Thursday, November 30, 2017


Take the still new adverb “hopefully.”  People who care for language, including myself, wince every time they hear it.  It floats around in the sentence, attached to nothing in particular.  “Hopefully the dollar will go up.”  There it certainly does not modify the verb, as a good adverb should unless there is an adjective somewhere to cling to.  If it modified the verb, it would be “the dollar will go hopefully up"…..What is melancholy about the suddenly universal “hopefully” is that it seems to point to a contrary state of mind, that is, to an absence of hope.  The speaker really fears the dollar will go down still further, and if you tell me “Hopefully we’ll meet in a better world,” I can pretty well understand that we won’t.
 - Mary McCarthy, “Language and Politics” (1973)

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