I was reading a book to my daughter. A scene taking place in a school showed a poster on the wall with some carrots and the caption 'eat healthy.' To me (a speaker of British English), this seems incorrect. It makes me want to ask: 'eat healthy what?' - I'd rather say 'eat healthily.' I'm left with the following questions:
- Can adjectives be substituted for adverbs in American English?
- probably not - I've not heard 'he quick ran to catch the bus.'
- Can adjectives be substituted for adverbs in American English in certain constructions?
- this seems to be the key questions, a generalization of the next question.
- Are certain adjectives being used idiomatically in adverbially positions in American English?
- this seems to be at least the case: 'how are you? I'm good (well).'
- Is this nothing to do with American English and universal to all flavours of the language?
I haven't yet found a study online regarding this (though see note at the end of this post). Neither have I come up with some neat way to use search engine queries and resulting counts to help clarify.
So why is this important? Well, one of the fundamental steps in analysing text is the determination of parts of speech (e.g. adjective and adverb). From this analysis, many other inferences can be made, inferences common to text mining and natural language processing applications in general.
Systems that determine part of speech tags are often trained using text more formal than that found in your average piece of social media text. Consequently, expressions like 'eat healthy' can cause problems. There are, of course, a number of straight forward pragmatic approaches to dealing with these problems - particularly when parser rules can be modified manually.
Note that in understanding and accepting change in language is fundamental to text mining. I enjoy reading the work of Patrick O'Brian in which people go around saying things like 'please to sit down' which sounds very odd nowadays.
What about the almost complete U.S. substitution of adjectival for adverbial forms? This is evident locally here in Minnesota and in the speech of a number of national politicians, journalists and educators.
The post goes on:
There seems to be a growing aversion to using adverbs ending in <ly> at the end of sentences[.]
Which suggests this appears in certain constructions, not in all.