It was noted here recently that the word "hopefully" is now widely misused. James Mahoney filed a prompt dissent. He wrote:
"Like many adverbs, when it precedes the sentence (or even when it precedes the main verb), 'hopefully' does not modify andy part of the sentence but merely conveys the speaker's attitude toward the entire proposition.
"'Hopefully' preceding a sentence does not mean that the subject acts with hope, but that the speaker speaks with hope - that he hopes, and hopes that you hope, and feels that all right-thinking people hope.
"But since he does not presume to speak for you and for all right-thinking people, he says 'hopefully' rather than 'I hope,' which is too restricted, or 'We hope,' which is presumptuous, or 'Everyone in his right mind hopes,' which is dogmatic, or 'It is to be hoped,' which is stilted.
"It is often thought to be a barbarism, in both the vernacular and classical senses; but its meaning is clear enough."
Yes, I am willing to concede that the meaning of the misued "hopefully" has by this time become clear enough. We can guess what meaning the speaker is attempting to convey, even though he has not chosen his words with precision.
However, in "The Careful Writer," Theodore N. Bernstein has this to say about the misuse of the word:
"This solecistic use probably arises from a false analogy. You can use adverbs like 'fortunately' and 'luckily' in this way. They mean 'in a fortunate or lucky manner,' and in the kind of construction cited would be equivalent to 'it is fortunate that.'
"But 'hopefully' as used here does not mean 'in a hopeful manner,' nor is it equivalent to 'it is a hopeful thing that.' The intended meaning is 'it is hoped that' or 'if hopes are realized,' and these phrases should be used.
"The Germans have a word that covers the intended meaning - hoffentlich. And in English we can take care of a somewhat similar situation with 'regrettably' (in a manner that calls for regret).
"But regrettably 'hopefully' is not equal to the burden sometimes placed upon it.
"What is needed is a word like 'hopably,' which is not here being nominated for the job."
Most authorities agree with Bernstein. But misuse of "hopefully" is now firmly rooted, and has even acquired "acceptance" because it has been recorded in dictionaries that list (without necessarily accepting) whatever is currently spoken and written. The indication is that in a few decades, even the purists will give up the fight against "hopefully," and that the usage wil be accepted. But that still doesn't make it right for current use and I hope, one hopes, it is to be hoped that today's speakers and writers will avoid misusing the word.