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 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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