|The world is sad about Colonel Meow (via)|
I suspect a subeditor was at work in this sentence: "At present, about 8,000 people have been confirmed as diagnosed with Ebola, and of those 3,865 have, sadly, died. " Does the Guardian's style book have guidance on sadly died, detailing situations in which it needs to be bracketed by commas?
A search for "sadly died" (in quotes, entire phrase) gets only 549,000 hits ... perhaps there's hope yet. No, wait - "sadly he died" (no quotes) gets 22,600,000 hits, and "sadly she died" gets 5,240,000 ... and "sadly died", no quotes, gets 22,700,000, presumably including a lot of the "he"s and "she"s.
Sadly here can mean "unfortunately" ... but the ludicrous spectre of the person being sad to be dying will keep rearing its head as I read yet another occurrence of the phrase.
Furthermore, a death toll, eg in the current ebola outbreak, isn't just high (48% of those infected), but "tragically high" ... possibly because a nice long word was needed (high is just four letters, after all), and nothing sensible could be thought of.