I heard my wake-up weather man saying "I can hardly believe..." as dawn peaked in my window beside my bedroom TV this morning. With eyes still closed, my ears swirled with myriad echoes from my past classroom students mouthing 'can't hardly', 'can't hardly', 'can't hardly', like a badly scratched vinyl record.
Shaking myself from their teen-y slaughter of the language, I thought, "The weather man said it correctly." But, let's not stop there. I can barely tolerate hearing 'can't hardly' (my improved version of 'I can hardly tolerate...'). 'Can hardly', after all, can barely compare to 'can barely.'
Actually, hardly may be stripped of phraseology altogether and be better left totally to the role of the single word response to a question. "You going to date him?"
Now that I'm fully awake and thinking about it, 'hardly' as the single word response may be obsolete already.
"You going to date him?"
So, let's just throw 'hardly' under the bus and be done with it. As crisp, clean, clear writers, it's the least we can do.