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Onely, Drugs, and Heteronormativity: A Lesson in Grammar. July 15, 2008

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought.
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For the past week, I have been fighting an irritating cold (irritating because I *hate* feeling sick. OK I suppose this is not necessarily unique to me, but STILL). One of the symptoms of this cold has been a hacking cough, which only subsides in response to drugs (another thing I *hate*). Over the weekend (and not incidentally, under the influence of these drugs), I was updating some details of the Onely site and I started thinking – or perhaps obsessing is a better word – about the site’s subtitle, which reads: “A noun. An adjective. A better Scrabble word than Heteronormative.”

Christina, the genius she is, is the one who thought up our funny tag line, and I never questioned it … until this weekend, when in my drug-induced haze, I got confused and nervous about two aspects of the subtitle – grammar and our sense of humor – so behind the scenes I posed a few questions for discussion. C & I agree that not only will posting this discussion help answer any questions that might be lurking in your brains, but it’s also highly entertaining. We hope you enjoy! What follows is a lightly-edited transcript of the discussion that ensued [and yes, I'll admit, sometimes it's difficult to tell when I'm ON drugs and when I'm OFF, but LAY OFF, k?]:

C: OK I am totally drugged up (couldn’t stop coughing this morning so had to take meds, UGH) so I could be totally wrong… But isn’t Onely an ADVERB not an adjective?! it ends in “ly” ???? L

L-It’s an adjective (I have a onely mindset) and I guess in some circumstances it could be an adverb, but I think mostly it’s an adjective (the onely lifestyle) or a noun. Lay off the drugs, man!!! = )  CC

C: OK the drugs have worn off – I think! And I see that it is an adjective. BUT our ability to say “Being Onely” makes it an adverb too, no? Also, another thing that has crossed my mind since … a few days ago … is the irony clear in our subtitle, that we are against heteronormativity? Or could it possibly be confusing, as in, maybe it seems that Onely could be a synonym for heteronormative? L

L: 1) “being onely” is like saying “being happy”–in that case, onely is an adjective. In order for it to be an adverb, it would have to describe a verb as you know, like “I skipped onely along the street”. We don’t ever really use it to describe a verb.   You can’t say “being happily” or “being fuzzily”.   Think of it like the word lonely. “being lonely”. Adjective. This is my interpretation, anyway.  It would be cool to be able to make it an adverb, and to add that to our sutitle too, but I don’t think it works as an adverb… “I spoke onely to him about how not having kids didn’t make me selfish”. Hm–ACTUALLY you could say “I acted onely when I told him that not having kids didn’t make me selfish”. In that case, onely is an adverb, describing how you acted. (?) Though you could also say “I acted odd” OR “I acted oddly”, so I guess in the previous example onely could be an adjective OR an adverb. Let me try some more. “I lived onely for many years”. “I lived happily for many years.” Ok, it’s working. But wait, wouldn’t we say “I lived onelyily for many years”, because onely is the root adjective and so it needs to have an LY ADDED to it? . . . ok, let’s think about how we turn LONELY into an adjective. I think we should use Lonely as our guide. It Lonely can be an adverb, then so can onely.  I walked lonily along the street. . . I walked lonelyily. . . OH DAMMIT. ok, dictionary says it’s lonelily, So there we go–adverb. OK.  

2) interesting point– i thought it was clear that we are against heteronormativity, but now that you mention it, it COULD be misconstrued. Hm………..  actually, I think that “one” is such a strong word that anyone who knows what HN is would not think they are synonyms .The danger comes from ppl who don’t know what HN means, and they could think they’re synonyms. But even so, they would still get what Onely is and soon enough read that HN is its opposite. So I think we’re ok with the subtitle for now, thought we could poll some friends if you want. 

C – THANK YOU !!!!!!!!! THIS HELPS A LOT. I THINK WE SHOULD PRESERVE THIS FOR SAFEKEEPING IN CASE I EVER TAKE TOO MANY DRUGS AGAIN AND GET CONFUSED. You’re an amazing grammarian, as well as Onely co-creator!!! I feel so lucky!!!! to be Onely!!!! L

Friends?? Please comment away! What do you think of our subtitle?

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