Friday, January 11, 2008

Is it "eat local" or "eat locally?"

As a historian and editor, I spend a good part of my day dealing with words, fiddling with this or that for the perfect meaning and tone. I don't always get it right, but I've been doing it long enough that I have developed some pet peeves about American word usage. One of these is our regular use of adjectives in place of adverbs. If you happen to be standing close to me when someone says something along the lines of "Grab it quick!" you'll likely here me mumbling "ly" under my breath and emitting a sigh. I had just assumed that the phrase "eat local" was another example of this lazy American habit. For certainly "local" modifies the verb "eat" and should therefore be the adverb "locally," right? Against my better judgement, I have used the "eat local" phrase because it seemed to be the accepted usage (but I have not done so without cringing a bit).

I recently read something that may help me move beyond this (as I'm sure you're thinking) ridiculous concern. Language Log deftly defends the use of "eat local" instead of "eat locally" because "'buy locally' commits me only to carrying out the transaction of purchasing in the local area, without any implication about where the stuff I buy comes from. In contrast, "buy local" is naturally interpreted to mean "buy local stuff.'" Hmmm, I'm listening. Read the whole explanation here.


Diane said...

So I guess that means your "eat locally" comments in your side bar should actually be "eat local." Otherwise, you are not committing to buy locally grown products - just eating whatever you buy (locally produced or not) in your locale!

Amy said...

one of my favorites..."i feel bad" is actually correct. for more check this out:

Amy said...

p.s. but i'm sure you knew that, melanie...and diane :-)