The Awful English Language

So over on a Michigan sports blog I read, a writer used the clause, "...and it very didn't work."  I don't want to talk about the part where that's terrible English, grammatically speaking.  I want to point out the fact that it makes sense.  Not only that, not only do we understand exactly what it means, the fact is English is flexible enough that - once the grammar nazis like me get over the incorrectness of it all - it barely sounds odd.  You could make a somewhat plausible argument, in fact, that this linguistic atrocity has a connotation otherwise unobtainable with a correct construction like "...didn't work at all."  The use of the "very" adds a punch, an almost active not-working, to our idea of what happened.  It is a phrase one could use, say, of bureaucratic excess or some of the goofier stunts attempted by the proverbial frat boys.

Of course, I'm still a linguistic snob at heart.  If I saw that construction used, outside dialogue, in anything more high-falutin' than a newspaper editorial, I'd have a panic attack.  But since it was just a blog post... hey, I can admire the rhetorical effect.


  1. I kind of like that phrase actually. It's better than the overused "really", at least!

  2. It sounds too Binksian for me.

    This example reminds me of what Tolkien did with "unlight" for Ungoliant in The Silmarillion.