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  1. Newbie
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Trinidad Tobago
      • Current Location:
      • Trinidad Tobago

    • Join Date: Oct 2014
    • Posts: 1

    Lightbulb "Is firstly correct" - More than two options exist since audience determines options

    Hello Everyone,

    I just registered and joined this forum because I had a question that just had to be asked. I'm a native English speaker born and raised in Trinidad. This is my very first post so please be kind

    In relation to a thread opened up by a fellow member 'Sameer1728' who asked "Is firstly correct" and whether there were only two options (re. to 'Two camps' on the matter) to how it is used. In the discussion although many valid and relevant viewpoints were expressed, I do not feel objectively that the question was as explicitly clear on the matter of options. This I feel is especially important for the non-native English members like Sameer and Nyggus.

    BobK pointed out that 'there's no simple answer to your question', and that many people were taught to express points in the way of 'First, Secondly, Thirdly...'. He also identified the important point and trend that this was once an actual taught and learned principle that has now become widely uncommon in the UK and the US.

    Casiopea provided many references that supported the discussion which showed great emphasis that focused on two camps (A for 'first, secondly..', and B for 'first, second..'). She also identified that students must think for themselves and stressed the importance of audience to meet context.

    Nyggus seemed to be still affected by responses and perhaps criticisms to non-native writers and their works. Also there was some frustration observed with how rules were applied, and limitations (perceived or real) of non-conformance to rules and impact on non-native English speakers and/or writers.

    Sameer was left with three main tenets for his thread:
    a) There are two main camps regarding how first(ly) is used in the expression and emphasis of points.
    b) That although difficult to answer, audience determines what expression to use (as documented in relevant style guides or not yet).
    c) That other audiences exist from the two camps (via education system, background/localized culture, etc.)

    Two questions to ask ourselves is what is the risk of allowing this 'inconsistency', and what is the 'impact'. I personally believe that their is no grave risks in allowing this inconsistency, as the risk/impact as compared to some other inconsistencies or other expressions. One such example is some slang that can have a less than desirable impact on a language and its efficacy at varying levels; personal, society, educational, etc.

    Based on if ultimately the audience determines how to actually use expressions, and that the risk/impact of language degradation is low, then I propose that:
    a) There can be as much options as determined by proper assessment of audience and personal preference once not degrading either in efficacy or personally ~ Nyggus
    b) Based on potential audiences, in this specific case I think there are actually three camps: (i) For Firstly.., (ii) For First.., (iii) ForFirst..Secondly... ~ SameerIn conclusion two camps are modern (US & UK), and one is niche/localised traditional UK.

    I hope this can bring an equal balance and appreciation between low impact expressions while still allowing for appropriate style, creativity, and choice, AND the need to identify and be mindful of current trends (consistencies) and emerging ones.

    Many Thanks & Best Regards,

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,903

    Re: "Is firstly correct" - More than two options exist since audience determines opti

    You could argue that there is another position that accepts all of the options- first/second, firstly/secondly and first/secondly. I honestly don't mind what people use.

    Welcome to the forum, Paul.

    BTW, if a thread is closed and you want it open, just ask us. Threads close automatically when no one has replied for a long time.

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Jun 2014
    • Posts: 11,073

    Re: "Is firstly correct" - More than two options exist since audience determines opti

    There is nothing wrong with Firstly. Just be sure there is a Secondly. (I agree with Tdol.)

    (I learned something new: BTW, if a thread is closed and you want it open, just ask us. Threads close automatically when no one has replied for a long time.)

    (When I was a moderator I could open any closed thread, and I didn't have to ask anybody.

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