Using adverbs carefully

Using adverbs carefully: This weblog has rarely considered the problem with adverbs until reading recently a post on Language Log referring to Elmore Leonard’s Fourth Rule of Writing:

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb ”said” . . .

. . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances ”full of rape and adverbs.”

The sinfulness of adverbs was the first thing that came to mind when seeing a report that Suzuki and Consumer Reports have settled finally an 8-year-old lawsuit the auto company brought against the magazine. According to the AP, Suzuki received no money, but Consumer Reports’ owner, Consumer Union, issued a statement that the results of a road test in 1988 of the company’s Samarai was written inaccurately.


“CU’s use of the adverb `easily’ may have been misconstrued and misunderstood,” it said in a statement. “CU never intended to state or imply that the Samurai easily rolls over in routine driving conditions.”

Let this be a lesson for all adverb sinners.

Geek epic

Geek epic: surfergirl Dana Stevens says the Tour de France pales next to what’s happening on Jeopardy. This year, the game show did away with its five-day “term limit” and Ken Jennings, a 30-year-old software engineer from Salt Lake, could top $900,000 if he wins today’s show, his 27th.

Little salesmen, big equipment

Little salesmen, big equipment: While this weblog has been traveling for the past 24 hours, some breaking news in the magazine industry slipped past it: It appears a company that publishes magazines for tiny sales people has acquired a magazine for “crane professionals.” The CEO says the acquisition is “a perfect addition to our My Little publications.” We think he should make up his mind: is it “our” little publications, or “my” little publications.