debate on "you did good"

Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Sat Aug 18 16:49:07 UTC 2001

I missed the beginning of this discussion, as I was off-list and in the US.
Before going there, I was told repeatedly by a couple of English people
that what they can't stand about American English is the use of adjectives
as adverbs.  I defended my homeland by saying (a) it's definitely
considered substandard in the US, and (b) some of the examples they were
citing were likely ironic uses of a substandard form.

Then I went home for a family wedding, and found that the adverb seems to
be almost dead there--there was no irony when people said things like "They
played real nice" or "he did good".  (Am I really related to these people?
Where did my idiolect come from?)  I will now keep my mouth shut when the
British complain to me about that particular aspect of American English.


M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

phone +44-(0)1273-678844
fax   +44-(0)1273-671320

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