I was copy-editing a paper for a language journal today, and came across this:
“… children may or may not identify phonemes better audiovisually than auditory only.”
The prescriptivist in me baulked at the combination of adverb and adjective, and so I changed it to:
“… children may or may not identify phonemes better audiovisually than auditorily only.”
At this point Microsoft Word (Word for Mac 15.3.2) chipped in with a wavy red underline. (I should perhaps add that so far in this post, it has also picked up audiovisually and prescriptivist!)) It did, however, make me stop and think.
I checked my two desktop dictionaries, The Chambers Dictionary (13th edition, 2014) and the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (eleventh edition, revised, 2008), and neither of them lists auditorily. Somewhat chastened, I went back to the text and revised it to:
“… children may or may not identify phonemes better audiovisually than when they are auditory only.”
relying on the reader to link they with phonemes rather than with children.
However, later in that same paper, I came across:
“… by locating the … onsets visually and auditorily …”
This is a not unusual feature in a paper where different authors are responsible for different sections.
Time to check the OED online, where I got the message “No dictionary entries found for ‘auditorily’”. However, it also pointed out that auditorily could be found in three quotations and three times in a full-text search (these were, in fact, the same three occurrences):
2011 Internat. Jrnl. Amer. Linguistics 77 163 Stress placement was judged auditorily..and verified through instrumental analysis..by measuring pitch, amplitude, and duration. [at instrumental]
1966 K. De Hirsch et al. Predicting Reading Failure viii. 82 Five auditorily gifted children who read well had been intensively trained in phonics. [at phonics]
1961 L. F. Brosnahan Sounds of Lang. i. 15 Articulations which are similar..must require greater precision of execution..in order to keep the resulting speech sounds distinct, both proprioceptively and auditorily. [at proprioceptively]
There is possibly a register restriction here, so I went to check in my corpus of academic journal papers which have been sent to me for copy-editing. This is a corpus of approximately 13.5 million words, and I found 28 examples of auditorily in 22 different papers. All of them were from language journals.
Before you jump to the conclusion that this reflects nothing more than my copy-editing preferences, I should add that in my corpus these papers are in their pre-copy-edited form.
So is “The definitive record of the English language” missing something? Not necessarily. There is a note on both the noun and adjective entries for auditory which says:
“This entry has not yet been fully updated (first published 1885).”
My corpus dates from 2006 to 2016, so it is possible that this is a recent innovation.
There is more to be done on this.