September 2, 2017

I used the word "nerdily" (in that last blog post) and Meade, proofreading, questioned it: "Nerdily?"

I questioned that, and he said "I question all adverbs."

Now, I want to get him a hat that says "Question Adverbs." You know, like the old slogan "Question Authority." Where did that slogan come from? Ah, Wikipedia — I love Wikipedia — has a page for "Question authority":
The slogan was popularized by controversial psychologist Timothy Leary....

It is intended to encourage people to avoid fallacious appeals to authority. The term has always symbolized the necessity of paying attention to the rules and regulations promulgated by a government unto its citizenry. However, psychologists have also criticized Leary's method of questioning authority and have argued that it resulted in widespread dysfunctionality. In their book Question Authority, Think For Yourself, psychologists Beverly Potter and Mark Estren alleged that the practice of Leary's philosophy enhances a person's self-interest and greatly weakens the ability to cooperate with others.
Since — as quoted in the previous post — "Everybody's shouting "Which side are you on?,'" I'm on Timothy Leary's side.  About questioning authority. About questioning adverbs, I'm on Meade's side. I question them, but — as with authorities — after questioning, I sometimes go along with them.

Leerily.

59 comments:

Big Mike said...

Leary. Leerily?

If the proper measure of a pun is its awfulness, then lady you are on fire.

The Bergall said...

I question the over use of pronouns...........

Jupiter said...

Question psychologists.

Meade said...

I'm so skeptical of authority that I ended up tuning out, turning off, and dropping in.

Earnest Prole said...

Hopefully not.

TerriW said...

It's all the adjective+ly adverbs that run it for everyone. Not and never and friends are excellent adverbs.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Many moons ago I mentioned to a colleague that there was a car in the company lot with a Question Authority sticker on one rear corner, and Jesus Is Lord on the other. Was the driver a bit confused, perhaps, or was this a deliberate act?
He looked me in the eye and said "That's my car."

TerriW said...

(Thanks a lot, autocorrect! They also ruin it for everyone. That's what I get for not hitting preview this one time...)

Ann Althouse said...

@Fred LOL

Robert Cook said...

I have Mark J. Estren's earliest published book, (as Mark James Estren), A HISTORY OF UNDERGROUND COMICS, first published by Straight Arrow Press (a Rolling Stone imprint) in 1974.

YoungHegelian said...

"When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them--then the rest will be valuable. " ---- Mark Twain.

Applies even more to adverbs, but, I must confess, I'm addicted to the little buggers.

EDH said...

Has the loading of individual Althouse blog page titles slowed to a crawl?

Google must have put a woman in charge of Blogger.

Laugh Track: "A HA HA HA HA HA HA!"

rhhardin said...

Nerdily is actually a deadjectival adverb, from nerdy, which itself is a denominal adjective, from nerd.

If you want a denominal adverb from nerd, you'd use nerdwise, nerdwards, nerd-fashion, nerdways or nerd-style.

I head nerdwards.

rhhardin said...

Althouse loads fast with an ad blocker (uBlock Origin).

tcrosse said...

"Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
Daß ich so traurig bin", he said Lorelei-ly

richard mcenroe said...

Nerditudinally.

rhhardin said...

That's from nerditudinal, an adjective.

Michael K said...

"He looked me in the eye and said "That's my car."

The only car I saw with a Trump bumper sticker in LA in 2016 was a Tesla.

tcrosse said...

Question Authority ? Why ?

Virgil Hilts said...

In Stephen King's On Writing. I remember him advising something like - after you write a passage go back and just remove all of the adverbs (at most only leave a couple). If the writing suffers find a different fix. Seems like great advice and King does use very few adverbs.

Virgil Hilts said...

Also, On Writing is a great book and I recommend it even if your not a fan of his genre.

Meade said...

"Question Authority ? Why ?"

Whyly.

Ann Althouse said...

"Has the loading of individual Althouse blog page titles slowed to a crawl? Google must have put a woman in charge of Blogger."

I changed a setting this morning. I turned on HTTPS Redirect. Here's the info that made me think it was a good idea:

"There are three main benefits to using HTTPS instead of HTTP to access your blog:

"It helps check that your visitors open the correct website and aren’t being redirected to a malicious site.
"It helps detect if an attacker tries to change any data sent from Blogger to the visitor.
"It adds security measures that make it harder for other people to listen to your visitors’ conversations, track their activities, or steal their information."

If it's slowing things down, I can turn it off. What do you think?

Ann Althouse said...

I just turned it off.

Anyone think I should have it on?

Ann Althouse said...

"In Stephen King's On Writing. I remember him advising something like - after you write a passage go back and just remove all of the adverbs (at most only leave a couple). If the writing suffers find a different fix. Seems like great advice and King does use very few adverbs."

He writes fiction and may be thinking of the awful use of adjectives in fiction dialogue, modifying "said," as in "... he said, ruefully."

Otto said...

"I question all adverbs." Great advice especially when reading newspapers.

Ann Althouse said...

I like Elmore Leonard's famous 10 rules, which include:

"4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb ''said'' . . .

". . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances ''full of rape and adverbs.''"

Otto said...

Also all adjectives.

EDH said...

Loading speed is back to normal. Blog speed, Althouse.

Meade said...

Categorically reject adverbs.

Otto said...

And the result of questioning authority is? Anarchy

Meade said...

" Blog speed, Althouse."

Blog speedily, Althouse.

Bob Boyd said...

The people who used to say "Question authority" don't want that anymore. Now that they are the authorities, they call it "Hostility to expertise".

tcrosse said...

Blog wordily, nerdily, flipping-the-birdily.

M Jordan said...

Writing teachers (I used to be one) tell you adverbs (and adjectives) weaken rather sentences. "He tried mightily to survive" is weaker than "He struggled to survive." It's kinda true. But adverbs are fun, verily.

In conclusion, just because a word ends in "ly" doesn't make it an adverb. "Fly" is not an adverb.

Selah.

Anonymous said...

"Nerd" is a noun. The adjective is "nerdish," and the adverb would be formed from the adjective as "nerdishly."

Ann Althouse said...

But "nerdy" is an adjective. I think it's much more common than "nerdish."

Unknown said...

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that read...

"Good is not an Adverb"

Ann Althouse said...

Both "nerdy" and "nerdish" are in the OED. "Nerdy" goes back to 1960 ("1960 Yale Rec. Oct. 11 Of all the schleps..you are the nurdiest." Note the spelling.) "Nerdish" shows up 20 years later: "1980 N.Y. Times (Nexis) 24 June c7/1 Feste the clown,..the loud, belching Sir Toby and..the nerdish Sir Andrew bring a kind of vaudevillian energy to the stage."

Neither adverb makes the OED cut.

But I can find 16 "nerdily"s in the NYT archive:

1989: "PEE-WEE HERMAN IS A SIMPLE pleasure for most little kids, but many adults find him troubling; he's nerdily anal and eerily androgynous, as well as bursting with an anarchist's joy."

1995: "Irked by the dialogue, Mr. Halsey rewrote and rerecorded the caller's prattle so his manner went from nerdily flirtatious to businesslike."

1996: "The costliest coffee is called, nerdily enough, XSjava XSpress."

2004: "RIDING the D train to Sheepshead Bay in the 1970's, I knew I would never be Miss America. Not just because I was short, Jewish and nerdily bespectacled by the time I was 8."

2005: "Rumpled and tired-looking, said by the historian Peter Hennessy to have "the social skills of a whelk," he is regularly described as dour, serious, bereft of small talk, nerdily obsessed with policy."

2006: "A friend of Marie's arrived for the same audition, not nerdily dressed at all: she wore a polka-dot party dress, her costume for a pageant she had to go to immediately afterward."

That's enough. Except here, this one is a headline: "Segways Grow Old Nerdily" (2008).

Robert Cook said...

"And the result of questioning authority is? Anarchy."

Only if you think "questioning authority" means to "overthrow authority." Rather, questioning--and checking--authority is the basis of democracy, and of the scientific method, and of any other area where one seeks to eliminate the wrong, the bad, the stale or ineffective, and to strive for the good and the effective.

Fred Drinkwater said...

My friend with the two bumper stickers had done it deliberately, as a kind of Rorschach conversation-starter. He said the jury was still out on its effectiveness.
Also, he was learning to say "My brain is made of cheese." in various languages. At the time, he was up to twenty or so.
Silicon Valley, c. 1995.

Otto said...

@cook.
Yes if questioning authority is for a better situation and not out of resentment.Another misconception is that we assume those doing the questioning are good and moral. Who determines what is good?
The scientific method at least in the hard sciences is not so much questioning authority but why phenomena . We certainly don't question the electromagnetic wave, but quest to learn it's properties and how to use it.

So in the end one man's questioning authority is another man's anarchy.

William Chadwick said...

I liked what someone in the pro-freedom blogosphere wrote about the election and re-election of Obama as president: that it was when "liberals" removed the "Question Authority" bumper stickers from their cars and replaced them with the bumper sticker that says "Obey." Now I guess they've switched back to "Question Authority." You know, because they're such anti-authoritarian free spirits.

William Chadwick said...

Re Elmore Leonard's rule about modifying "said:" I recently read THE GREAT GATSBY for the dozenth time, and this time around I noticed that Fitzgerald violated "Elmore's Law" repeatedly--and I didn't mind. It's like a lot of rules I've read about writing: when I find violations of these rules in books I like, they bother me not.

tcrosse said...

Question Authority, except in those cases where the Science is Settled.

Otto said...

William Chadwick-MIT/Norden?

eddie willers said...

From the movie, Outbreak:


Sam Daniels (Dustin Hoffman):

Alarmingly high fatality. All localized within a three mile radius. Incubation period: short. Appears contained. Alarmingly. Casey, you didn't put "alarmingly."

Casey Schuler (Kevin Spacey):

It's an adverb, Sam. It's a lazy tool of a weak mind.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Question Althouse, she's the authority around here.

Jim S. said...

How about nerdic? Like, the nerdic countries? Or a nerdic track?

Jim S. said...

I saw a car with a bumper sticker that said "Question Reality." No big deal, I'd seen that before. But it was right above a Darwin fish.

Quaestor said...

Leerily

Curious word that. The adjective is leery, which in form should mean "of or pertaining to a leer". This is a leer, just in case. Ergo "he made a leery face at me" makes perfect sense, pro forma, except that the person who is being leered at is the one who should be leery.

There is an obscure homophone, lear, which means knowledge. It's almost completely obsolete, except in its derivative form, learn, to acquire knowledge. Lear is not totally obsolete in literature — "King Lear," for example. Gives a whole new mean to an otherwise innocuous play title, doesn't it? Therefore, assuming a change in spelling, to leer is to imply having knowledge of the someone being leer at, as in I know what you look like naked...

Quaestor said...

meaning, dammit.

David said...

"I question all adverbs."

Come to think of it, there are a lot of sketchy verbs, nouns, adjectives and pronouns slinking around in our everyday speech. The gendered pronouns are getting most of the attention these days, but that hardly seems fair to the others.

And don't even mention articles. Bloodsucking useless welfare words they are.

TML said...

I was happy to learn, years ago, that "funnily" is a real word.

gnome said...

I'm bigly into adverbisation.

gnome said...

I've been known to noun, but when I'm in a verbing frenzy my gerundives humungify.

Crimso said...

When Trump is done, people can bigly repurpose their MAGA gear. After Meade's crusade, the adverbs will need it.

Anonymous said...

A true nonconformist is someone who, when admonished to question authority, retorts, "Who are you to tell me what to do?

Rigelsen said...

About the HTTP redirect, if Ann reenables it and it slows down the page load for you, try to modify the URL you use to connect by changing the "http:" to "https:". The redirect just causes a double load and thus the slow down. (HTTPS can be marginally slower on really old hardware, but that shouldn't be the case for anything in the last 10 years.)

For those who connect from public networks without VPN, not using HTTPS can expose you to a certain risk. But if you don't carelessly open any downloads or send information you'd rather keep private then it's not too big of a deal.

About the topic of the post, I seem to be addicted to adjectives, adverbs and modals of various sorts. It's an annoying habit, and haven't worked out how to keep it from wrecking my prose. (At least, without spending more time editing what I write than writing it in the first place.)