Why “likewise”: a sizzling exposé!Posted: March 7, 2013
“Likewise A Blog” is my personal blog, but its namesake was born of a satirical concept.
From August 2012 until early February 2013, I lived in Yerevan, Armenia. During this time, I came to be a habitual reader of the English-language section of news.am, or, “Armenian News-NEWS.am“, as it self-referentially describes itself in its copy.
One day, I came upon the following awkward formulation in a headline:
Well, all right; they used “likewise” to mean “too” or “also”, clearly. While it’s a slightly un-idiomatic construction from the point of view of a pseudo-native English speaker, it’s well within the intended shade of meaning, within the bounds of acceptable usage, and certainly comprehensible. Besides, why should one expect the English-language translation of an Armenian site to sound immaculately native? Surely I was being unduly pedantic and fastidious, as I’m admittedly wont to do.
However, my subsequent scouring of the site led to the revelation that, far from being an anomalous formulation, this usage of “likewise” is, in fact, a consistent and systemic phenomenon! Someone at news.am clearly had the idea that “likewise” is a preferred substitute for the words “too” or “also” in English-language journalistic prose!
Hardly limited to a few choice article titles, the steadfast commitment to “likewise” appears in the body of hundreds of articles. For example:
http://news.am/eng/news/132789.html (“Charles Aznavour visits Beijing”):
Together with about sixty Armenians, Grandmaster (GM) Levon Aronian—who plays first board for the three-time World Chess Olympiad champion Armenian national team—and GM Elina Danielian—who are in China to compete at the World Mind Sports Games—likewise attended the event.
http://news.am/eng/news/132162.html (“Yerevan to hold ‘Russian Culture Day'”):
The “Russian Culture Day” program comprises a screening of cartoons, a photo exhibition, presentation of the film entitled “Bryusov,” and a classical music concert during which the Narekatsi Armenian folk music instrument ensemble likewise will perform, “Rossotrudnichestvo” in Armenia press service informed Armenian News-NEWS.am.
http://news.am/eng/news/131590.html (“Turkey’s FM speaks on Armenian-Turkish relations”):
“We spoke about the Karabakh issue with Russia’s FM Sergei Lavrov, who was in Istanbul recently. There are elections in Armenia, in Spring, and in Azerbaijan, in Fall 2013. There are difficulties, before the elections, in securing a progress. At that time the psychological climate likewise is not suitable in the countries. We want for Armenia and Azerbaijan to achieve results in the Karabakh question; this will enable Turkey to act,” Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoglu stated.
http://news.am/eng/news/129485.html (“Another company to search for oil and natural gas in Armenia”):
To note, Team Energy (Canada), Vangold Resources Limited (Canada), and Blackstairs Energy (Ireland) companies likewise had searched for oil and natural gas in Armenia.
http://news.am/eng/news/108239.html (“Armenia’s Premier is in Brussels”):
We must also factor in the peculiarity of the political culture of Armenia’s people, which [i.e., the peculiarity] likewise bears the seal of the authoritarian Soviet past. Even though our people’s political culture underwent a tremendous transformation, they still bear manifestations that are contradictory to democratic development.
http://news.am/eng/news/127480.html (“Greek community actively engaged in Armenia’s domestic politics”):
To the query as to their relations with National Assembly Deputy Speaker and ruling Republican Party Spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov, who likewise is Greek, Khitarov said they maintain contact with him, that Sharmazanov is a Union member, and he participates in the discussion of community issues.
You get the point.
It should hardly come as a surprise to those who know me that “likewise” rapidly became a mimetic force within my social circle, and gained considerable comedic currency.
To date, there is quite a lot of content containing “likewise” either in the article body or the title.
To be fair, they do use “also” and “too” a fair bit, although, amusingly, the news.am search engine does not reflect this fact:
Initially, I feared the worst–that word of the existence of the more canonical synonyms to “likewise” simply had not reached news.am. However, they do seem to be vindicated by Google:
From this, I drew the conclusion that the news.am search engine doesn’t yield these results because there are too many of them.
Well, that’s a relief. It turns out that “likewise” is merely used far too often, not all the time.
Still, there are some real gems in here, especially when combined with other clever and original ways of conveying ideas in English. I think this one takes the cake:
This could only have one result, which is to beget the phenomenon of the Likewise Turtle! Many thanks to Lisa Ulevich for the artistic renditions:
Although, to be honest, it was hard to pass this one up for top prize:
An honourable mention also goes to:
And, I candidly confess to having thoroughly enjoyed this one, even though “likewise” did not make an appearance:
This one also evokes some empathy:
Anyway, I’ve digressed here. Needless to say, there’s lots of interesting stuff on news.am.
In short order, I decided that I absolutely had to somehow own the word “likewise” at a national level of distinction. With the assistance of my colleagues at ABC Domain, I came to register likewise.am, and that is how this site was born.
PS. I can already anticipate the objection of linguistic-national chauvinism, i.e. that I am being uncharitable in ridiculing the hard work of people trying their best, and arrogantly holding them to unnecessarily exacting standards of perfection, like an exponent of Anglo-American imperialism.
While understandable, that is not the view being espoused here. The last thing on my mind is to hold someone’s imperfect English against them. I’m an immigrant and a non-native speaker myself.
However, I don’t think this material lives up to Armenians’ traditionally high standards of intellectual diligence, nor is a reflection of the objective limitations of the resources available to the country’s leading online news portal. I am not persuaded that between domestic language specialists and repatriates on the one hand, and millions of diaspora on the other, there is not a single individual news.am can hire to do a bit of copy-editing.
That’s why I feel no pang of conscience whatsoever in making light of it.