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QT's proclamations again... Login/Join
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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You all know QT by now. He (Zay Smith) writes a column in the Sun Times about this and that, and quite often talks about words or grammar. He often makes these loud proclamations...but never explains them.

Here is what he tells us today: "most importantly," "secondly" (I agree about "firstly), "thirdly," are all wrong. You should say, "Most important, you should not...." You should also say "First, you should put on your coat; second you should put on your hat; and third you should put on your mittens"...never using "secondly" and "thirdly." While I see that his way is correct, I also think using the "ly" is correct. Am I wrong?

By the way, he also says that an out of control car "careers" through the intersection, doesn't "careen," and this usage note validates that, though acknowledges that using "career" that may now sound pedantic. I hadn't known that.
 
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Firstly is only about as wrong as more better.

In the sentence above, what part of speech is firstly?
 
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Okay. I did say that I agreed that "firstly" is wrong. Are "secondly," "thirdly," and "most importantly" wrong as well?

As far as "career," I see that it comes from the French word "carriére," meaning racecourse and that it can mean to rush. Does anyone here ever use it that way?
 
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Well, I don't agree firstly is "wrong." I think it is a beastly word and I don't like it, but it's not "wrong."

Here's what the AHD says about firstly:

quote:
first·ly (fûrstl)
adv.

In the first place; to begin with.

Usage Note: It is well established that either first or firstly can be used to begin an enumeration: Our objectives are, first (or firstly), to recover from last year's slump. Any succeeding items should be introduced by words parallel to the form that is chosen, as in first... second... third or firstly... secondly... thirdly.

I know there are those of you who pooh-pooh the AHD and regard the OED as the "final authority." Here's what the OED Online says:
quote:
firstly, adv.
In the first place, before anything else, first.
Used only in enumerating heads, topics, etc. in discourse; and many writers prefer first, even though closely followed by secondly, thirdly, etc.
The word is not in Johnson's Dict. Smart (1846) s.v. First has the note: ‘Some late authors use Firstly for the sake of its more accordant sound with secondly, thirdly, etc.’

c1532[ G. DU WES Introd. Fr. in Palsgr. 928 Fyrstly, premierment. 1562 J. HEYWOOD Prov. & Epigr. (1867) 216 Walke thou fyrstly, walke thou lastly: Walke in the walke that standeth fastly. 1668 WILKINS Real Char. 393 The Adverb, Firstly, secondly, thirdly. 1723 LADY M. W. MONTAGU Lett. (1893) I. 466 A most delightful [ballad]..which has been laid firstly to Pope, and secondly to me. 1726 Ibid. I. 495 Firstly, she was pleased to attack me in very Billingsgate at a masquerade. 1816 SCOTT Old Mort. iv, The consequence thereof..will be, firstly, that I will tweak thy proboscis or nose. 1847 DE QUINCEY Sp. Mil. Nun §5 First (for I detest your ridiculous and most pedantic neologism of firstly). 1857 GLADSTONE Oxf. Ess. 1 These objects are twofold: firstly, to promote [etc.].

Notice that it is a very old word, dating to about 1532, though the writer of the 1847 quote called it a "pedantic neologism."

The Mavens' Word of the Day by Random House has a good article about firstly. I won't quote the whole article, just a few sentences.

quote:
Granted that neither first nor firstly is a hanging offense, even professional lexicographers may have a personal preference.

Ultimately, the choice is one of style: Since first is a perfectly good adverb just as it stands, there is no need for the -ly. As E.B. White put it in the chapter he contributed to Strunk and White's The Elements of Style (1959): "Do not dress words up by adding 'ly' to them, as though putting a hat on a horse."

So I submit that, though the word is intensely disliked by some, it is not "wrong."

More importantly is also an abominmation to my ears. Paul Brians,
Department of English, Washington State University, condemns it outright:

quote:
When speakers are trying to impress audiences with their rhetoric, they often seem to feel that the extra syllable in “importantly” lends weight to their remarks: “and more importantly, I have an abiding love for the American people.” However, these pompous speakers are wrong. It is rarely correct to use this form of the phrase because it is seldom adverbial in intention. Say “more important” instead. The same applies to “most importantly”; it should be “most important.”

My feeling is not that strong. I think it is again a matter of style and personal preference. Brians has a lengthy list of "Common Errors in English Usage."

Here's what the The American Heritage Book of English Usage says:

quote:
Some people object to the use of the phrase more importantly in place of more important as a means of introducing an assertion, as in More importantly, there is no one ready to step into the vacuum left by the retiring senator. But both forms are widely used, and there is no obvious reason for preferring one or the other.

So, pick whichever you prefer. If you don't agree with me, I won't consider you an ignorant clod.

Tinman

This message has been edited. Last edited by: tinman,
 
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My feeling is not that strong. I think it is again a matter of style and personal preference.

I agree, Tinman, and I have really learned that here. I have learned not to be too picky, as long as the basics aren't forgotten (like the wrong use of an apostrophe).

I have heard some people say, "First off," and I assume that's correct too. However, "first off"???? Where did that come from?
 
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This is from the Chicago Manual of Style Questions and Answers
Q. I have often disliked authors in the habit of introducing a statement with “Firstly” or “Secondly,” and so on. Are there any good rules on this or should it be banished from usage?

A. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (which Chicago follows) seems just fine with “firstly,” and “secondly.” And according to this discussion at a Random House Web site , they are perfectly pedigreed adverbs. So I guess you’ll have to find another reason for disliking authors.

Tinman
 
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I see I'm repeating myself. Sorry.

Tinman
 
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Is not "first" an adjective or noun, whereas "firstly" is an adverb?


Richard English
 
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Is not "first" an adjective or noun, whereas "firstly" is an adverb?

First is a noun, an adjective, and an adverb. Firstly is only an adverb. The latter came into use in the 16th century, while the former has been in use since at least the 11th century.
 
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Good old QT...he always has the facts.

Here is what he writes about popes:

58 popes have been non-Italians, including 15 Greeks, 15 Frenchmen, 6 Germans, and 1 Englishman. (I know, I wondered what happened to the rest, too!)

The 46th pope those must have had a sense of humor...he was Pope Hilarius.
 
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The only English Pope was Nicholas Breakspear who ruled from December 4, 1154 as Adrian IV.

I do not know whether or not he was connected with the famous brewing family!


Richard English
 
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quote:
The only English Pope was Nicholas Breakspear who ruled from December 4, 1154 as Adrian IV.


Have we forgotten Alexander Pope? (as pointed out by Dan Brown, whom Im ashamed to be quoting)
 
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In today's QT: "Shuffle off this mortal coil" doesn't in fact mean to die, but it means to rid oneself of the constaints of one's physical existence, as you might "shuffle off your coat" on a warm day.

I thought this phrase came from Hamlet and specifically means "to die." Am I nuts, or is QT?
 
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quote:
I thought this phrase came from Hamlet and specifically means "to die." Am I nuts, or is QT?

But what is the difference between dying and ridding oneself of the constraints of one's physical existence? None that I can think of.

Edit. I meant to write "existence" for the final word in the penultimate sentence. I have corrected my error.

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Richard English
 
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It's both really. It using being rid of your mortal cares and worries a coy euphemistic way of saying die. Rather like saying "I want to use the little boys room" is a coy euphemistic way of saying I need to empty my bladder.
 
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