Deeply: a definition

Posted on September 3, 2010


“I suspect that those who are saying that (Johnathan Franzen’s book) ‘Freedom’ has been overpraised have not read the book,” said Jonathan Galassi, the president of Farrar, Straus. “Once they have — as I hope they soon will — I believe they too will see how deeply and movingly Jonathan confronts contemporary life.”

If that “Deeply” did not convince you? what will?

Those who use the word Deeply are like a shoe salesmen who smiles and shakes your hand too often. The word makes me feel like I’m being conned into something. As if the sentence alone was not enough to hide the lies, and so there must be this incentive, this  word Deeply to prove that whatever verb/adjective is being used does in fact really mean what it should and in a particularly non-shallow way.

I quit reading Karen Armstrong’s book on the Crusades, becuase she used the word Deeply at least six times a page and the result was smarmy and cheesy as if she didn’t believe what she was saying. When she says that the Muslims of the 12th century were Deeply Religious, and Deeply faithful, we ask Oh really? Is that so? As if we had assumed that their faith was shallow, as deep as a kiddy pool. We imagine that as she writes “deeply” a salty tear blots the page, because she the sympathetic humanitarian widely read in Islamic know-how, knows just how deep that deeply is. and how deeply maligned.

Grammatical intensifiers are particularly suspect where they call into question the limits of quantifying/qualifying a verb or adjective. The question becomes where do we stop? As if the limit itself was arbitrary and irrelevent. Because really if you use one Deeply, why not two Deeplys? For instance: Lady Gaga is deeply, deeply, lubricious. As if having taken a submarine down into the abyss of Lady Gaga’s Lubriciousness, we find in the depths a second abyss, not one of the lubridity but rather one of deeply itself. Then the one deeply modifies the other. In other words, very deep.

However, for as much as the word Deeply has about it the whiff of the insincere, the word Very is one of my favorites, and is used often. But the arguments against the word Deeply can be deployed against the word Very in much the same manner. Do I contradict myself? Is this Hypocrisy?

Posted in: Definitions