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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 305

were used, and some of them survive in a few old words, though they are no longer employed in making new words. The Anglo-Saxon endings were -e and -lice. The latter was, at first, merely an -e-ending to adjectives in -lic, but after a time it attained to independence and was attached to adjectives not ending in -lic. In early Middle English this -lice changed to -like, and later on to -li and -ly. Meanwhile, the -e-ending, following the -e-endings of the nouns, adjectives and verbs, ceased to be pronounced, and so it gradually fell away. Thus a good many adverbs came to be indistinguishable from their ancestral adjectives, for example, hard in to pull hard, loud in to speak loud, and deep in to bury deep (=Anglo-Saxon, deop-e). Worse, not a few adverbs actually became adjectives, for example, wide, which was originally the Anglo-Saxon adjective wid (=wide) with the adverbial -e-ending, and late, which was originally the Anglo-Saxon adjective loet (=slow) with the same ending.
  The result of this movement toward identity in form was a confusion between the two classes of words, and from the time of Chaucer down to the eighteenth century one finds innumerable instances of the use of the simple adjective as an adverb. “He will answer trewe” is in Sir Thomas More; “and soft unto himself he sayd” in Chaucer; “the singers sang loud” in the Authorized Version of the Bible (Nehemiah xii, 42), and “indifferent well” in Shakespeare. Even after the purists of the eighteenth century began their corrective work this confusion continued. Thus one finds “the people are miserable poor” in Hume, “how unworthy you treated mankind” in the Spectator, and “wonderful silly” in Joseph Butler. To this day the grammarians battle against the amalgamation, still without complete success; every new volume of rules and regulations for those who would speak by the book is full of warnings against it. Among the great masses of the plain people, it goes without saying, it flourishes unimpeded. The cautions of the school-marm, in a matter so subtle and so plainly lacking in logic or necessity, are forgotten as quickly as her prohibition of the double negative, and thereafter the adjective and the adverb tend more and more to coalesce in a part of speech which serves the purposes of both, and is simple and intelligible and satisfying.
  Charters gives a number of characteristic examples of its use: