© 2011 Josh gate


Dear Adverbs,

First, I should be clear, I am not addressing adverbial phrases, nor you clumps of words that become, through no merit of your own, adverbial clauses, I am directing this letter towards the adverbs that modify adjectives, usually identified by their inclusion of the letters ‘L’ and ‘Y’ in that order at their termination.

Adverbs, you are the most powerful words in the world. I don’t know why everyone hates you. You turn the expected into the ubiquitously present; the mundane into the terminally normal, the ordinary into the definably unremarkable.

You are so misunderstood, sweet adverbs, and because of that, you are a danger to yourself. Style guides, most often those for screenwriters, advise the author to eliminate adverbs when rewriting, suggesting that adverbs cheapen text. We are advised that suitable words exist to convey every concept, with no need for adverbs; that adverbs are somehow weak, or lazy.

You are so often abused and mistreated that, in great frequency, clever wordcraft degenerates into cliche, and worse, meaningless cliche. ‘Tragically hip’, besides being an iconic canadian rock band, is a phrase that could define a character with eloquence and effectiveness, but is, to our great misfortune, no longer of any value. Painfully sober, achingly beautiful, incredibly stupid; don’t let this be your legacy, don’t be remembered as the chaff of hacks, the fluff of the artless.

Adverbs, I believe you have it in you to earn new glory. Rise up from strings of newsprint, burst from the banality of inter-office emails, liven dull conversation with your ability to be amusing, evocative, and apt.

I leave it to you, adverbs, make yourselves known, show us your value, and for all of our benefit, leave literally the fuck home.

Yours truly,

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