Porcupyn's Blog

September 21, 2007

The Changing English Language

Filed under: Uncategorized — Porcupyn @ 1:12 pm

Once upon a time, I used to spell the word now-a-days with hyphens; I have since switched. Nowadays, hyphens are becoming extinct by the hundreds!

The American usage of momentarily used to confuse me momentarily. Momentarily (sic), I would grasp the usage from the context. It appears that the Usage Panel agrees with me.

 Usage Note: Momentarily is widely used in speech to mean “in a moment,” as in The manager is on another line, but she’ll be with you momentarily. This usage rarely leads to ambiguity since the intended sense can usually be determined on the basis of the tense of the verb and the context. Nonetheless, many critics hold that the adverb should be reserved for the senses “for a moment,” and the extended usage is unacceptable to 59 percent of the Usage Panel.


  1. yea, the hyphen’s becoming more of a bother to add in. Nice article!

    Comment by rads — September 21, 2007 @ 2:16 pm | Reply

  2. Ha! I always maintained momentarily was incorrectly used in this country. Now I see I’m right!

    Comment by terri — September 22, 2007 @ 10:53 am | Reply

  3. Hey, thought I left a comment earlier, but it doesn’t seem to have registered. I just linked to this post.


    Comment by BPuriSKabab — September 23, 2007 @ 12:10 am | Reply

  4. last week a guy at work used NG as an abbreviation..

    I had no clue. apparently NG is a common shortening of Not Good!!


    Comment by sundar narayanan — September 23, 2007 @ 12:32 am | Reply

  5. BPSK:

    Your original comment got attached to my About Me page. Don’t ask me why – I have no clue!

    Here, I am copying over your comment…

    Man, thank you for airing one of my pet peeves. When I first came to the US and heard this usage, I found it funny and ridiculous – on a par with “irregardless” and “I could care less”.

    Imagine my surprise when I checked with an [American] English instructor about “momentarily” and she told me that using it in the sense of “in a moment” is legitimate.

    I suppose this is how most of the American version of English was built up. By people who didn’t know better. After enough people use a phrase, it becomes a different usage.

    Maybe there is still hope for the Indian “I request your kind attention, please”



    I have similarly incorporated my bad into my slanguage!


    I don’t know about right or wrong, but we are both definitely part of the majority!



    Comment by porcupyn — September 25, 2007 @ 8:42 am | Reply

  6. Download this, and listen to it around the 22:30 marker. Nice … FYI, this is a recording made in 1938 (for more information, search for Voice of Rex Stout) – reminds me of those days when I used to listen to Brain of Britain on BBC, on a very static filled shortwave radio.

    Comment by porcupyn — October 9, 2007 @ 12:36 pm | Reply

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