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Feb 24, 2020
This week’s theme

This week’s words

Live Extraordinary, uchealth ad
“Live Extraordinary”

Previous week’s theme
Onomatopoeic words
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with Anu Garg

Reader Karen Pierce of Colorado Springs, Colorado, wrote:

Can you tell me what the noun is for the deliberate use of incorrect grammar, like this, published by University of Colorado Health marketing? It burns my eyeballs!

Let’s see, what could we call this strain of “Think different”, an Appleism? Adspeak? Crime against language? Solecism?

The word you may be looking for is “substantive”. It means, literally, standing under or in place of. A substantive is another word standing in place of a noun. When you say “Out with the old, in with the new” you’re using adjectives “old” and “new” as nouns. In the case of uchealth* when they said “Live extraordinary” maybe they meant “Live [an] extraordinary [life]” and pressed “extraordinary” into active duty as a noun.

Or maybe they wanted “Live extraordinary” to mean “Live extraordinarily” but couldn’t get their VP of Word Use to approve the use of the adverb. The adverb is a stepchild of the language. Language pundits have been advising people to use it sparingly or to shun it completely. (See here, here, and here.)

Perhaps advertising copywriters appear to have taken the advice of those pundits to heart, but these ads are not what they meant when they suggested avoiding the adverb.

An ad is supposed to catch eyeballs and make you think. And this deliberate misuse (uncommon use?) of language does get you thinking. Also, an ad is supposed to be innovative, just like the product.**

Hope your eyes feel better soon. I have heard the University of Colorado Health System has good ophthalmologists on staff. (Motto: See clear.)

Meanwhile in this week’s A.Word.A.Day we’ll see five adverbs. Think adverb! Or should that be: Think adverbly?

*Perhaps the SHIFT key was broken on their keyboard when designing the logo! Or maybe their motto is: Shift extraordinary!

**This adverbing of adjectives is not really an innovation though. Words such as “different” and “extraordinary” have been used as adverbs in the English language for at least 400 years.



adverb: Somewhat; to some degree.

From Old English sum (some) + dael (deal). Earliest documented use: 725.

“A great, sweet lady like you wouldn’t think it, of course, but it’s a godsend at times for a lone woman when she’s ugly enough to turn cream sour, and somedeal crooked o’ the body into the bargain.”
George W. Gough; The Yeoman Adventurer; G.P. Putnam’s Sons; 1917.

When once the itch of literature comes over a man, nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen. -Samuel Lover, songwriter, composer, novelist, and artist (24 Feb 1797-1868)

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