Feeling “badly”

Jay Nordlinger points out our Education Secretary don’t speak English real good:

Arne Duncan, our illustrious education secretary, is all weepy over the young’uns in Texas. They don’t get no education, what with that mean Rick Perry in charge. Duncan said, “I feel very, very badly for the children there.”

He feels badly, does he? Something wrong with his sense of touch? He can’t tell wood from water from sand? Does he feel sadly and terribly and angrily too?

More on this at Language Log.

Tim Kowal

Tim Kowal is a husband, father, and attorney in Orange County, California, Vice President of the Orange County Federalist Society, commissioner on the OC Human Relations Commission, and Treasurer of Huntington Beach Tomorrow. The views expressed on this blog are his own. You can follow this blog via RSS, Facebook, or Twitter. Email is welcome at timkowal at gmail.com.


  1. Good Lord, he used a common idiom in casual speech? Hang him!

    Now, if he’d said

    That’s why I say I, like every American I’m speaking with, we’re ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But, ultimately, what the bailout does is help those
    who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, umm … helping the … uh, it’s got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

    I’d be worried.

    • I’d worry more about the person who read that speech and said that we needed to double down on it.

  2. To feel “badly,” while an unfortunate colloquialism, enjoys enough use that I don’t think it’s quite fair to Sec. Duncan to be this critical. Now, if he’d misused “literally, ” that would have been grounds to call for his resignation.

    • Yeah, much better to use an emphatic adverb that has nothing at all to do with something being genuinely the case, like “really“, “very“, “truly”, …

    • I wish I had Modern English Usage handy to see whether Fowler had anything to say about this. One of his favorite thing was to quote some bit of usage advice from an “expert”, and then show it being violated by first-rate writers from Shakespeare on. If you follow the Language Log link Tim provides, you see that Duncan is in the company of Dickens and Hardy, both of whom easily trump anyone who’s ever written for The Corner.

Comments are closed.