Why I literally get irritated by my own language!

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Sarkus, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...y-admits-used-wrong-sense-word-literally.html
    No longer can we be disappointed when someone says "I was literally killing myself with laughter" as they tell you the story with no hint of the terminal damage that they stated they had caused themselves.

    No longer can we linguistic snobs snigger at the uneducated as they keep using the word to mean the exact opposite.

    It is a sad day: the word "literally" has now joined words such as "bad" and "sick".
    The OED has relented to the lowest common denominators of our language and made it officially acceptable to use "literally" when we actually mean the opposite: "metaphorically".

    Now when someone says that they were literally doing something, how are we to know if they mean what they say when it now means, per the OED, the opposite?

    A sad state of affairs.
    But our ever-changing language is rife with examples of how popular laziness overtakes those who put effort in to be correct.
    Why bother any more.

    I was literally not going to post this thread until I literally blew my brains out with needing to get it off my chest.
    Consider me literally cleansed of the literally literal annoyance.

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  3. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

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    problem with dictionaries is that they are a record of how the language IS used, not how it SHOULD be used. After all, dictionaries define morality as ethics and ethics as morality. If they mean the same, why two words? Obviously they didn't USED to mean the same. I try to maintain the difference even now, but I get cr@p from everyone when I do.
     
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  5. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    So...a while back a friend of mine, after describing what another driver had done on the highway, said to me : "man, that literally burns my ass, what about you?"
    I looked at him and asked : "Literally?"
    He said; " Yeah, dammit, it literally burns my ass!"
    I said: " Well, what really burns my ass, is a flame about 30 inches high."
    He went of on me, called me everything but...
    True story - I've got a 30 inch inseam.

    At any rate - I agree Sarkus - in my eyes, the world is going to Hell in a hand-basket, and most everybody is standing alongside and cheering it along, like it was Macy's Christmas Day Parade!
    I hear people talking about immortality, and I think, shit, a few more decades of the way things are going - and I might just build the "Big Button", just so I can "...Ah, push it - p-push it real good...Hey! Ow...Push it good...". ( thanks to Salt N Pepa)!

    Later(literally), dmoe
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2013
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  7. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    Come on. It's always been a form of comical exaggeration. I've used the word in that sense many times, on purpose, and with full knowledge that I was using it incorrectly, and I'm quite certain that I am not the only one.

    What's probably happened then is that the comical usage has been adopted by people who never understood the humour, turning it into nothing more than a common error.

    Example: "you've got your head up your arse" (which is hyperbole to begin with) becomes a more forceful and potentially more insulting and/or humorous statement when it is phrased "you've literally got your head up your arse". There was never any pretense that we were speaking literally, thus using the word "literally" simply serves to enhance the hyperbole.
     
  8. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    Rav, so, going by your example, would it be okay of me to use the saying : same difference ?
    It has always kind of bothered me to hear people say, "same difference" - irks me in much the same way as someone who doesn't understand or know what to do with the "ball", so they toss it back over onto "your side of the court" by saying : "whatever".
    Later, dmoe
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2013
  9. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

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    What---everrrr!
     
  10. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    Grok'd.
     
  11. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not trying to pass anything off as grammatically correct here, I am simply pointing out that sometimes people say grammatically incorrect things on purpose.
     
  12. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    Point taken.
     
  13. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    I have three hacksaws. I mean I literally have three hacksaws. I mean literally literally, not metaphorically literally.

    They're all essentially the same but I aquired them at different times from different sources for different reasons.

    This is literally a metaphor for the aquisition of words by the English language.
     
  14. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Something that has always bugged me ever since I was a child of about 10 (around 60 years ago) is the usage of "flammable" and "inflammable" to mean exactly the same thing - despite the prefix "in-" which normally indicates "not."
     
  15. KitemanSA Registered Senior Member

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    Personally, I always thought of those as having two different meanings that are confused by most people. Wood can go up in flames, wood is flammable. A throat can become inflamed. A throat is inflammable. Just a thought.
     
  16. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Sure, but I'm not talking about infections, emotions, etc. I'm speaking strictly about volatile gasses and liquids - things like that.
     
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Inflammable comes from the English verb "inflame," and means literally "capable of being inflamed." The original meaning of "inflame" is "to set on fire, to kindle." It comes from Latin inflammare, "to inflame." This is a verb formed from the noun flamma, "flame." The in- is merely a grammatical inflection used to change a noun to a verb. It is not the Latin in- that means "not," even though they are homonyms and written the same way.

    When I was a kid in the 1950s, gasoline tankers all had the word "INFLAMMABLE" painted on both sides in red letters as big as people.

    But just like a few of you, a few people thought that "inflammable" meant "not capable of being set on fire." So to avoid a tragedy, the oil companies created the fictitious word "flammable" and changed the lettering on their trucks. I'd say this was complete by the mid-1960s. No one born since then has ever seen a gasoline truck labeled "inflammable."

    What a great idea, eh? It surely must have averted a great number of tragedies.

    Conversation overheard in a gas station between two tourists:

    Bill: "I spilled a little water on the scratchpad on my matchbook. I can't get my cigarette to light. Sharon has a brand-new matchbook, but it's in her purse and she's in the bathroom."

    George: "Well, Bill, you know I don't smoke so I don't have a matchbook. But those don't look like safety matches. You could probably scrape one on anything and it would light."

    Bill: "Of course. You're so smart. I guess smoking has made me stupid. Now let's see, where can I light my match...?"

    George: "That truck over there has a big cylindrical metal tank on the back. I bet it would be easy to light a match on that."

    Bill: "You mean the one with the Shell Oil logo on the door and the word "INFLAMMABLE" in big red letters painted on the side?"

    George: "Of course that one. It's obviously safe because they wrote 'inflammable' on it. There's no way you could cause any danger by lighting a match on it."

    Bill: "Okay, thanks, George! You're so smart. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have a smart friend like you. I'm going to go light my match on that Shell Oil truck with the word 'inflammable' painted on the tank in gigantic red letters."
     
  18. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Ha-ha!

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    Nice humor, Fraggle, and an excellent background explanation - thank you.
     
  19. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    In the U.S. people park their cars in Driveways - but drive on Parkways.

    Not to mention that most homes have Hot-Water Heaters.
     
  20. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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  21. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    I become annoyed when I see myself using extra words, that are not necessary.
    Or, to put it less annoyingly:
    My usage of unnecessary words annoys me.
    After many posts, I go back and strip out ten or twenty percent, with no loss of meaning.
    One of the things I strip out is "I think that"
    Of course "I think that", otherwise I wouldn't be writing it, would I?

    Another annoying phrase:
    " It could be said that"
    Virtually meaningless.
     
  22. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Not at all, as they provide a context for the rest of your statement.
    It's important to qualify whether something is your opinion (or your hypothesis, or your suspicion, or your firm conviction), or whether you are quoting someone else, or whether you believe you are making an objective claim that is to be held true by everyone.
     
  23. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    Captain Kremmen, your mention of stripping out "I think That" reminds me of a remark my son made to me when he was about 10 or 11 years old.
    "Hey dad," he said "when someone starts a sentence by saying - I don't think - do I have to listen to the rest of what they say?"
     

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