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HONORING MY MOTHER | Immortalizing Safire




HE had been right all along. American author, columnist, journalist, and presidential speechwriter William Safire, in one of his New York Times column during the 80s, wrote about the redundancy of adding an ”_ly” to ordinal numbers.

One of the reasons for this, he had explained, was that they already functioned as both adjectives and adverbs all by themselves.

The use of firstly, or secondly and so forth had even before that time, gained wide acceptance among English speakers and writers. Safire also noted that, if this were the case, it would be so awkward to write fifteen-ly, or even eighthly, if the practice continued.

However, sorry to mislead anyone, but this is as far as we go, with this grammar check. I had just thought of Safire upon reading a related article, and nothing else after that really. English after all’s just a second language that had just been shoved the throats of our ancestors a long time ago.

Despite all that, there’s a hidden mickey in this. In all of life, a wrong can never be made a right, even if it had evolved to eventually appear as such, and the majority had began to perceive it as acceptable.

In the same way, a Jesuit teacher had once told us, “just because everyone has caught the colds doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good thing.” (As an aside, a duh statement right? Coming from a “man for others”, that was a duh even before duh was born.)

Come to think of it, I have seen a few examples in my youth that may have changed, in terms of both perception and acceptance. Firstly (hahaha) and without resorting and to delving into political discourse, I am sure that every oldie here is ever aware of how people’s views of some dead and some-still-living politicians had changed through the years.

By this I mean that in many cases, a lot of the villains of old had become heroes today and vice versa. I’ve never subscribed to the ideas that for one, time heals all wounds, and second, forget the past and move on.

If one were to seriously analyze the way of all things on a case-to-case basis, and then employing proper context, these popular sayings may only reveal themselves as plainly romantic, and mushy even. If at all, if in this case a politician had been bad ergo corrupt, that’s permanently on his record until he’s gone ergo dead.

Nevertheless, it can also be true that in the proper context, and once all factors had also been taken into consideration, time may indeed heal some wounds.

For example, if one that had done you wrong had said sorry, promised not to do it again, and worked at it that all will be better, he would have already ticked all the components that constituted a real form of “sorry” or atonement. Thus, healing might be possible.

In a related sense, presently accepting something that had been unfavorable in the past just because it had become widely-accepted, does not at all change anything. Dress up a simian in a suit, and it is still a monkey.

In the end, ho-hum, a lot can be had since when we firstly started, right? For starters, while some trapos may have indeed already turned in their graves, all this reminiscing of Safire and his weekly writes may have, of course stirred up the pot a bit. In a grammar sense, stop using “ly” to make adverbs of numerals. In another sense, just remember the lesson of the suited monkey.

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