There, the dog Argos…as he had perceived that Odysseus had come close to him; he wagged his tail, and laid both his ears back; only he now no longer had the strength to move any closer to his master, who, watching him from a distance, without Eumaios noticing, secretly wiped a tear away. – Odyssey, Book XVII, 300-305 (trans. Richmond Lattimore)
Everybody gets performance reviews. I get them. I get student feedback. I get observed. I am told, reminded, informed, regaled, chided, praised, warned, noted in passing. I do a lot of things wrong.
Only the word is actually wrongly. It’s an adverb.
Wrong is a value word. In ethical theory, Wrong is the opposite of Right, which is itself the action or behavior which emerges from a moral position based in intent and will, not in consequence or outcome. Consequential theories use the words “Good” and “Bad” to describe their outcomes; nonconsequential and virtue theories use the words “Right” and “Wrong.” Wrong is an ill-intentioned motive, an ill will, a means to an end, an injustice.
Wrongly, the adverb, means, “You screwed it up. A bit.”
You added that up wrong.
Surely that is not an ethical judgment. It is a qualification.
You did the assignment wrong.
Rarely do I ever say that to a student. I’m more likely to note something on their paper like, “I would have liked to see you focus on X rather than Y,” or “Explain in what way your response provides clarity on Z.”
So today, in Writing 101, we were told if you write using a lot of adverbs, you’re doing it wrong.
We’ve all heard it.
Show, don’t tell. Use active verbs. Should we use those verbs
I watched my dog today when I came home. My head was pounding, as it had been
all day, but watching her made me feel a little better. You know, dogs NEVER tell; they can’t. They can only show. But I realized that
dogs are always speaking in adverbs, because the tail does not
wag; it wags
frantically or eagerly
the eyes do not shine but shine
the love is given
and so, my head still hurting and my mind wandering
I write this piece with the warm dog pressed up against my legs
and even the wily Odysseus has to wipe a tear away
So I say
Screw You, assignment Day 8.