REAL(LY) good (adv.)

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIOU.EDU
Fri Jul 26 20:40:48 UTC 2002

At 11:01 AM 7/26/2002 -0700, you wrote:
>A related tangent:
>All my life until a few years ago, I (and everyone else I knew) found it
>quite natural to say "real good (bad, nice, cold, etc.)"  I was
>peripherally aware that there were purists who thought everyone should say
>"really good," maintaining that "real" was an adjective, not an adverb, and
>never the twain should meet.  But no one I knew paid any attention.
>In recent months it's occurred to me that I hardly ever say, or hear, "real
>good" anymore.  I guess I use "really" if I use anything at all.  I can't
>attribute this change (if it is one) to pressure from purists, since the
>purists' argument in this case barely appeared on anyone's radar screen.
>It seems to me that people generally use "really" a lot more than they used
>to, in contexts where they wouldn't have used any intensifier in times
>past.  Maybe the two phenomena are connected.
>Has anyone else noticed this?
>Peter Mc.
Yes, I have, esp. in younger people, who tend to pronounce it, with
exaggerated stress, as "rilly" = [rIli].  It appears to be newly idiomatic
rather than a "learned correction" of adv. 'real'.  Didn't we discuss this
on the list some time back?

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