tragically - 'ironically'

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 7 22:03:02 UTC 2010

Thomas Weber,  Lecturer in Modern European, International, and Global
Political History at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, knows the
difference between tragedy and irony all right, but the lanuage that speaks
him and makes him its zombie slave has a different opinion.

In 1918  Corporal Adolf Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross, 1st Class, for
bravery.  He had a 2d Class Iron Cross already. The sad irony of the
situation is that the second award was recommended by a Jewish officer, Maj.
Hugo Gutmann.  (Gutmann and his immediate family luckily escaped to the U.S.
in 1939.)

Here's Weber's use of "tragically":

2010 Thomas Weber _Hitler's First War_ (N.Y.: Oxford U. P.) 215: For this
award, he tragically had to thank Hugo Gutmann, who by that time had risen
to regimental adjutant.

So far as I can tell, Weber is not given to the broad sarcasm that would
allow some such reading as, "Hitler thought it tragic that he had to thank
Gutmann."  And I see no indication that the second Iron Cross played a
decisive role in Hitler's rise to power.  (Whether he specially deserved
either one seems to be an open question.)

As _ironically_ comes to mean 'coincidentally; interestingly,' what replaces
'ironically'?  Could it be _tragically_?  Another linguistic lapse or
another glimpse of the linguistic future?

Tune in in 100 years.

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society -

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