Adverbs Beware

Tom Jones drawing.

Tom Jones Drawing. Urban cowboy.

I read somewhere today that someone said that something “almost ought to be illegal.”

A statement like that always reminds me of how terrified I am, as a stylist, of adverbs. I estimate that at least half the time I spend in self-editing is in weighing which adverbs can be axed.

Of all the parts of speech, adverbs are the most unreliable, the most likely to corrupt and pollute and obfuscate straightforward utterance. They’re the quintessential weasel words. Their sole purpose is to put hedges and dodges and jukes around good old verbs and adjectives (and sometimes other adverbs). They’re the tool of speech that cowers behind plausible deniability. (I never said that.)

Almost ought to be illegal? Some things ought to be illegal that aren’t, undoubtedly. And vice versa. But is there anything that should be almost illegal, not quite? Or else, on the verge of being considered illegal, but not reaching a state of full consideration?

The slightest attempt to make sense of such bafflegab reveals how noxious and fatuous and perverse and subversive it is. It ought to be illegal.

[Copyright (c) 2018, James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.]

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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3 Responses to Adverbs Beware

  1. The grammarian in me is smiling:. “the quintessential weasel words” 😉

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