Inaugural not “First Annual”, You Commies.

With all the talk about the up­com­ing Cleveland Ingenuity Festival, I’ve had plenty of ex­po­sure to my great­est gram­mar pet peeve. I wouldn’t even have this al­most psy­cho­pathic ha­tred of this com­mon mis­take if it weren’t for my high school com­mu­ni­ca­tions and jour­nal­ism teacher, Mr. Glowacki.

There is no such thing as FIRST ANNUAL.

The word you want is INAUGURAL.

This is not the FIRST ANNUAL Cleveland Ingenuity Festival. What if it doesn’t hap­pen next year? Won’t be an­nual then, will it? It should be the INAUGURAL Cleveland Ingenuity Festival.

Local me­dia cul­prits:
Cool Cleveland
Cleveland Free Times [No on­line ev­i­dence, at least un­til they get some of the more re­cent is­sues up]

Local Media Heros
[is it just me or do all those ra­dio sites look the bloody same?]
Cleveland Jewish News

Cleveland​.com and WGAR don’t say in­au­gu­ral or “first an­nual” and it doesn’t ap­pear that any of the TV sta­tions are cov­er­ing it.

17 thoughts on “Inaugural not “First Annual”, You Commies.

  1. hehe­hehe.

    I have my gram­mar pet peeves too, like folks that do not know the proper uses of you’re and your. That one dri­ves me bark­ing mad.

  2. ah yes…i re­mem­ber the “first an­nual” ver­sus “in­agu­ral” de­bate. and that dope john pause came in and had no idea why what he put on the tv was wrong. what a goon.

  3. Hm. I didn’t know about the dec­i­mate thing. And the de­struc­tion one sounds like a sim­i­lar thing I heard about bald­ness. A man is ei­ther bald or not bald. There is no bald­ing.

  4. ah, lan­guage ar­gu­ments. love ‘em.

    dec­i­mate seems to have orig­i­nally meant killing 1 in every 10 sol­diers (by the ro­man army), but has evolved over time to mean “killing/​destroying a large por­tion” of…

    the thing about lan­guage is that (1) WE cre­ated it to (2) serve the pur­pose of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. if (1) WE de­cide to change it and (2) it is still ef­fec­tive in its pur­pose of com­mu­ni­cat­ing, can we re­ally ar­gue that the change/​evolution is wrong/​incorrect/​etc.? i un­der­stand per­fectly well what some­one is say­ing if they tell me they “par­tially de­stroyed” a build­ing, just as i’d un­der­stand if they said a project was “par­tially com­plete.” should “par­tially” not be a vi­able word, then, if it (in ef­fect) changes the mean­ing of the word (usu­ally a word that im­plies an ex­treme of some kind, cor­rect?) it is mod­i­fy­ing? where do you draw the line if one’s gram­mar can be log­i­cally ar­gued, but un­der­stood nonethe­less?

    i have ar­gued my friends to their com­plete ag­gra­va­tion over whether ebon­ics is a le­git­i­mate language/​dialect; it evolved/​was cre­ated to com­mu­ni­cate and it is ef­fec­tive at do­ing so… sure, it’s bor­rowed heav­ily from eng­lish, but why hold it to the stan­dards of eng­lish? eng­lish bor­rowed, too!

    where would we be if hu­man­ity had in­sisted on NOT CHANGING ANYTHING since me­dieval times? why is it okay that we don’t speak old eng­lish any­more, but not okay that we’re see­ing mod­ern eng­lish change?

    at the same time, i see how “first an­nual” makes no sense. i am still an eng­lish ma­jor, hehe. but lan­guage is not like math­e­mat­ics. no one is try­ing to “solve” the per­fect sen­tence. math­e­mat­ics is found, dis­cov­ered; eng­lish is cre­ated.

    /​comment hi­jack­ing

  5. Yeah, I’m sorta with you Lyndsey. I lean to­ward the de­scrip­tivist camp, if you can pluck mean­ing from what­ever is said then it should be okay. Prescriptivism puts weigh two mutch em­pha­sis on fol­low­ing each and every rule. I guess I feel that you should at least know all the rules, even if you don’t pay at­ten­tion to them.

  6. Okay, I’m game so I’m gonna swim up the stream of ma­jor­ity opin­ion here on this one…

    The mean­ing of “first” used with “an­nual” in the world of events makes some sense. Picture the use of “first” with a bi­en­nial or tri­en­nial event. Inaugural is okay but doesn’t con­vey an­nual like every­body seems to be say­ing; ex­am­ple in fact… a pres­i­dent is in­au­gu­rated but that doesn’t hap­pen every year. In fact you could say that Bush gave his “sec­ond in­au­gu­ral” ad­dress (un­for­tu­nately), which of course means that he did de­liver a “first in­au­ru­ral” one (prior un­for­tu­nately)… so do you see what I mean?

    So.… “first in­ugu­ral” ac­tu­ally con­veys more mean­ing then ei­ther word by it­self, es­pe­cially for an event that will re­peat.

    Does that help or not? Do you hate me or not?

    All the Best,
    Steve FitzGerald

  7. Shalom Adam,

    I am in com­plete agree­ment. Dr. Dru Evarts, lov­ingly called Conan the Grammarian by her stu­dents, drilled that and other hated phrases into our poor brains like:

    There is so such thing as be­ing proac­tive, you act or re­act. Unless you have ESP, you can­not proact.

    If you a greater num­ber of some­thing you have more than that num­ber, not over that num­ber. Over de­notes spa­tial re­la­tion­ship, not quan­tity.

    If that’s what you think, you have an­other think com­ing, not thing.

    To dec­i­mate some­thing means to re­move 1/​10th, not to de­stroy it.

    And speak­ing of de­struc­tion, you can­not par­tially de­stroy a build­ing. You can, how­ever, de­stroy a part of a build­ing.

    The list goes on and on. Oh, if the world only had more teach­ers like Dru.



  8. Shalom Y’all,

    I’m all for new words, but the rea­son we have dic­tio­nar­ies is not so that peo­ple can find out how to spell words, but rather so that we can all agree on what we’re say­ing to each other when we talk.

    If I yell, “Quick! Jump!” I hope you jump out of the way of the falling safe and don’t be­gin demon­strat­ing some Hip Hop dance step.

    When we change evolve the mean­ing of words, that’s one thing — girl used to mean any child still in “skirts,” which is why a boy’s first pair of pants was such a big deal — but when we get sloppy, the com­mu­ni­ca­tion suf­fers.



  9. There is no such thing as FIRST ANNUAL.

    The word you want is INAUGURAL.

    This is not the FIRST ANNUAL Cleveland Ingenuity Festival. What if it doesn’t hap­pen next year? Won’t be an­nual then, will it? It should be the INAUGURAL Cleveland Ingenuity Festival.

    Based on your ex­am­ple, at least, you’re in­cor­rect, as “in­au­gu­ral” also means the first of a se­ries. “First an­nual” also con­veys a sense of when the next event in the se­ries is sched­uled to oc­cur.

    The only way your ex­am­ple would be cor­rect is if the fes­ti­val didn’t hap­pen again in a year, but in (e.g.) 2 years.

  10. This has al­ways been very straight for­ward for me:

    The first time you do some­thing that is in­tended to ini­ti­ate a se­ries of sim­i­lar events is the in­au­gral. Which is the de­f­i­n­i­tion of the word — i.e. serv­ing to set in mo­tion; “the magazine’s in­au­gu­ral is­sue”;

    The sec­ond time you do it is the FIRST an­nual be­cause it is the FIRST time you are hold­ing it again at the agreed fre­quency.

    So when peo­ple are hav­ing a golf tour­na­ment that they have had for the pre­vi­ous 4 years, it is the 4th Annual as it is the 5th time for the event but the first one was called the in­au­gral!



  11. To make this even clearer ask your­self the uni­ver­sally agreed de­f­i­n­i­tion of “FIRST Birthday”!

    When I was in­au­gral I cried like a baby!!


  12. I found two sources:

    In re­sponse to a ques­tion sub­mit­ted at:
    “I be­lieve that “first an­nual” is nor­mally used (and per­ceived) as a slightly tongue-in-cheek ex­pres­sion of the in­ten­tion to es­tab­lish an an­nual event, and I see no rea­son not to use it. “Inaugural” poses a sim­i­lar prob­lem, in that no­body knows for cer­tain that the event will re­cur. Regardless, the sec­ond event in the se­ries is called the “sec­ond an­nual.” It’s not the same as the first birth­day or first an­niver­sary of an event – it is the sec­ond oc­cur­rence.

    Thank you for writ­ing–
    Chicago Manual of Style


    This de­c­la­ra­tion is in the APStyle Book:

    Annual — An event can­not be de­scribed as an­nual un­til it has been held in at least two suc­ces­sive years. Do not use the term first an­nual. Instead, note that spon­sors plan to hold an event an­nu­ally.

  13. I hate the use of “dead body” in the news…
    Police found a dead body out­side the lo­cal 7 – 11. It is a body… we know it is a dead per­son be­cause they didn’t say found a man or woman… they just have to say body.
    Only way you need dead body is when say­ing over my dead body… to clar­ify that your own body would have to be dead!!!

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