Wednesday, January 20, 2010

#31 Adverbs

Perhaps one of the most ubiquitous single girl moments of the past decade is that of single girl icon and badass, Kristin Cavallari, thoughtfully twirling a strand of her illustrious blonde hair while steadily chewing on a piece of gum and airily exclaiming, "Seriously??"

Yes, seriously.  What is it about adverbs that single girls love so much?  I mean, really.

Before I wholeheartedly embark on the usual circumlocutory explanation, first, a grammar lesson.  For those of you not paying much attention during your English classes in third grade, fourth grade, and/or fifth grade, you may be quizzically wondering: What is an adverb?

"An adverb can modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, a phrase, or a clause. An adverb indicates manner, time, place, cause, or degree."

Particularly in the English language, while adjectives only modify nouns and pronouns, adverbs modify everything else including themselves!  Indeed, adverbs are suitably versatile, in all manners of speaking, and quite literally.  Well done, adverbs! 

Those of us with liberal arts degrees are understandably decrying the untimely demise of the adverb as they have undoubtedly become a regular component of our vernacular. 

You see, something invariably happened after the women's liberation movement.  Suddenly, women were no longer simply respected for merely being that of the fairer sex.  In order to find ourselves (un)ceremoniously "hitched," we were now expected to be disarmingly well-spoken and smart.  How dare they give us the right to vote!

Ever since single girls began eloquently signing our letters "yours very truly" in third grade (and brazenly "modifying" everything we wrote by dotting our i's with hearts), we eventually figured out that multi-syllabic adverbs usually create the illusion of sounding genuinely articulate.  Hence, we see the exponentially rising employment of grandiloquent adverbs such as: literally, obviously, really, totally, literally, and, of course, seriously.

Unfortunately, plebians with smaller IQs are not only incorrectly using such adverbs as literally (ie. "I, like, literally, died"), they often ingratiatingly shorten them with abbrevations like "totes" (in lieu of "totally") and "obvi" (instead of "obviously").  I find this obnoxiously ridiculous and rather self-deteriorating.

Our affinity for adverbs does not unconditionally end here.  Possibly our love for the adverb stems from our love for details.

Remember how we said adverbs indicate manner, time, place, cause or degree?  Well, this means they blatantly answers questions such as "how," "when," "where," "how much," "how often," "underwhat condition," and "to what degree."

This is incredibly useful for interrogating friends and dirtbags we are dating, especially when adverbs are used as intensifiers.

An adverb as an emphasizer:
Q. How much do you like him?
A. I really like him!  He's totally cute!

An adverb as an amplifier:
Q. What do you think about David 4.0?
A. He is obscenely douchey! 

An adverb as a down-turner:
Q. You said she was what???
A. I never said she was "hot!"  She is only mildly attractive!  No, I did not mean "attractive!!"  Oh crap...

Generally speaking, adverbs are unfairly underrated and have even been publicly criticized.  Can single girls save the adverb?  Undoubtedly, inarguably, and of course, totally.