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Author Topic: On the usage of adverbs  (Read 9882 times)
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Artimidor Federkiel
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« on: 24 August 2010, 15:42:32 »

As I'm in the process of revising a text of mine I had to look something up regarding the correct use of adverbs and came across the following page:

Those "ly" Ending Adverbs

In short: The guy makes very strong arguments not to use any adverbs. Well, and I think this is cool advise which I should have heeded before already... lol Hope Judy as our resident teacher also sees it that way, would love to hear her opinion on this. As far as I'm concerned I can only recommend reading through that page!
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Deklitch Hardin
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« Reply #1 on: 24 August 2010, 17:38:04 »

lol

I read through it ... interesting

Well ... as another resident teacher, I totally disagree with what that person says. We encourage our students how their character does something or says something. To me, it is a question of style, and while some may like not to use adverbs I think I'll stick with what I was taught, and what I teach.
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Shabakuk Zeborius Anfang
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« Reply #2 on: 22 October 2010, 05:47:49 »

Yes, I know, this thread has been dormant for two months. But I'll reply anyway, so there.

I agree with much of what Erick Emert says. Tell me that "she hissed" or "she barked", and not that "she said angrily". Let him "saunter off", rather than "move away slowly". Unimaginatively used, adverbs do make for bad writing, especially because they encourage small vocabulary: with adverbs, you can splash superficial gloss on your boring verbs, instead of taking the trouble to look for the truly colourful verb, which really paints the scene you want the reader to imagine.

Also, in reporting direct speech, I think it's often much better to simply use "she said"/"he said", without any adverbs (and without special verbs like 'shout' or 'cry' or 'whisper'), because this leaves the reader free to infer and imagine the speaker's voice and intonation from the substance of what is said, and from the context. If it's good writing, that'll work a lot of the time. Trying to explain too much only weakens the dramatic impact. That's what I think, anyway.

Nonetheless, I don't agree that adverbs should be banned. Judge for yourself. The following is from Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere":

  An entire ecology had evolved around the ornamental fountain in the centre of the well, which had for a long time been neither particularly ornamental nor a fountain. A cracked and leaking water-pipe nearby had, with the aid of some rainwater, transformed it into a breeding ground for a number of little frogs who plopped about cheerfully, rejoicing in the freedom from any non-airborne natural predators. Crows and blackbirds and even occasional seagulls, on the other hand, regarded the place as a cat-free delicatessen with a special on frogs.
  Slugs sprawled indolently under the springs of the burnt mattresses; snails left slime trails across the broken glass. Large black beetles scuttled industriously over the smashed grey plastic telephones and mysteriously mutilated barbie dolls.


There is an adverb in almost every sentence. Notice that almost all of the modified verbs are strong and expressive (plopped about cheerfully, sprawled indolently, scuttled industriously) - and that so are the adverbs. This is not lazy use of adverbs for want of vocabulary; it's imaginative use of all the possibilities of language to create an entertaining description that is bursting with irony.

(The 'joke' is that while the frogs and the birds and the beetles may live a paradisical life, their home also serves as a den to two demonic villains. It's a place where deeds of stomach-rending cruelty are planned and, eventually,  rolleyes committed.)

Anyway, to return to the question: I'd venture to say that adverbs ought to be used sparingly, but that they ought to be used.
« Last Edit: 23 October 2010, 15:37:48 by Shabakuk Zeborius Anfang » Logged

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Bard Judith
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« Reply #3 on: 22 October 2010, 08:48:33 »

Like ground red pepper, sprinkled here and there to add colour and accent to a dish...not (as in so much of our Korean university cafeteria food)  stirred through an otherwise boring dish to give it one monotonously searing 'flavour'...
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« Reply #4 on: 22 October 2010, 09:54:17 »

I'm going to bring up what I've learned from two sources.

The first source is the brilliantly written, The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr., and E.B. White..
The second source is the equally brilliant, but ineffably different, On Writing: a memoir of the craft by Stephen King.

Quote from: Chapter V: An Approach to Style. (with a list of reminders)
Adverbs are easy to build. Take an adjective or participle, add -ly and behold! you have an adverb. But you'd probably be better off without it. Do not write tangledly. The word itself is a tangle. Do not even write tiredly. Nobody says tangledly and not many people say tiredly. Words that are not orally used are seldom the ones put to paper.

EXAMPLES

Do not dress up words by adding -ly to them, as though putting a hat on a horse.

EXAMPLES (including and limited to: overly/over, muchly/much, thusly/thus)

In On Writing: a memoir of the craft, not only does Stephen King refer to the above rule of style, but he also adds:

Quote
"I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs. To put it another way, they're like dandelions."

He also adds:
WARNING: Extremely rough quote ahead.
Do not use adverbs in speech modifiers.

(I've bolded the above term because, for the life of me, I can't remember what it's called, and I have no wish to dig through the book; it's fairly sizeable. It's a term for the adverb you place after "said <name>, <adverb>" or "<name> exclaimed, <shoutingly|adverb>". So, if anyone knows the term I'm looking for, give me a hand.)

Quote from: The article Artimidor linked to
At this point you might be thinking I have an axe to grind concerning this issue. Perhaps, but maybe not.
Actually, at this point, I'd tell the man to be quiet. Refer to my two sources above. This guy is a fool, and not a particularly good one.


End note: like Judith said, "sprinkled here and there". I just added some quotes and sources.

(And I'll see you all after the weekend.)
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Artimidor Federkiel
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« Reply #5 on: 22 October 2010, 15:06:11 »

Well, I guess precondition for reducing adverbs to a minimum is to have a very firm grip on your language. You just need to know lots of synonyms for everything you could express by just adding an adverb without much thought. That's not always easy. And this is even tougher if your native language is not English I'd say. And of course a strict rule like banning it altogether isn't helpful either. However, I think it is important to be aware of this issue, recognize what's behind it and try to avoid unnecessary usage if you want to improve your writing. And in that sense - even though I might still be a bloody beginner as far as reducing adverbs is concerned - I think at least that I've learned something :)
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« Reply #6 on: 22 October 2010, 17:07:06 »

It is the same with adjectives. I'm registered in a German writing board and have a look now and then. They tend to demand to rigorously cut rip out an excess of adjectives (where I admit I love them).
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« Reply #7 on: 22 October 2010, 23:48:41 »

Adverbs! Yay!

I find i make a distinction about whát it is i'm writing, when it comes to my adverb policy. Whenever i try my hand at storytelling, i will avoid them far more than when i am writing discriptive texts(read; entries for the compendium). Which is fairLY obviousLY, when lookingLY at my own work; it's positiveLY teemingLY with the buggers!
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Azhira Styralias
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« Reply #8 on: 23 October 2010, 01:34:18 »

First, what's an adverb? Do my entries have alot of them? I was never good with English so can anyone point out if I do it? I still don't get what's wrong with adverbs. The last class I took in English was high school over 15 years ago and since then, I just write what I write. I tend to learn how to write from stories I read.

(is that why I suck?)
« Last Edit: 23 October 2010, 01:37:13 by Azhira Styralias » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: 23 October 2010, 02:15:56 »

All those words that come with a -ly at the end and more. Just read the link Art provided in his first post :)

Hmm, if I remember right - hope the tranlations fits - you can always ask yourself: In which manner is something 'done'  - then you need to add a - ly to the adjective.

It was done wrongly. (or 'well',  that would be an adverb without - ly)
« Last Edit: 23 October 2010, 02:19:37 by Ta'lia of the Seven Jewels » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: 23 October 2010, 11:06:53 »

Azhira, your writing is delightfully done, and happily constructed.   It is obviously clear that you are learning to write meticulously and lovingly, by reading over the beautifully-written stories that you have carefully chosen for your models.   And in case it is not equally bountifully clear that ADVERBS are words which modify or describe VERBS (just as ADjectives modify and describe just about everything else), you may cautiously read over this cunningly-contrived paragraph one more time with an eye for the words which end in -LY...

Affectionately yours,
Judith
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« Reply #11 on: 23 October 2010, 11:07:51 »

P.S.  Thou sucketh not.

XOXO!
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« Reply #12 on: 23 October 2010, 15:59:11 »

Would have been cool, Judith, if you had said a word about the 'fitting' of my construction also.   cry  I might know what an adverb is, but my English still sucks.  noidea

@Azhira

I missed your last little remark (dammed dirty glasses!). As Judy said, you do not suck, I admired your Osthemangar revision when I skimmed through the additions. You are trying to make your entries perfect. And you improved since you are here. As I did - I dare not to read my first submissions, have to revamp them soon ;)
« Last Edit: 23 October 2010, 16:04:22 by Ta'lia of the Seven Jewels » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: 23 October 2010, 22:42:43 »

Quote
(is that why I suck?)

No dear, that's just because you stubbornly(OH NOES! AN ADVERB!) refuse to acknowledge (did i even spell that right?) the Inevitable Nybelmarian Supremacy in all things imaginable(adverb!). Except spelling, apparently(not an adverb!). But we still love you despite this gruesome(adverb!) and self-evident(adverb!) character-flaw.
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Avrah Kehabhra

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« Reply #14 on: 23 October 2010, 22:55:25 »

NICE try, my dear Nybelmarnian.   I am quite sure that 'gruesome' is an ADJECTIVE (describing a person, place, or thing), while 'gruesomely' would be the matching ADVERB (describing a verb).   

Hint for anyone who is still confused:

ADJECTIVES SONG (sweet little camping-themed song):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYzGLzFuwxI&feature=related

ADVERB SONG: (even funnier, with Mr. Lolly Senior)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7wnT8iiR8w&feature=related
« Last Edit: 24 October 2010, 00:01:26 by Artimidor Federkiel » Logged

"Give me a land of boughs in leaf /  a land of trees that stand; / where trees are fallen there is grief; /  I love no leafless land."   --A.E. Housman
 
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