Friday, 20 November 2009

Lies, damned lies and Google stats

I can and did walk away from being called (deep breath) "ridiculous", "sanctimonious", "not as capable as he thinks he is", "smarmy", "the Leader" of a "cult”, "on his high horse", "over-inflated", "deluded”, "pompous”, "Spoilt Bastard", "big-headed", "incompetent" and "smug”. What I can't walk away from is being accused of "telling lies" and then - just in case I didn’t get the message - "outright lies", followed by "lies, for Heaven's sake!" (the caps lock is probably coming next).

First, I said that Googling "unadvisably" - AKA the Adverb From Hell (AFH) - brought up a host of hits from a bunch of eminent authors and publications, from Milton to the present day. And indeed it does - with over six hundred citations in the Google Books corpus alone (to give you an idea of how conclusive that is, that’s twenty times as many citations as come up for its first cousin "ill-judgedly", a word that Fay Weldon has used in print without anyone accusing her of not knowing bad writing from good).

Second, I said that the AFH was in The Concise Oxford Dictionary. And indeed it is — or rather "unadvisable" and "advisably" are, but with this note in the "Using this Dictionary" section:

The inflection of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs is given when it is irregular, or when, though regular, it causes difficulty

That, in case it needs spelling out (and in this case I fear it probably does), means that an adverb won't be included if it’s regular, as the AFH is, and causes no difficulties, as the AFH doesn't - or at least managed not to for several hundred years until they started braying "It's not a word!" at it on the Internet.

I can't even remember why I used the AFH in the first place. It's certainly not a word I bandy about in my everyday conversation. I assume I may have wanted to avoid using another adjective beginning with an "i" in the sentence it appeared in, or something subconsciously style-driven of a similar sort. Hell, it may even have been a typo, and I let it stand because I knew full well that, while not particularly common, it's a perfectly kosher word - as Google Books and dictionaries then more than confirmed.

So there we have it. More lies than you can shake your dic at. Six hundred and eight of them, in fact.

To paraphrase the bloke who inadvertently started this whole surreal and sorry saga: fuck off, middlerabbit.

.

15 comments:

Iain McKinney said...

I've finally sussed you, Archie. Your Gyles Brandreth. Or Richard Stilgoe.

Come back to Wordland, I love dictionary related shenanigans!

Cheers!

robram said...

Don't leave the word, archie. I'll still follow you on Twitter but your presence on the august site is imperative. What would it do without the 'ever-reliable' Archie V?

PaulV said...

If it's any consolation, Archie, "advisably" IS in the 1990s edition of the Concise OD, under "advisable". Which pretty much clinches the validity of the negated "un-" form of the adverb. Didn't bother mentioning it on the Word discussion, which had morphed into a parade of people stating their beliefs as facts. This is never a healthy environment into which to inject actual documented evidence.

elhombremalo said...

I'd prefer it if you came back to share your erudition with us.

Having had a short exchange with him, I now plan to ignore Middlerabbit.

all the best!

Archie Valparaiso said...

Excelente,Paul. I owe you one. I've edited the post to include the extra info.

Adman said...

Well said Archie. I would like you to return to The Word. I enjoyed our exchange about movies a while back and watched both 'Downfall' and "The Conversation' on your recommendation. Four hours well spent. Your exit was elegant, but you would be welcomed back.

Archie Valparaiso said...

Iain, robram, adman, elhombremalo: Aw. Actually I wasn't drama-queening (is that in the dictionary?) quite as much as it may have appeared. I had been thinking about dramatically cutting down on my contributions to the Word blog for some time -needs must, heavier workload, etc. - and all our floppy-eared pal did was give me a somewhat premature push, so I made the most of it and got out while the going was, er, bad.

Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated - really.

Vulpes Vulpes said...

Phew, I've just ploughed my way to the end of the AFH (Argument From Hell) on the Word blog. I read the rapidly escalating saga of lupine auto-destruction with growing disbelief. The poor bloke just doesn't get it. I sort of feel sorry for him, but if we'd all been in the pub I would have just blurted out, "For fuck's sake give it a rest, you're boring everyone and making yourself look like a berk while you're doing it". No doubt I'd now be consulting a dental surgeon, and big ears would be looking at the inside of the local clink. Catch you around, Archie, don't leave it too long before you Word again, you're a pleasure to share a blog with. Yours in vulpine good humour.

Iain McKinney said...

Archie, I'll add this blog to my favourites, and we'll keep in touch. Take care.

Lee Rimmer said...

Just wanted to say I have enjoyed your word posts over the last couple of years (and your Marina Hyde recommendations). Have fun and drop in and post now and again.

Steven C said...

Archie - always enjoyed your posts. I cannot think of one that was less than entertaining, and often joyously surreal. I'll drop by here from time to time to keep in touch but ... re The word, haste back and post post haste.

Lucas Hare said...

Always a pleasure, Archie. Take care and hope to hear from you again.

Anonymous said...

Hey ho, even less reason to continue even logging in and reading.........
Regards from the hinterland, Retro (2).

Archie Valparaiso said...

Retro!

Oh, I'll still be reading. But since the summer the blog has been competitive bollocks instead of the collaborative bollocks it used to be, and when it stops being fun, it's time to head for them thar hills. I got an e-mail from another blogger "lost in action" who's exit a few weeks ago was far more discreet than mine, saying much the same thing.

Good to hear from you, anyway, and I hope all's well with you, post-blog. If you want to drop me a line, my address is archievalparaiso@yahoo.co.uk

Archie Valparaiso said...

Vulpes, Iain, Lee, Steven, Lucas:
The above goes for you too. Thank you!