In Defense of the Adjective
Saturday, January 5, 2019 at 12:02AM
JW

I beg the privilege of demurring for a few moments against a high-flown disdain for the adjective. We’ve been cautioned by such proven masters as Ernest Hemingway, Clifton Fadiman and Mark Twain, to avoid the adjective as though it were a contagious disease. Here’s Fadiman:

“The adjective is the banana peel of the parts of speech.”

Mark Twain: “As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.”

Hemingway: “If an adjective happens, kill it.”

All of which seems to me a bum rap against the language enjoyed worldwide by people who use a homely but sturdy adjective every day, billions of us: “good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good night" in all the languages of our polyglot world; and, by way of reinforcement, most of us rely on convenient adjectives such as “passable, great, terrific” or “lousy.” Not to speak of the bonhomie generated worldwide around Christmas; and by the pleasant modifier in happy New Year.

NORMAN CORWIN

Article originally appeared on AdviceToWriters (http://www.advicetowriters.com/).
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