December 30, 2013

Letter to the editor: English language disasters include endangered adverb

Let us observe a moment of silence for the adverb.

The adverb is an endangered grammatical species – thanks to sportscasters, advertisers, the news media, and “English” teachers who haven’t the first idea as to what an adverb is and are passing on their lack of knowledge to their pupils.

For those unfamiliar with this rapidly vanishing breed, the adverb is a part of speech which modifies a verb.

Typically, but not exclusively, an adverb is an adjective with the suffix “ly” added to it.

Unfortunately, in today’s version of what used to be English, the adverb has been all but replaced, incorrectly, by the adjective.

Hence, we get Outback Steakhouse commercials, which tell us to “Live adventurous” rather than the correct “Live adventurously.”

A football player is said to “be playing aggressive” when he is actually playing aggressively.

A fashion model is dressed “beautiful” when in fact she is dressed beautifully.

These travesties of grammar are compounded by other disasters, such as the football player who “breaks contain,” or the all-time master of disaster; the coach who is resorting to “trickeration.”

Contain is a verb, not a noun.

A verb denotes action or a state of being.

You do not take action upon a verb.

A noun, on the other hand, denotes an object, person, place, thing, or abstract idea.

You can take action upon a noun.

Thus, you can contain (verb) a running back (noun), but he cannot break (verb) contain (verb). He breaks containment.

As for “trickeration” – it is so repulsive that it barely deserves the dignity of recognition.

There is simply no such word.

These are the some of the nails that have been pounded into the coffin of the late, great English language.

Gordon Smith

Portland

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