Wednesday, July 06, 2005


My wife calls it the smart man's obviously. But I think her impression of the word is colored by the fact that I started using it in regularly in Grad school. I hear a lot of different people use clearly.

I know exactly who influenced my use of it, but I won't out that person here. I know too that I probably started out just aping this person. It was all in fun. A few clearlys thrown into casual conversation here and there. Nothing heavy. Just social use. But then I started using it more. I came to rely on it. Now I use it all the time.

I would never use obviously. It's too clumsy. There's something about that b to v syllable contact. And then the weak transition between the second syllable and the third. I really don't get the appeal of obviously. Clearly, the right choice is clearly.

I love the implication that what you are about to say is the the most bald-faced fact. No one can argue your statement. It's clear as a mother's old bell.


Maryann Devine said...

I like using "clearly" -- gives me more credibility, and I need all the credibility I can get. "Obviously" seems to imply that you're talking down to your listener. I feel like a blowhard using "obviously." -- Maryann

Eric Bakovic said...

A recent graduate of UCSD's program, Gina Taranto (who did her undergrad at UCSC like me) recently finished her dissertation about adjectives like "clear" (and its derivatives), which she calls "discourse adjectives". You can find links to Gina's work here.

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