[Ads-l] Apparent Antedating of "Hopefully" as a Sentence Adverb (Corrected Version of Posting)

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Nov 26 18:51:53 UTC 2018

Obviously (another sentence adverb), Bill is about a thousand times more knowledgeable about Christian doctrine than I am.  I withdraw my argument.


From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Bill Mullins <amcombill at HOTMAIL.COM>
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2018 12:18 PM
Subject: Re: Apparent Antedating of "Hopefully" as a Sentence Adverb (Corrected Version of Posting)

Here's a doctrinal argument against your reading:

In the New Testament, "hope" generally has a meaning specific to the promise of everlasting life with Christ for the elect (saved).  If one uses "hope" normally and says, "I hope for a good birthday", there is the idea that birthday may be good, or it may not --  the outcome is could go either way.  But in NT usage, for those who have accepted Christ, the outcome is not in doubt -- it is a solid promise.  Thus, Titus 1:1-2:
"(1) Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— (2) in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,"

So, for the Christian, "it is to be hoped that we will be in Heaven everlastingly"  is the reading that does not make sense -- it is not "to be hoped", it is known _with certainty_ that "we will be in Heaven everlastingly" (at least, for those who have accepted Him.)  And once in Heaven, the saved will retain forever that hope while in Heaven -- the promise of everlasting life with Christ is good for all eternity, and they will always be "with hope" -- thus "hopefully".

> 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 hopefully 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)

The American Dialect Society - https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.americandialect.org&data=02%7C01%7Cfred.shapiro%40yale.edu%7C5a81ea718aed4694c0a808d653c33ab4%7Cdd8cbebb21394df8b4114e3e87abeb5c%7C0%7C0%7C636788495306000823&sdata=FyWOj8eqaupvWRNGRSs1o1f4myXDpLNzB%2BwCAInBABc%3D&reserved=0

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list