Apologies for the recent silence but my life has been dominated by correction work for my university students, which has to take priority. One interesting thing came out of[1] all that correcting. If my students want their corrected work back[2], they have to send me a message from the email to which they want me to return it. A number of them asked for their corrections with phrases including the word ‘kindly’, such as, “Would you kindly send me my corrected work?” I have absolutely no doubt that they were trying to be polite[3]. In the past ‘kindly’ did more or less mean[4] ‘please’. However, as The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage points out[5], the use of ‘kindly’ to be formally polite has been declining for decades leaving the other adverbial use – to express authority and irritation. “Would you kindly not smoke?”, “Kindly keep your voice down” and “Kindly leave me alone” have the formality of using Usted in Spanish of vous in French but express the speaker’s frustration, not his or her respect.

P.S. We were incapable of finding an image to illustrate this blogpost, sorry!

[1] to come out of (come-came-come) – emerge from

[2] back – (in this case) returned

[3] politecourteous, wellmannered

[4] did mean – (emphatic) meant

[5] to point outindicate


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