“It never usually happens.”
– From a to-remain-unnamed columnist’s
I’m tempted to indulge an H.M.S. Pinafore moment.
“What, never usually?”
– Chorus of sailors
“Well, hardly ever usually.”
Yes, much better.
It hardly certainly can’t be that native speakers (and always mostly good writers) don’t know what “usually” means. Or “never” for that matter.
I also partly refuse absolutely to believe that this weirdness is ever frequently caused by not knowing that a categorical or absolute word cannot be modified. Softened. Nuanced.
No, I suspect that what always sometimes creates this mistake (and others akin to it) is occasionally all the time introducing a qualifier into an over-generalization and then never usually reading the result.
Thank goodness that it never often happens.
“What, never often?”
Well, hardly ever often. And a good thing too. It leaves us more time to fix the even more worst mistakes with modified superlatives.
Seriously, changing one’s speech habits is difficult. Well, almost always. Early in 2020, I made a resolution never (not just hardly ever) to use a generalized superlative, because of Donald Trump’s excessive use /abuse of them: greatest president, worst disaster, greatest genius, most compassionate, least prejudiced….
I think I succeeded in my writings, where I can go back and edit/rewrite. I probably didn’t in my speaking.
Oh, well, a near miss is probably almost all the time maybe as good as a kilometre.
Jim – Probably. 🙂
Ever since I read that brushing alone will not prevent tooth decay, I always brush my teeth with my wife.
Eric – Good thinking! 🙂
“I always brush my teeth with my wife.”
She must be quite petite
Barry – Indeed.