Feel Badly

Language is common to people living in groups. Discomfort with one’s own speech is common only in kleptocracies where thugs interfere with majorities as well as minorities: “Don’t say ain’t!” “Don’t split your infinities!”
Trouble is, few of the robot social reorderers, “teachers,” know or can explain what a split infinitive is: to the effect that people, schooled people, people who in other ways feel secure in their social position, torture their own speech in fear of social opprobrium.

Emily Post’s Etiquette
thanx Emily Post’s Etiquette

I haven’t know any Don’t-say-ain’t martinets in a long time, but I still hear people I love and want total comfort with say “I feel badly that …”

That’s what they say: “I feel badly.” What they mean is of course “I feel bad.” Ignorant teachers, school board thugs, mess us up for life.

“I feel badly” means that there’s something defective in how your feelings form or express themselves: you’re not good at feeling. “I feel bad” means that you experience empathetic pain at someone else‘s discomfort.

The problem is school-induced confusions of adjective and adverb: in English adverbs take a number of forms. New formations follow the Germanic prescription of adding “-ly” at the end: a contraction of “like”: “I feel bad-like.”
But older forms keep their original forms: which only sometimes end in “-ly. Piecemeal, dig piecemeal! That’s an adverb. Where’s the “-ly”? It doesn’t have one. It never had one!

People who believe, falsely, that one can tell an adverb reliably from and adjective by seeing whether there’s an “-ly” at the end, will unnecessarily intrude one at the hind end of a word like “bad”: which can be either adjective or adverb, depending on context.

But the socially uncertain ignoramuses torture their speech and contradict their meaning.

Churchill coined a good satire of the tendency with his sarcastic locution, “There are some things up with which I will not put”: torturing his sentence, this great writer, speaker, to avoid ending his sentence with a preposition!

Hell, speak comfortably: you’re likely to make the fewest errors: and people will best likely understand you.

If you’re afraid of teacher, afraid of Miss Manners, afraid of socially advantaged morons, then by all means, torture yourself trying, ignorantly, to guess what Emily Post would have told you to do.



About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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