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disjunct

Patricia T. O'Conner, Woe Is I, rev. ed. (Riverhead Books, 2003). See Examples and Observations, below.

Definition:

(1) A type of sentence adverb that comments on the content or manner of what is being said or written.

See also:

(2) Any of two or more items connected by a disjunctive conjunction (or). See disjunction.

Etymology:

From the Latin, "to separate"

Examples and Observations (Definition #1):

  • "Strangely enough, they have a mind to till the soil, and the love of possessions is a disease in them."
    (Sitting Bull, Powder River Council Speech, 1875)


  • "Fortunately analysis is not the only way to resolve inner conflicts. Life itself still remains a very effective therapist."
    (attributed to German psychoanalyst Karen Horney)


  • "But sadly, one of the problems with being on public radio is that people tend to think you're being sincere all the time."
    (Ira Glass, quoted by Ana Marie Cox and Joanna Dionis in Mother Jones, September-October, 1998)


  • Regrettably, the book is no longer in print, but copies can be found in libraries and secondhand bookshops.


  • "Hopefully, the book will inspire readers to a wider interest in weather, atmospheric science, and earth science in general."
    (Keay Davidson, Twister. Pocket Books, 1996)


  • Hopefully--and Other Commentary Disjuncts
    - "It's time to admit that hopefully has joined that class of introductory words (like fortunately, frankly, happily, honestly, sadly, seriously, and others) that we use not to describe a verb, which is what adverbs usually do, but to describe our attitude toward the statement that follows. . . . But be aware that some sticklers still take a narrow view of hopefully. Will they ever join the crowd? One can only hope."
    (Patricia T. O'Conner, Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English, rev. ed. Riverhead Books, 2003)


    - "Long before the controversial use of hopefully came along, it was possible to marshal words like 'happily,' 'fortunately,' 'foolishly,' 'cleverly,' in dual roles, as manner adverbs or disjuncts: 'He spent all his money foolishly' or 'Foolishly, he spent all his money'; 'He landed fortunately in a haystack' or 'He landed in a haystack, fortunately'; 'She did not weave all of the tapestry cleverly,' 'Cleverly, she did not weave all of the tapestry.' All the howling about 'hopefully,' all the moralizing and execration, ignored the fact that a pattern of usage already existed, and that the hated word was merely taking up an available position. Other words of the same kind are currently being treated in the same way. One of them is 'regretfully,' which is now being used as a commentary disjunct with the meaning 'It is to be regretted that . . .' ('Regretfully, we cannot serve early morning tea'). This usage might be criticized on the grounds that we already have a perfectly adequate commentary disjunct in 'regrettably,' and that there can be no good reason for pressing an impostor into service. Users, however, are stubbornly unanswerable to the gods of good reason."
    (Walter Nash, An Uncommon Tongue: The Uses and Resources of English. Routledge, 1992)


  • Style Disjuncts and Content Disjuncts
    "There are two kinds of disjuncts: style disjuncts and content disjuncts. Style disjuncts express comments by speakers on the style or manner in which they are speaking: frankly as in Frankly, you have no chance of winning (= I am telling you this frankly); personally in Personally, I'd have nothing to do with them; with respect in With respect, it is not up to you to decide; if I may say so in They are rather rude, if I may say so; because she told me so in She won't be there, because she told me so (= I know that because she told me so). Content disjuncts comment on the content of what is being said. The most common express degrees of certainty and doubt as to what is being said: perhaps in Perhaps you can help me; undoubtedly in Undoubtedly, she is the winner; obviously in Obviously, she has no wish to help us."
    (Sidney Greenbaum, "Adverbial." The Oxford Companion to the English Language, ed. Tom McArthur, Oxford University Press, 1992)
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