[Ads-l] Apparent Antedating of "Hopefully" as a Sentence Adverb

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Fri Nov 23 07:52:16 EST 2018


Years ago I published an article in American Speech antedating the word "hopefully" in its controversial use as a sentence adverb (as in "Hopefully, Trump will be a one-term President").  This usage had been regarded as a barbaric mid-20th century innovation influenced by the German "Hoffentlich," but I found it used by Cotton Mather in 1702.

Now I have discovered in Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership what appears to be a sentence-adverbial usage in the following work:

Title: The trauellers ioy: or, A sermon on the third verse of the second chapter of Salomons song. By Master Iohn Adamson, minister of the Word of God at Liberton.
Author: Adamson, John, d. 1653.
Publication info: London, : Printed by Iohn Hauiland for Henry Bell., 1623.


Such an early occurrence seems "too good to be true," but I believe that this is a genuine sentence-adverbial use.  Here is the relevant passage, appearing at the very end of the book (unnumbered page) with "hopefully" being the fourth-last word.



And this night (wee beseech thee) redouble thy blessings vpon vs that are humbled in prayer before thee, blesse vs in body, blesse vs in soule, blesse vs in the basket, blesse vs in the store, blesse vs in whatsoeuer belong vnto vs within doores and with∣out: giue vnto our bodies a comfor∣table rest and sleepe, pitch thine Angels about our tents, that nothing may destroy them, and keepe our soules from sleeping in sinne and the seducings of Satan: that wee (being blessed of thee in soule and body in this world) may haue the surer hope and truer hold of euerlasting saluation from thee at that screeching day of iudgement to come: and that for Iesus Christ his sake, who (we hope) at this present intercedeth to thee for vs, for a prosperous blessing from thee vpon vs, to whom with thee and thy holy spirit (three persons, but one God) we desire to returne all glory, honour, do∣minion, and thanksgiuing, this night and euerlastingly to come, both here on earth, and hereafter hope∣fully in Heauen. Amen.


Sentence-adverbial "hopefully" can be difficult to distinguish from the simple "with hope" meaning, but I have two arguments for this 1623 usage being sentence-adverbial.  First, "hopefully in Heaven" makes perfect sense as meaning "it is to be hoped that we will be in Heaven everlastingly."  Second, "hopefully in Heaven" in the simple meaning of "feeling hope while we are in Heaven" makes no sense -- if there is one thing we know about Heaven, it is that we won't have to hope for anything while there, as we will already be in a perfect place.

I would welcome input as to whether my argument above is logical.

Fred Shapiro
Editor
Yale Book of Quotations (Yale University Press)



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