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Desc:Well, actually, he doesn't literally cry.
Tags:justice, Grammar, language crimes, pet peeve
Submitted:John Holmes Motherfucker
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Comment count is 32
infinite zest - 2014-09-03
This is literally the best thing to come out of College Humor.
EvilHomer - 2014-09-03
Language is dynamic. At this point, I think we should just accept that "literally" literally means figuratively, and "figuratively" is literally dead.
memedumpster - 2014-09-03
I now use the term "olde-literally."

memedumpster - 2014-09-03
What is interesting though is that language is the only human "tool" that everyone fails to learn how to use and so makes it up again as they go along.

I wish real technology failed every generation and it all had to be rebuilt from zero knowledge every time under random and arbitrary rules. We'd be less on the verge of extinction now.

"Wheel" now means "computer" and "antibiotic" means "hanged by the neck until dead."

It would be fabulous, which means horrible.

fermun - 2014-09-03
We don't need to keep language static, we can change it as we use it, no one gets confused by using literally as a hyperbole, so it's fine. If someone tells me there's a bug on my shoulder, I just brush it off, I don't check to make sure it uses its mouth parts to form a proboscis capable of piercing tissue in order to suck out fluids such as an aphid. I don't care if the bug wasn't even an insect but was an arachnid like a daddy longlegs instead.

Bort - 2014-09-03
I get that language is always in flux and no word is guaranteed to preserve meaning forever, but "literally" (the traditional meaning) serves a useful purpose and it does not have any synonyms, so it's far and away the best option for de-metaphoring an expression. On the other hand, "figuratively" already exists and has synonyms, so I say there are no good arguments for redefining "literally" to mean "figuratively". From what I've seen, the most passionate supporters of doing so tend to be people who can't think of a situation where "literally" is a useful concept.

So, I will provide one.

Many years ago, Katie Couric's colonoscopy was broadcast on her morning TV show. Some time later, she had reason to ask Hans Blix what it was like to "literally" have the weight of the world on his shoulders. His answer should have been, "Well Katie, you know what it's like to literally have a camera up your ass, it's no fun".

memedumpster - 2014-09-03
I like etymology, it almost looks like a neural network of related ideas made of a few sounds each spread across centuries, breeding like rabbits. I don't put any stock in meme "theory" but I can see why people might. If there are future humans, those among them who also like etymology are going to have a fun ride through the 21st century.

"r u free 4 fuck n booze" is going to be their "Hwt! we Gr-Dena in er-dagum
ed-cyninga rym gefrunon, h elingas ellen fremedon. Oft Scyld Scfing sceaena retum."

Bort - 2014-09-03
The Urban Dictionary has a definition for "Hwaet", with two examples: the opening bit from "Beowulf", and this bit of verse:

Hwt this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute just sit right there
I'll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air

memedumpster - 2014-09-03
Wow, those are kind of the same story.

Sputum - 2014-09-03
"Actually" is actually is a pretty good synonym for literally that I don't think people are going to abuse any time soon.

badideasinaction - 2014-09-03
Turn down for hwaet is a great song...

John Holmes Motherfucker - 2014-09-04
Of course, you mean that figuratively since the concept of literal death cannot apply to a word or concept that has no literal life.

Mr. Purple Cat Esq. - 2014-09-03
I watched this on youtube.. It is *completely* predictable based on just its title.. Still funny tho!
It reinforces my theory that for humor you dont actually need good writing. If the person delivering the lines is just a 'funny person' then it will be funny.
Conversely, really well written stuff delivered by unfunny people falls flat (case and point, SMBC theatre)
Obviously having great writing + delivery is the optimum (golden era simpsons)
oddeye - 2014-09-03
How is that a theory, much less YOUR theory? It's pretty much written in stone, dude.

Potrod - 2014-09-03
Talented performer + crappy writing = "heh. I guess."

You need both.

John Holmes Motherfucker - 2014-09-03
The murder of "literally" is really a special kind of language crime, since this was the one word that was supposed to indicate solid precise meaning. It's figuratively the worst thing I've ever heard of.
BHWW - 2014-09-03
...literally! hyuck hyuck

memedumpster - 2014-09-03
The word "nonexistence" is also bullshit and has been given a free ride forever as a word without anything to define. It's useless in a universe that exists.

John Holmes Motherfucker - 2014-09-03
fluffy - 2014-09-03
It could literally have been a lot shorter.
Hooker - 2014-09-03
It could have literally been a lot funnier.

John Holmes Motherfucker - 2014-09-04
The funniest video I've ever seen on youtube , no question, is "How is Babby formed". This doesn't come anyhere close to that, but I think this is the most literate youtube video I've ever seen, other than maybe a play by Shakespeare, or what have you. It made an excellent point about language usage with complete clarity. Even the fact that you probably knew where they were going made the central lesson really clear and easy to digest. I thought it was beautifully done.

There were long discussions about usage in the youtube comments. I LOVE that!

infinite zest - 2014-09-03
What's the deal with the war on "literally" lately? It seems like it just sprung up a week ago. Sure, it's slightly annoying to see on Facebook or elsewhere, but at least it's grammatically correct: "the mouse is literally the largest rodent" is false, but there's nothing wrong with the structure. If you're in a lab filled with nothing but lab mice, then the statement could be true. I mean, there's worse crimes against lexicons to criticize. Like "like" but I do it like all the time :)
infinite zest - 2014-09-03
That was literally meant as a reply to JHM.

John Holmes Motherfucker - 2014-09-04
>>If you're in a lab filled with nothing but lab mice, then the statement could be true.

I find this example to be more than a little baffling. If it's true, why would anyone object to it? So what's your point?

And the misuse of "like" isn't really a grammatical error, just an annoying habit like stuttering, isn't it?

>>Sure, it's slightly annoying to see on Facebook or elsewhere, but at least it's grammatically correct: "the mouse is literally the largest rodent" is false, but there's nothing wrong with the structure.

You seem to think that structure trumps meaning, and I don't agree. Tell me something: IS the mouse literally the largest rodent? You can't really know without context, can you? That's because "literally" no longer necessarily means literally.

I can remember Orson Welles, near the end of his life, appearing in Henry Jaglom's SOMEONE TO LOVE, and talking about the loss of the word "GAY" as originally used. But at least "GAY" went for something useful. This is just a case of people not giving a shit, and sometimes, not really knowing. Misusing it adds nothing, unless it's a joke about ho you're misusing it. It just makes you look dumb.

And, again, here is a very useful word that is supposed to be all about hard unambiguous meaning. The irony makes it even more galling. (Hope I just used "irony" correctly, it's late.

Not that I go around fuming about this all the time, and I enjoy some of the great jokes that have come about. Remember Fry on Futurama? "That makes me LITERALLY angry with rage!"

Bort - 2014-09-04
"The mouse is literally the largest rodent" isn't typical for the misuse of "literal"; at most that statement is factually inaccurate or requires context / scope. But the point of "literal" is to take a phrase that is typically interpreted metaphorically and to strip out the metaphor. If I tell someone "I buried the hatchet", the normal interpretation is that I made peace with a foe ... but what if I want to communicate that I dug a hole in the ground, placed a hatchet in the hole, and covered it with dirt? (Don't ask why I did it; I am Bort and I have my reasons.) If I say "I literally buried the hatchet", you know that the metaphorical meaning does not apply.

John Holmes Motherfucker - 2014-09-04
Nicely done, Bort. To that I would add that it's also meant to strip out hyperbole, but it occurs to me now that hyperbole can and does approach metaphor.


Boxxy describes her reaction to seeing one of her videos remixed for the first time like this: "I had a heart attack!" It means that she was shocked and amazed . Now, if she said "I literally had a heart attack" that would mean the ambulance was called, and the defibrillator had to be used.

So now you've got a word that is meant to strip out hyperbole used to convey hyperbole. It makes me literally angry with rage. Well, maybe not exactly. Literally angry with anger? Okay, literally angry with peevishness.

memedumpster - 2014-09-04
There is an appropriate redneck/hick phrase for those occasions.

"I liked to have had." As in, "I saw my video remixed by rape-loving gamers and I liked to have had a heart attack."

infinite zest - 2014-09-04
I see what you guys are saying. For me, context is everything and I see the word's usage as a pretty innocent mistake. Like "this is literally the world's funniest cat video" isn't true, but it is given time and space. It's just the funniest cat video right now. "Literally the best sushi I've had?" Not according to Zagat's Guide. I've always had a tendency to say "actually" and not "literally." Like "How was the show?" "We burned the house down." "That's great!" "No, we actually burned the house down. A set piece caught fire and we had to evacuate." If I then called 911 and said we were having a show and burned the house down I'd assume the operator knew I wasn't making a joke.

For me, it's always been an emphasis adverb, like adding "fucking" to a sentence.

Bort - 2014-09-04
I don't have a tremendous problem with a person using "literally" to mean "quintuple plus plus" -- those are usually subjective matters, and it's clear that there's no absolute measure, so no meaning is lost. "This is literally the best burger ever" and "this is objectively the best burger ever" mean more or less the same to me, that the person is pretty damn happy with their burger but technically will never be in a position to quantify all burgers.

It's when "literally" creeps over into "figuratively" that they've crossed the streams, figuratively speaking.

fluffy - 2014-09-04
"Like" is commonly used as a discourse particle, like "um" or "uh." That is literally a different issue from misuse of "literally."

John Holmes Motherfucker - 2014-09-04
Just to be clear, she loved Gastric Penguin's remix.
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