kane telling his wife that people will think "what I tell them to think." If you think the paper's biased, why read it?

Anonymous said...

Hot dog with ravish, anyone?

Brant said...

The thing that's irritating is that the person making the accusations of bias offers not a single shred of evidence to support this. It's just some vague claim from somebody who obviously has an ax to grind against Staniszewski. There are papers in Western Pennsylvania that clearly have an agenda and use their ink and paper to press it. The one owned by a certain gazillionaire in Pittsburgh comes to mind. But I think most papers in the region make every effort to present the most accurate, balanced reports they can. They confine their opinions to the editorial pages, as it should be.