Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hopefully

I am old enough to remember being taught not to confuse "hopeful" with "I hope" or "we hope." I was also taught to draw a distinction between "healthy," which is what we hope to be, and "healthful," which was the correct term to describe the foods and activities that would contribute to our health. Ever hear anyone describe a low-fat diet as "healthful" today? No, people call it "healthy," and talk about eating "healthy" all the time. People also rarely use the term "hopefully" to mean "with hope," as they are usually using as a short form of "may it be so.

" A Washington Post article on the AP's official stamp of approval on the adjective "hopefully" functioning as "“It is hoped, we hope,” as it had to succumb to popular usage gave rise to an article in The Atlantic tthat argues that no regrets are necessary. Key quotes from the WP: "After all, 'English was created by barbarians, by a rabble of angry peasants,' McIntyre says. 'Because if it wasn’t, we would still be speaking Anglo-Saxon.' Or worse, French."
 Key quote from the Atlantic: "What this means is that in language and in clothing, there is no single standard any more, except at publications that rely steadfastly on a style guide and have the resources and skilled copy editors to enforce it. Often the issue is not the garment or the word, but how the wearer or user carries it off.

"This is the argument of those who take the attitude of anything goes, so long as meaning is effectively conveyed, against language purists who believe in preserving forms and Latin structures -- the type of people who are offended by split infinitives. I fall out somewhere in between the two extremes of these positions.