On Wed, 27 Feb 2008 12:25:04 -0600, A Muzi yellowjersey.org>
>> On Wed, 27 Feb 2008 09:09:56 -0800 (PST), Jay Beattie
>> lindsayhart.com> wrote:
>>>>> Jay Beattie wrote:
>>>>>> Hopefully human nature will not out ala Somalia/Lord of the Flies.
>>>>>> Those collapsing socialists regimes are kind of scary.
>>>>>> P.S. -- Sorry, Jobst, I used "hopefully."
>>>>> So who hopes for this outcome, or is that a secret? Are they "scary"
>>>>> or just "kind of scary", and to whom? I think you're dodging. Let's
>>>>> hear what YOU believe on this issue.
>>>>> Jobst Brandt
>>>> Dear Jobst,
>>>> Are you _really_ unable to figure what Jay is saying?
>>>> Or are you just quibbling with a straw man because it makes you feel
>>>> Feel free to complain that "really" could be removed from my first
>>>> sentence, but only after you remove the gratuitous "I think" from your
>>>> last sentence.
>>> Note (from Wikipedia --FWIW):
>>> Merriam-Webster gives a usage note on its entry for "hopefully" in
>>> which the editors point out that the disjunct sense of the word dates
>>> to the early 18th century and had been in fairly widespread use since
>>> at least the 1930s. Objection to this sense of the word [as a sentence
>>> adverb], they state, only became widespread in the 1960s. The editors
>>> maintain that this usage is "entirely standard."
>>> Also, no one objects to the use of other common sentence adverbs like
>>> "interestingly", "frankly", "clearly", "luckily", "obviously", etc.
>>> Those are frequently used on this NG and everywhere else. Why
>>> "hopefully" is singled out by JB baffles me.
>>> Also "scary" is an adjective -- "kind of" is a modifier. All is well
>>> with that construction. -- Jay Beattie.
>> Dear Jay,
>> As a related point, Jobst loves to announce when someone says that
>> something is interesting that _he_ doesn't find it interesting.
>> Apparently, he believes that his lack of interest is interesting
>> enough to proclaim.
>> Frankly, I also seem to recall similar sputtering when someone says
>> "frankly"--to be honest, there's even a faint memory of absurd
>> complaints when posters have said "honestly" or "to be honest" on RBT.
>> It's just bad-humored smoke and froth, often intended to obscure weak
>> points or even a lack of anything to say.
>> Interestingly, your post is far more instructive than the tired
>> knee-jerk nonsense that it rebuts. Such mindless quibbles belong on
>> the same ash-heap as the admonition against splitting infinitives in
>> English, a strange rule coined by pedants intoxicated with languages
>> where infinitives cannot be split because they are a single word--to
>> really understand this point, it helps to study a Latinate conjugation
>fero, fere, tuli, latus?
You know perfectly well that brevity only provokes me!
In Latinate languages, the infinitive is a single word, not the two
words that it is in English.
Instead of the English "to + verb" construction, the modern Latinate
languages form the infinitive by adding a "~r" ending to the verb
That is, "to talk" is two words in English, but a single word "hablar"
Hard to fluently split a single word, isn't it?
In-fucking-credibly, you can do it in English.
The modern adverbial formation above illustrates some of the niceties
The adverbial phrase "In-fucking-credibly" is fluent idiomatic modern
In contrast, "Fucking incredibly, you can do it" would be an
abso-fucking-lutely lame construction and strong evidence of a
The intensifier is erupting in the middle of the polysyallbic adverb.
The quibbler will argue that this is the end of civilization. The
linguist will note that the loss of significance of easily diagrammed
position is a characteristic of Asiatic and native North American
(To quote one of my professors, in English the position of words
matters a great deal and words are always utterly separate, but in
lots of other languages you can just stick stuff in where you please
and jam things together to suit the situation.)
The adjective form can be more flexible than the adverbial.
That is, we can say either "That's fucking incredible!" or "That's
Neither form will raise eyebrows among purists, since both forms are
This digression should be dedicated to Samuel Goldwyn and his
in-fucking-credibly astute observation: "I've got two words for
(Try to move that intensifier outside "in-fucking-crediby" and you'll
see why it moved inside the adverb itself. As a final digression,
"in-fucking-credible" is just a fascinating variation of the same
process that we see with internal vowel gradation. Some strong verbs
in English resisted the change to regularized endings and indicate
tense by changing the vowel-sound inside the word--sing, sang, sung,
drink, drank, drunk, ring, rang, wrung. In some circles, the
grunt-sound "fucking" that is used for strong emphasis is starting to
move inside some of the words that it intensifies, a hitherto unknown
process in English.)
Anyway, there is just no way to really and truly stick any intensifier
between the -l- and the -ar- in "hablar" or any other Latinate
That's why the "split infinitive" prohibition never arises in Latinate
languages--their infinitives aren't splittable two-word constructions,
where sticking the intensifying or clarifying modifier closer to the
verb is possible.
When schoolmasters who taught Latin for a living had nothing better to
do, they tried to mindlessly apply Latin rules to the English
language, giving us some odd notions about grammar versus reality and
quantitative Latin names for English emphatic meter.
Curiously, the strange rule against ending sentences with prepositions
is fighting a long-lost battle against pairs of words that do _not_
want to be split as far as the quibblers want.
For example, "to look" is not quite the same as "to look for".
No fluent English speaker will ask "For what are you looking?" unless
he's trying to sound slightly stilted. Putting "looking" and "for" at
opposite ends of the sentence is splitting them with a vengeance.
Usually, we want to know what you're looking for.
That is, looking-for is a special meaning, as opposed to look. In
fluent English, prepositions often take on unexpected duties that defy
rules made up by grammarians trying to regulate rather than to
Ultimately, cheerful quibbles can be amusing, but they're rarely
practical. "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" is fun only as long as it's
taken as word-play. No one likes a quibble without a smile.
Real linguistics is more a matter of put-up or shut-up.
The quibbler will pretend that "put-up or shut-up" is somehow a
violation of some sacred rule and leads to some dreadful
misunderstanding because the objects of the apparent prepositions seem
willfully to have been left out--
Er, willfully to have been omitted. "Out" at the end of a sentence
would be shockingly bad grammar to a quibbler.
In contrast, a linguist will try to explain how put-up, shut-up,
left-out, in-fucking-credible, and similar phrases actually work and
are understood by anyone fluent in English.