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For a great while, I have always thought that the bumper sticker "Eat Local" was grammatically incorrect. I was under the impression it should say "Eat Locally."

But, now, for some reason, I am starting to reconsider.

Which is correct?

Thank you.

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  • possible duplicate of What does "live local" mean? – FumbleFingers Mar 27 '13 at 19:12
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    @FumbleFingers The questions are related but I wouldn't call this a duplicate; the other question wants to know what "Live Local" means and if it will be commonly understood, while this question takes for granted the meaning of the phrase and wonders at the grammar (ie. the missing "ly"). – WendiKidd Mar 27 '13 at 20:51
  • @WendiKidd♦: I'm only one vote, but you're never going to convince me there's any justification for keeping separate questions open for eat local, shop local, buy local, live local etc. The top answer on the earlier one addresses the local/locally issue. ELL is supposed to be English for learners, not English for half-wits. – FumbleFingers Mar 28 '13 at 2:14
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    I'd call the two questions related, but not duplicates. Although the earlier question does have an answer that addresses the grammaticality issue, the question itself is more about usage and commonality. That question seemed to ask, "How prevelent is this kind of language?" while this one asks, "How grammatically correct is this kind of language?" I don't see anything "half-witted" about letting both questions stand. Had this question been about "Think different" instead, would we even be having this dispute? – J.R. Mar 28 '13 at 9:47
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    @FumbleFingers The answer you linked to that answers the local/locally issue is actually on this question (which is the second question, not the first). You are of course welcome to disagree, I was just also stating my opinion! I'm in agreement with J.R. on this one though; I think this question asks something completely different from the first, and the only connection I see is that the same phrase triggered a different question. – WendiKidd Mar 28 '13 at 14:19
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"Eat Local" is a slogan, not a complete sentence.

Yes, as a sentence it is not grammatically correct. "Local" is an adjective, but there is no noun for it to modify. "Eat locally" is a grammatically correct sentence. "Locally" is an adverb modifying the verb "eat".

But slogans are not expected to be complete, grammatically-correct sentences, so it's not necessarily "wrong" as is.

Either way, I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean. The plain literal interpretation of "eat locally" is that it is an injunction to eat at restaurants in your home town or to eat in your own home. Is that what they mean? Is this a bumper sticker from the local restaurant association or grocery store?

I'm wondering if what they mean is to eat locally-produced food. Like here in Michigan the state has a campaign to encourage residents of the state to eat food grown in the state.

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  • Unless "Local" is the name of the animal whose meat we are eating. "Here, eat some potatoes and have a taste of Local." – Jay Mar 27 '13 at 16:31
  • +1 to your last para. 'Eat locally' suggests dining out, whereas this slogan/campaign is attempting to reward all local producers, not just those from the hospitality. – mcalex Mar 27 '13 at 17:19
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    Got milk? (That's not the way I'd put it in a sentence, but it works for a slogan.) – J.R. Mar 27 '13 at 23:11
  • They mean locally-produced food, yes. The "locavore" movement is based around the idea that you can and should eat food that is only produced within a specific radius (usually around 100 miles). – fluffy Mar 28 '13 at 18:12
  • If that's the meaning, than "Eat locally" would not convey that idea. "Eat local" is then presumably an abbreviation for "Eat food produced in the local area", which is not at all the same thing as "eat locally". – Jay Mar 29 '13 at 15:52
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As it is commonly used on that bumper sticker, eat local has the meaning eat locally. Sort of. Maybe.

Grammatically speaking, eat local without other context would be taken to mean "local is a thing, and you should consume it". As local is not a noun in common usage, this is bad grammar.

Eat locally produced [stuff] is the true meaning behind the bumper sticker. It is an encouragement to support business/agriculture/etc in the immediate area. Theoretically, it is better to purchase goods/services from nearby, thereby contributing to a local economy, than to support nameless faceless corporations hundreds of miles away.

Why eat local then, if it is incorrect? Who knows? Informal English can ignore grammaticality when pithiness or brevity or just plain humor are "improved" through incorrect usage. Times and places to do this are out of scope for this question, but "rules were made to be broken", and English is no exception.

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    It doesn't mean eat locally. I eat locally all the time, but the food is often produced elsewhere, so I don't eat local as often as I eat locally. – snailplane Mar 28 '13 at 1:26
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Slogans don’t necessarily have to be grammatically correct. A lot of slogans are sentence fragments. This is by intention. The slogan-makers/advertisers are crafting catchy messages with ‘wow’ effect. Examples

Got Milk?

Think different

I’m loving it.

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