Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Literally, this is killing me...

Okay, I try to give the majority of the population the benefit of the doubt when it comes to incorrect word and phrase usage. I've committed a few grammar felonies in my day. Though "I could care less" has become more common than the BigMac, I try not to let it get me down. But I just can't seem to reconcile myself with the new way the word "literally" is being thrown around.

The irony is like sparks of electricity in my head every time I hear it, for the word "literally" is no longer being used literally.

The compromise is so pervasive it's on TV now. I was watching a travel channel when the host of the show said, "So the fish goes literally from the ocean to your plate." No, she didn't mean that you are served a dripping, raw fish, gills still undulating in their search for water. She meant that the fish you are served was caught earlier that day, though once it reaches your plate it is quite cooked, seasoned and, apparently, delicious.

It's abuzz in public. Teenagers are "literally dying" all around me. One girl, though she appeared quite dry, "literally peed [her] pants."

What are we to do when the word has been whored to the point that when we actually need to be literal, no one knows what we're talking about?

My head asplode. (But not literally)

Vocabulary Word of the Day:
LITERAL - adj - Conforming or limited to the simplest, nonfigurative, or most obvious meaning of a word or words; Avoiding exaggerations, metaphor, or embellishment.


Jaye Wells said...

It's like people saying they love everything. It's lost it's meaning. People rely too heavily on hyperbole.

SzélsőFa said...

wow, thanks for linking me!
I'd like to link you, too.
Which forest/nature/animal/plant-related pseudonym would you prefer?

The Quoibler said...

Your use of "whored" absolutely delighted me. Great choice of words... literally!



Hoodie said...

Jaye - You're right. I never really thought about the word "love" before. That one is so pervasive I hadn't even noticed. I guess I don't really LOVE chocolate, though I do enjoy it immensely.

Szelsofa - You're welcome. You earned it. I'm quite partial to the weeping willow.

Angelique - he he, thanks.

SzélsőFa said...

I will make you then, 'The weeping willow'.

If you are interested in what the Hungarian language thinks/embraces about the meanings of 'love', you are welcomed to read:

Hoodie said...

Thanks for the link-back.

That is very interesting about the word love. I have wondered before why, with as many words and psuedonyms our language posesses, the word love is so general and all-encompassing. There could be many words that mean love, for there are many different kinds.

The Eskimos have something like 27 (number may be incorrect) words for snow, depending on what kind of snow it is. That fact has stuck with me and fascinated me. If I knew all those words, I'd probably have no problem differentiating the different types of snow.

Maybe if we had more words for love, we would understand it better.

Minx said...

Some would say 'pedant', but I share your hatred for the much bandied, miss-used and misunderstood literalism. Their loose literality (do they suffer literalitis?) drives me to vodka as does the pressing need to include the word 'basically' in every sentence.
Do you want to talk about text language next? I can be very literal about that one!

Hoodie said...

Minx - Thanks for dropping in.
Basically, I agree with you on all counts. I mean, it's basically an epidemic.

Also, why do people (particularly in the office atmosphere) feel the need to constantly say "myself" in place of "me" or "I" i.e. "Sharon and myself discussed that over lunch." ?

I need to stop.

Minx said...

Why stop there? We could pick over our ever changing lingual affectations until we came to the conclusion that past generations must have gone through exactly the same thing, Man.

cul8er - grrrr.

Hoodie said...

It's true that language is constantly evolving, which, in general, I accept and doesn't bother me.

But when words absolutely lose their meaning, I guess I mourn a little for them.

Beth said...

If you want to hear a butchering of the English language, I'll give you a call when my daughter has her best friend over here for a sleepover. =)

I've linked you too. Thanks for mine as well.

Hoodie said...

I must admit, I feel such pleasure to hear my four year old using adverbs correctly.

There is hope for future generations.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I fidn this rather cute and frustrating. I do agree that people often use words that either they have no idea what they mean or they use it because everyone else does. Your sound of an English major.

I think I like how the beatnik Jack kerouac did his book of, "Dreams", as is, no corrections, just wrote straight from his mind to paper.

Hoodie said...

Ha - I was an English major.
Thanks for commenting.

Church Lady said...

I just posted on your "Graceful Critique" thread.

But this joke is so good, it deserves a second round.

You are literally a hoodie.


Oh man, kids just went back to school. I'm giddy with freedom. Forgive me ;-)

Hoodie said...

Thanks for coming over, Chris!