Why do you find the increase in spoken adverbs without -ly surprising?
Changes underway in English
1. Most English verbs are dynmaic. A small group are so called stative verbs. In spite of its smal number stative verbs are on the decline. More and more former stative verbs acquire dynamic quality (hope, be, guess, verbs of senses...) additionally. This in a way is understandable since life is dynmanic ie subject to change. There is no place for stative verbs in a world changing so fast.
2. This growth in the number of dynmanic verbs calls for the increase of adverbs not adjectives. Surprisingly spoken English is increasing the number of adjectives or adverbs (which look like adjectives) withouht -ly suffix. We are expected to use more adverbs in verbal language in comparison with say academic English which is more nominal in structure and because of information density tends to use more adjectives.
Ideas are welcome.
Why do you find the increase in spoken adverbs without -ly surprising?
In this case Richard we can't tell whether it is an adverb or an adjective. My point is adjectives (or adverbs without -ly) are gaining the upperhand in spoken English because they are shorter. Maybe the difference between adjective and adverb will be abandoned altogether in the future. What do you think?
English has a class of adverbs that do not end in "ly"; they're called flat adverbs. English has had flat adverbs throughout its history. In fact, flat adverbs are less common today than they were in the past. Here are some examples of flat adverbs that would be unacceptable today:
... commanding him incontinent to avoid out of his realm and to make
no war - Lord Berners, translation of Froissart's Chronicles, 1523
... Iwas horrid angry, and would not go - Samuel Pepys, diary, 29 May
... the weather was so violent hot - Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, 119
... the five ladies were monstrous fine - Jonathan Swift, Journal to
Stella, 6 Feb. 1712
... I will not be extreme bitter - William Wycherly, The Country
It would be interesting to see whether this linguistic phenomenon is underway in other languages. But I doubt that this seemingly decline of static verbs is linked to our changing walks of life. Nevertheless, our vision of how the world is overlaps the linguistic field. Naturally,dyna verbs go along with adverbs as much as static v call for adjectives . Are we prone to avoid predicative forms ? What about TO BE ? I find your " information density " proposition quite relevant .I grant that information have to be given as quick as possible through the "lightest medium" but to what extent does this fact alter the linguistic stratum ? Adverbs point out " how...". On the contrary,adjectives put the stress on nouns to the detriment of processes. Eventually it's worth meditating upon this subject.
Does language follow extra-linguistic facts? or stand against? It reminds me of old structuralist theories ... but Dr J Ibrahim knows this subject.
1. In my linguistic predictions I wrote about information density and speed in communication. Maybe one day our natural languages will be too slow for future communication. We might need a different tool. Academic English for example makes nouns superior to verbs. Hopefully brain research can help us understand more. Still you should know I am only speculating or making predictions here based on my personal observation.
2. Maybe the number of adverbs that end in -ly will become smaller and smaller or as in German there won't any difference between adjectives and adverbs at least in form. Spoken English is doing it.
3. As far as BE and HAVE are concerned you might be interested in E-Prime or in an article I wrote about these two central verbs.
4. You may have noticed the number of irregular verbs has been declining (why do we have - BE- dreamt and - AmE- dreamed? Certain tenses like past perfect are not so often used as they used to be. Maybe the more complex our vocabulary becomes the simpler grammar will be. I mean the two areas in language behave like two powers struggling. Accuracy is becoming less important than fluency as long as communication is successful. In addition, I believe grammar is complicated and time consuming for our future needs.
Hearty food for thought from the same blog:
I think there's a real difference between adverbs that allow the dropping of the -ly and those that don't. As you point out, Lynn, I just can't say fair frequently in that context, but I can say fairly frequent or at least, I think I can (sentences invariably sound more grammatical the more I think about them).
There are certainly instances of adverbs which never drop the -ly and others that may. I sense that the operative difference is that those that never drop the -ly are those adverbs that act as an adjunct affecting the entire clause (certainly above, is an example). Those that may appear as -ly-less forms are within a noun phrase (or an adjective phrase, depending on your analysis) and therefore only affect an adjective (this is a [[real(ly) good] wine]). In other words there is a difference between adverbs that modify entire clauses (which is seen to revolve around the verb, thus ad-verb) and those that modify adjectives. It's just coincidence that these two are form-identical. I suspect all that is happening with the dropping of -ly is that the modifiers of adjectives are being associated more with modifiers of nouns (adjectives) than with modifiers of clauses (adverbs). 10 January, 2007 14:32
Alright, I just thought of some evidence to back that all up.
The sentence that's really convenient is structurally ambiguous. The 'really' may either be a sentential adjunct affecting the entire clause, or it may be only modifying the adjective 'convenient', as in 'very'.
Now, I may be wrong, but I have the inkling that by dropping the -ly, then it may only have the second reading. You can say that really is convenient but never *that real is convenient.
Applying the same test with a synonym for the sentential adjunct, such as 'truly', and a synonym for the other one, like 'very', and it seems that -ly-less adverbs are more like adjective-modifiers than clause-modifiers:
that truly is convenient
*that very is convenient
that is very convenient
*that is true convenient
So Lynne, real(ly) versus fairly? I'd say that fairly is a sentential adjunct and that real(ly) can be either.
(Sorry for the long-winded comments) 10 January, 2007 14:42
Read more here
And there's more to it:
From Rina Kampeas:
[Last] week's curmudgeon may have noticed a genuine trend towards neglecting the -ly ending that standard English generally requires on adverbs, but slow is not a good illustration of the phenomenon.Source: Take Our Word For It, page four, Sez You...
Here's what I found in the tenth edition of Webster's Collegiate:
2slow adv (15C): SLOWLY
usage Some commentators claim that careful writers avoid the adverb slow, in spite of the fact that it has had over four centuries of usage <have a continent forbearance till the speed of his rage goes slower ---Shak.> In actual practice, slow and slowly are not used in quite the same way. Slow is almost always used with verbs that denote movement or action, and it regularly follows the word it modifies <beans... are best cooked long and slow ---Louise Prothro>. Slowly is used before the verb <a sense of outrage, which slowly changed to shame ---Paul Horgan> and with participial adjectives <a slowly dawning awareness... of the problem ---Amer. Labor>. Slowly is used after verbs where slow might also be used <burn slow or slowly> and after verbs where slow would be unidiomatic <the leadership turned slowly toward bombing as a means of striking back ---David Halberstam>.
Here are the part-of-speech attributions for the entry slow in the eighth edition of the COD:
slow ... adj., adv., & v.
That is, there's nothing to be deprecated, whether from a curmudgeon point of view (which I myself don't share) or a selectively prescriptivist one (which I do), in the use of slow as an adverb in writing or in speech. Doubtless that's why we used once upon a time to see "GO SLOW" painted in big, elongated white letters on the road near intersections.
Reaching about 26 years back in my mental files to my undergraduate lectures on the history of the language, I come up with this explanation for the exceptional status of slow as an adverb -- an explanation quite possibly distorted and rendered inaccurate by the vagaries of memory:
Slow is an example of what historians of English call "flat adverbs." (Fast is another, but its shifts of meaning require a whole other letter.) Their Old English forebears were adverbs formed from adjectives not by adding the ending -lice, for which the Present-day English reflex is -ly, but by adding the ending -e. This ending disappears in Early Modern English -- hence the citation from our favorite authority Shak. in the usage note from Webster's Collegiate.
All the best.
tenses are also altered by this phenomenon : How could we explain, for instance, that the French' passť composť' which structure is akin to present perfect,does have an edge on passť simple and even on imparfait which is far more 'energy-saving '?This is true in the realm of spoken and written French as well
French can't be compared to English as an international language of communication. ... What about German and Perfekt ?
Moreover, How should we behave as teachers and even as speakers ? Should we stand against this trend and swim against the tide by putting the stress on academic structures ? That's another subject...
It may also be instructive to pay a close attention to the striking similarity between English and latin diachronically speaking. Latin split over the Western world into many dialectal forms and then waned.. How did latin change in structure as years went by ? I 'd be grateful if you could give me an answer .
Language is a living body, and changes all the time to keep pace with events, as someone mentioned before. Yes, in spoken English, people (let's refer to AmE now) tend to shorten down words, even adverbs, and thus make their point faster(i.e. the adverb "surely" is now "sure" - sure you can do that!). On the other hand, while the suffix "-ly" is skipped in some adverbs, it crops up in others, and awkward adverbs like "overly, muchly, thusly" are often heard, or appear in writing. We dress words up by adding -ly to them, as though putting a hat on a horse. In written AmE, the dynamics of our world reflects itself in language through oversimplified spellings, like "nite", "thru", "pleez" etc. The world is in a hurry, the writer is in a hurry too, but at the expense of defeating the purpose with writing - the reader is in a hurry, too, and mentally supplies the missing letters, however at the cost of a fraction of his attention. On the other hand, a written word like "thruway" instead of "throughway", on a road sign, serves a good purpose: the speeding eye for readers who are driving sixty-five. This word has taken hold, it has a purpose.
To sum up, in a speedy world, many "shortcuts" in both oral and written language are taken at the cost of clarity, and are thus self-defeating. They won't last long. Clarity in a language is paramount, however the times are. Most simplifications either win their place or die of neglect, due to the disfavor with which they are received by the reader.
We're living in an IT world, and more simplifiers like "u", plz" (pleez"), "FYI" and so on crop up, in the computer world. Some even make their way in regular writing, and those who use it intend to be more off-beat that pithy and clear. Not everybody understands these simplifications, not in this century anyway. Who knows, hundreds of years from now when everyone is used to these innovative simplifiers, how it will be. Both oral and written English will be impacted by these changes, and as long as they have a practical purpose and are not so-called shortcuts at the expense of clarity in language, they are here to stay.
Last edited by bianca; 30-Apr-2007 at 10:40.