20 October 2014

Moan on Monday - adverbial overload

The world is sad about Colonel Meow (via)
Does no-one simply "die" - or rather, do newspaper reports not allow them to simply die? Every time you read a report of a death, the person has "sadly died". Soon there will be a new word in the language: sadlydied, replacing died ... in much the same way that "suggested" has replaced "said" in recent years (but that's another rant altogether).

I suspect a subeditor was at work in this sentence: "At present, about 8,000 people have been confirmed as diagnosed with Ebola, and of those 3,865 have, sadly, died. " Does the Guardian's style book have guidance on sadly died, detailing situations in which it needs to be bracketed by commas?

A search for "sadly died" (in quotes, entire phrase) gets only 549,000 hits ... perhaps there's hope yet. No, wait - "sadly he died" (no quotes) gets 22,600,000 hits, and "sadly she died" gets 5,240,000 ... and "sadly died", no quotes, gets 22,700,000, presumably including a lot of the "he"s and "she"s.

Sadly here can mean "unfortunately" ... but the ludicrous spectre of the person being sad to be dying will keep rearing its head as I read yet another occurrence of the phrase.

Furthermore, a death toll, eg in the current ebola outbreak, isn't just high (48% of those infected), but "tragically high" ... possibly because a nice long word was needed (high is just four letters, after all), and nothing sensible could be thought of.


Kathleen Loomis said...

what a fascinating observation! I think sadlydied is a britishism as I have not come across it (yet) in the US.

for several years I have been combing the obituaries for different euphemisms. hardly anybody dies in the obits here; they pass, or pass on, or enter into rest, or go home to be with their Heavenly Father, or play their last hole of golf or many many other things. someday I want to turn these into a work of conceptual art.

but I have not yet run across anybody who sadlydied. will have to keep looking.

irene macwilliam said...

Margaret your rant sounds like those we have, on reading your piece to my husband he reminded me of the obit that he once read-- he unexpectedly died at the age of 101 (or some figure over the century).
I could not agree with you more on your comments above.
Interesting to read the comments of Kathleen Loomis.

irene macwilliam said...

Further to your article and my comments above my husband asks- What are your views on, the foreseeable future?