It's Enough to Literally Make Your Head Explode

All patriotic Americans ought to stand up and say enough is enough. We need a law to put a stop to this literally-abuse.

|

“I got ROBBED. I don't mean the Oscars, I mean literally. My pants and shoes have been stolen.”

— Albert Brooks, in a Tweet last week.

  ***

Commenting recently on the GOP presidential race, prominent political prognosticator Larry Sabato said that in Florida, “we have what is literally a Category 5 hurricane for the Republican nomination.”

Literally? Yikes. The last time a Cat-5 hurricane made landfall in the United States was seven years ago, when Katrina slammed into New Orleans. Tuesday’s primary was eventful, but nothing as bad as all that. The word Sabato wanted was “figuratively,” not literally.

He is not alone. About the same time, a Denver TV station was reporting that a young man named Jordan Staucet “is pounding the pavement â€" literally â€" looking for a job.” So he was hammering the concrete with his fists? Not exactly. He was simply walking around handing out résumés.

“Pounding the pavement” is an idiom, a figure of speech, and normally nobody would perform a figurative act literally. If you say someone does pound the pavement literally, then you are saying â€" well, you know.

Unlike the Denver station, Deadline grokked that distinction when it surmised Dwight Schrute, a character on The Office, could be “off to greener pastures … literally.” ABC reportedly has been considering a spinoff that would feature the Schrute family on its beet farm.

It was a different story for The Awl, which complained recently that “Free Subway Rag Now Literally Destroying America.” (The Awl is free too; maybe free online rags are superior to free print rags. Anything’s possible!) The object of the author’s ire was a publication called Metro, which had written a headline about Barack Obama’s State of the Union address that the Awl writer didn’t like. America, somehow, is still standing.

In that case, the Awl writer was so cheesed off she felt it not sufficient to say merely that Metro was destroying the nation. She wanted to say so even more emphatically, and so added “literally,” which seems vaguely illiterate.

This is a snooty, pedantic complaintâ€"but certainly not an original one. A “Dictionary of Jack” YouTube video made the same point five years ago. Minnesota Public Radio has aired the question. Plenty of others have griped about the subject as well. For a while, there was a blog keeping track of slipshod uses of literallyâ€"such as when Education Secretary Arne Duncan said starting the school year in September, rather than sometime earlier, was “literally taking a step backward.” (Because students forget what they learn in the spring.) Or when a spokeswoman for Sarah Palin said “the world is literally her oyster.” Palin’s detractors would call that casting pearls before swine.

To be fair, this persnickety criticism might not be, um, fair. Jesse Sheidlower, a dictionary editor, let it be known a while back in Slate that we shouldn’t take such statements quite so literally. In “The Trouble With Literally,” he notes that using literally as an intensifier has quite a literary pedigree. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that Jay Gatsby “literally glowed,” and Louisa May Alcott wrote that “the land literally flowed with milk and honey.” They didn’t mean either of those statements literally. They meant Gatsby really, really glowed and the land was really, really plentiful.

To Sheidlower, this is no big deal, since in the strictest sense, “literally” does not mean what we usually mean it to mean anyway. We have already wandered from the original purpose of “literally” whenever we use it in any sense other than “to copy a text word for word or letter for letter.” (The Latin root is litteralis, “of or relating to letters.”) So if you say you are literally sick to your stomach, and then vomit, you are still using the word “literally,” as it were, figuratively.

Or at least that’s his theory. Sheidlower is obviously some sort of Bolshevik, in league with the one-worlders at the UN who are pushing Agenda 21 down our throats with black helicopters and lies about evolution and global warming. All patriotic Americans ought to stand up and say enough is enough. We need a law to put a stop to this literally-abuse. If we don’t get one â€" and soon â€" then the Almighty is sure to send another Flood as punishment for our transgressions.

In fact, it may already be too late. As these words are written, it is raining cats and dogs outside. Literally!

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where this article originally appeared.

NEXT: Plan to Take British Health Records Into Virtual Reality Encounters Bureaucratic Reality, Shuts Down

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. That was literally one of the dumbest things I have read in a very long time.

    1. Which begs the question, how many dumb things have you….oops, I did it again.

    2. bi-curious?looking for bi-lovers?come on in to the safest,friendliest bisexual forum on the —datebi*cO’m—

  2. I literally took a shit.

    1. I hope you didn’t literally shit a brick.

      1. I literally need more fiber.

      2. I literally left a shit.

    2. I prefer dropping a duece.

  3. I’m with ya Bart. And don’t forget the now forgotten Hunstman’s campaign ad which claimed the world was literally falling apart.

    1. literally falling apart.

      He was actually speaking figuratively, about the world of literature falling apart.

  4. …O…K…?

    1. also hatz me sum alluded since its use usually is meant to mean explicit. >Grant didnt allude to drinking; he explicitly (& unapologetically) drank whiskey.

  5. I can literally see lots of comments incorporating the word “literally” in response to this article.

    1. Do you mean that literally?

      1. And this is as far down the thread as I could read before the word “literally” became nonsensical to me and became just a random collection of meaningless syllables.

        I’ll have to come back later to read the rest.

        1. Do you mean that………. literally?

  6. Tony is literally an idiot.

    See, it can be done.

  7. Hopefully this misuse will disappear soon.

    1. Hopefully…

      heh, heh

    2. At least in the case of “hopefully” it is not being used to mean exactly the opposite of what it really means, but just in a grammatically incorrect way.

  8. ABC reportedly has been considering a spinoff that would feature the Schrute family on its beet farm.

    That’s literally one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard.

    1. And beets aren’t even green.

      1. … but, but PARTS of them ARE … literally.

  9. Palin’s detractors would call that casting pearls before swine.

    Metaphorically speaking, of course.

  10. This article literally proves the libertarian nazi-grammar stereotype.

    1. That should be grammar nazi.

      1. Shouldn’t “nazi” be capitalized?

        1. If you mean are refering to literal NAZI’s.

          1. Case in point!

    2. Word usage is not grammar, damnit!

      1. Speaking literally, that is syntax.

  11. Agreed that this article is lame. Words change their meaning, and the world does not end. Figuratively or literally. The word ‘very’ originally meant ‘true’ (it comes from French ‘verrai’). The language did not die when its meaning gradually shifted, and it won’t die if ‘literally’ shifts too. My colleague Jesse knows a thing or two about English, being the American editor for the Oxford English Dictionary–I’d take his word for it over those of Mr. Hinkle, who’s a good columnist but hardly an expert on the future of the language.
    Yeah, I know–argument from authority, but at least we linguists do this kind of thing for a living. And we don’t get government grants for doing it, either.

    1. English is evolving far faster than the Oxford English Dictionary can keep up. Literally.

    2. “In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible,” explains the Newspeak engineer, “because there will be no words in which to express it”

      1984 by George Orwell.

      1. First they came for literally
        And I didn’t stop them because language evolves

        Then they came for organic
        And there was no one left to stop them

        1. blech, reply to Geoff

    3. Verily, Geoff know of what he speaks.

    4. Sure. But in this case a word is being used to mean completely the opposite of its usual meaning. What are we supposed to say now if we actually mean “literally”?

      1. “I shit you not”

    5. And why bother publishing a dictionary at all if words mean whatever anyone feels like at the time?

      1. `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

        `The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

        `The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – – that’s all.’

      2. Because they don’t mean ‘whatever anyone feels like at the time’. They mean what the users of the language agree that they mean. Otherwise there would be no communication.
        But they don’t mean what the government says they mean (except in the case of the FTC, and we who read Reason know what that does).
        Dictionaries just document what people mean when they use words–and there is no other source of meaning. Looking it up in a book doesn’t give you an answer, because the book got it from somewhere. You can look up the melting point of ice in a book because someone went out and checked. The same is true for dictionaries. There is no God-given set of meanings. Otherwise, all languages but English would be wrong. Or maybe all languages but !Xoo.

  12. What is this – National Pedantry Week?

    1. What is this, National Pedantry Week?

      /pendant

      1. wylie|2.3.12 @ 12:34PM|
        /pendant

        So you literally dangle from someone’s neck?

        1. RC’z law strikes again.

          1. that one was worth like 500pts, at least.

          2. I literally thought that was JOe’z LaW.

  13. “I have literally…figuratively scoured the globe in search of the ingredients in Krieger Kleanse.”

    1. “It figuratively kills me to say this, Cyril, but yeah…you did.”

  14. Hinkle you must be great at Scrabble.

    1. Dude’s a newspaper editor; what did you expect?

  15. I literally threw trash all over the street.

  16. This is literally nothing new. The word “literally” has been used as an intensifier for things that aren’t literally true for literally over a century. Dickens, Thackerary, Twain, Fitzgerald, Alcott, and others all did it, which is probably a good indication that it wasn’t out of the ordinary.

    Hinkle’s literally out of touch with the English language.

  17. Is this a language complaint thread? Let’s talk about how people think the word bemuse means “amuse”. STUPID MOTHERFUCKERS

    1. But that begs the question.

      1. I literally hope you DIAF fire for that one.

        1. Die in a fire fire?

          1. Literally the most intense fire.

          2. Literally the most intense fire.

          3. Die in a forest fire?

        2. It’s literally “Die In A Fucking” fire.

      2. The best part is that the accepted meaning is based on a misunderstanding. It comes from this couplet:

        “Is there a Parson, much bemus’d in beer,
        A maudlin Poetess, a rhyming Peer?”

        which is clearly talking about a drunk guy attempting poetry, i.e, he’s found his muse in beer. This has nothing to do with confusion. What the fuck could the Muses have to do with confusion? Fuck what the dictionary says.

        1. Wait, if he’s “in beer”, he could be drunk, which lends itself to bemusement.

          1. He’s drunk, and he thinks he’s eloquent. This is not open to debate.

            “BEMUSEMENT DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!”

            1. But a poetess is female. Not the same person as the “bemus’d” parson. Of course, I don’t know the context of that couplet; maybe I’m missing something.

              1. Shut, shut the door, good John! fatigu’d, I said,
                Tie up the knocker, say I’m sick, I’m dead.
                The dog-star rages! nay ’tis past a doubt,
                All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:
                Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand, [5]
                They rave, recite, and madden round the land.

                What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide?
                They pierce my thickets, through my grot they glide;
                By land, by water, they renew the charge;
                They stop the chariot, and they board the barge. [10]
                No place is sacred, not the church is free;
                Ev’n Sunday shines no Sabbath-day to me:
                Then from the Mint walks forth the Man of Ryme,
                Happy! to catch me just at Dinner-time.

                Is there a Parson, much bemus’d in beer, [15]
                A maudlin Poetess, a ryming Peer,
                A clerk, foredoom’d his father’s soul to cross,
                Who pens a stanza, when he should engross?
                Is there, who, lock’d from Ink and Paper, scrawls
                With desp’rate Charcoal round his darken’d walls? [20]
                All fly to Twit’nam, and in humble strain
                Apply to me, to keep them mad or vain.
                Arthur, whose giddy Son neglects the Laws,
                Imputes to me and my damn’d works the cause:
                Poor Cornus sees his frantic Wife elope, [25]
                And curses Wit, and Poetry, and Pope.

                http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~…..thnot.html

                Also, M-W backs me up.

                bemuse\bih-MYOOZ\
                DEFINITION
                verb

                1
                : to make confused : puzzle, bewilder
                2
                : to occupy the attention of : absorb
                3
                : to cause to have feelings of wry or tolerant amusement
                EXAMPLES
                She had neither asked for nor expected her newfound celebrity, and was bemused by all the attention she was receiving.

                “When Brazil’s central bank stepped into the market to defend the country’s weakening currency last month, many were a little bemused. After all, the country’s finance minister, Guido Mantega, has spent the best part of this year waging a currency war against the dollar and complaining about just how strong the Brazilian real is.” — From a blog post by Samantha Pearson at ft.com (The Financial Times), October 27, 2011
                DID YOU KNOW?
                In 1735, British poet Alexander Pope lamented, in rhyme, being besieged by “a parson much bemus’d in beer.” The cleric in question was apparently one of a horde of would-be poets who plagued Pope with requests that he read their verses. Pope meant that the parson had found his muse — his inspiration — in beer. That use of “bemus’d” harks back to a 1705 letter in which Pope wrote of “Poets ? irrecoverably Be-mus’d.” In both letter and poem, Pope used “bemused” to allude to being inspired by or devoted to one of the Muses, the Greek sister goddesses of art, music, and literature. The lexicographers who followed him, however, interpreted “bemus’d in beer” as meaning “left confused by beer,” and their confusion gave rise to the first modern sense of “bemused” above.

    2. So true. It’s as if they’re incapable of processing simple logistics.

      1. It always leaves me nonplussed.

    3. My language peeve is with people who whine about “irregardless” but are okay with “flammable”.

      1. I don’t get it. “Irregardless” is just plain not a word. “Flammable” is a long used and well accepted shortening of the word inflammable.

        1. Irregardless is absolutely a word. Check a dictionary. It is also long used, just not “well accepted”.

          Flammable is for the lazy and idiotic.

          1. Flammable is for the lazy and idiotic.

            Yeah, yeah, whatever.

    4. Or that think “en lieu of” means “because of”.

  18. OK, words change, but if “literally” changes to mean “figuratively,” what word will I use to get across the fact that I am not using a metaphor.

    1. Just use “literally” as an intensifier as many times as necessary. I literally literally am serious.

        1. Or, for shore, littorally.

          1. Beautiful.

          2. + 1000 grammar-Nazi points

      1. That’s awkward. Purists prefer litereallyally.

        1. “I’m holding you accountabilibuddyable!”

          1. I’m confused!

        2. No. It’s plulitterally. Or penlitterally.

      2. I think the new way kids are speaking these days, that sentence would be: I’m like totally serious you know.

    2. I propose that we start using figuratively to clarify that a statement is not a metaphor.

    3. Just start using ‘figuratively’, it will catch on, I plomise.

  19. Susan G. Komen has literally decided to reverse the decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood.

    1. When we told her our next project is to have a Planned Parenthood clinic up on bricks in every trailer park in America, she couldn’t help but admire the ambition.

      1. but good plan!

  20. what I find irritating is people who think there are degrees of uniqueness.

    1. or of correctness, or greenness, etc.

      There are, however, degrees of freedom.

    2. That is a very unique irritation you have there.

  21. From the Latin littera (letter or written communication). Kind of weird that something that otherwise refers to literary matters has come to take on the meaning of “actually” in its adverb form.

    1. Because we can use literarily.

    2. Also, literally has other meanings that are more, well, literal.

    3. Quiet, you unlettered buffoon.

      1. From the Italian buffone, meaning “puff of breath.” So what you’re saying is that I’m a breathing person without letters tattooed on me? I guess that’s true enough.

        1. No, you are literally an unwritten-on cloud of gas. How are you not grasping this?

          1. You literally can’t grab onto a volume of gas which wouldn’t form a cloud without some moisture present.

          2. I am gasping. What are you talking about?

            1. We’re literally using literally figuratively, then?

    4. Kind of weird that something that otherwise refers to literary matters has come to take on the meaning of “actually” in its adverb form.

      It’s idiomatic though, right? Ie, “by the letter”?

  22. Between this and yesterdays’ “I’ve got”, I am literally having a word orgasm

    1. Those creators have the best written cartoon series staring stick figures ever. Yes, I am serious. They are brilliant writers – that is no exception.

      1. Literally?

      2. They? Its one guy.

    2. Thats the 2nd appearance of etymology man this week.

  23. We need a law to put a stop to this literally-abuse.

    Such a law would figuratively violate the First Amendment.

    1. Bah, nobody takes the First Amendment literally anymore anyway.

  24. You know who uses “literally” a lot? British people.

    1. That was funny.

    2. They pronounce it wrong.

  25. >i>It’s Enough to Literally Make Your Head Explode

    Literally, which?

    1. The squirrel gods are men, they literally ruined my italics

      1. No, mom! I’m not spoiled! I’m not spoiled mom! I’m just as fresh and virginal like the day I was born, mom!

        1. Is there anything more tragic that a shitty spoof? And yes, I do mean literally full of shit

  26. No picture of Rob Lowe’s character in Parks and Recreation? He uses “literally” more profusely than everyone else I know combined. Literally.

  27. Actually Katrina wasn’t literally Cat-5 either when it hit landfall. If I remember correctly it was a 3 by the time it got to land.

    1. Figuratively.

    2. It didn’t “hit landfall,” it made landfall, when it hit land.

    3. I don’t think Katrina was insanely devastating as a storm. It was the problems with the levies, etc. that made it so godawful. Not that it wasn’t a bad storm–it was. But other storms have been much worse as far as direct effects go.

  28. Filler material for the essay collection.

  29. Really? Slow news day?

    Granted, the abuse of the word “literally” has literally irritated me as well, but it literally is not worth an article on Reason, is it?

    1. Literally everything is worth an article on reason.

    2. Cavanaugh started it with his Pedant post yesterday.

    3. They are giving us a break from articles that include the words “fiscal”, “deficit”, “debt/GDP ratio”, and “taxes” that always inspires Tony et al to crap all over the thread with thier Team Blue shilling.

  30. So begins the Friday-afternoon weekly-content-quota rush-dump.

    1. I literally took a rish-dump just now

  31. I have been guilty of this, and I have been trying to mend my ways over the last few years. I’m literally killing myself trying to avoid the transgression.

  32. I am frankly quite disappointed with the ridiculous display in this comments. Misuse of the word “literally” bugs the shit out of me. It’s just lazy speech and ignorance, two of my least favorite things.

    1. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
      Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
      Brown paper packages tied up with strings.
      These are a few of my favorite things.

      Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels,
      Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles,
      Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.
      These are a few of my favorite things.

      Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes,
      Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,
      Silver white winters that melt into springs,
      These are a few of my favorite things.

      When the dog bites,
      When the bee stings,
      When I’m feeling sad.
      I simply remember my favorite things
      And then I don’t feel so bad.

      Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
      Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
      Brown paper packages tied up with strings.
      These are a few of my favorite things.

      Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels,
      Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles,
      Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.
      These are a few of my favorite things.

      Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes,
      Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,
      Silver white winters that melt into springs,
      These are a few of my favorite things.

      When the dog bites,
      When the bee stings,
      When I’m feeling sad.
      I simply remember my favorite things
      And then I don’t feel so bad.

      1. Why don’t we do it in the road?
        Why don’t we do it in the road?
        Why don’t we do it in the road?
        Why don’t we do it in the road?
        No one will be watching us,
        Why don’t we do it in the road?

        1. [Bottle of Claret for you if I had realised?

          Well, do it next time.

          I forgot about it, George, I’m sorry.
          Will you forgive me?

          Yes.]

          Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9,
          number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9,
          number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9,

          Then there’s this Welsh Rarebit wearing some brown underpants
          About the shortage of grain in Hertfordshire
          Everyone of them knew that as time went by
          They’d get a little bit older and a litter slower but
          It’s all the same thing, in this case manufactured by someone who’s always
          Umpteen your father’s giving it diddly-i-dee
          District was leaving, intended to pay for

          Number 9, number 9

          Who’s to know?
          Who was to know?

          Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9,
          number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9

          I sustained nothing worse than
          Also for example
          Whatever you’re doing
          A business deal falls through
          I informed him on the third night
          When fortune gives

          Number 9, number 9, number 9

          People ride, people ride
          Ride, ride, ride, ride, ride
          Ride! Ride!

          9, number 9, number 9, number 9

          I’ve missed all of that
          It makes me a few days late
          Compared with, like, wow!
          And weird stuff like that
          Taking our sides sometimes
          Floral bark
          Rouge doctors have brought this specimen

          I have nobody’s short-cuts, aha?

          9, number 9

          With the situation

          They are standing still

          The plan, the telegram

          Ooh ooh

          Number 9, number

          Ooh

          A man without terrors from beard to false
          As the headmaster reported to me
          My son he really can try as they do to find function
          Tell what he was saying, and his voice was low and his hive high
          And his eyes were low

          Alright!

          Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9,
          number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9,

          So the wife called me and we’d better go to see a surgeon
          Or whatever to price it? yellow underclothes
          So, any road, we went to see the dentist instead
          Who gave her a pair of teeth which wasn’t any good at all
          So I said I’d marry, join the fucking navy and went to sea

          In my broken chair, my wings are broken and so is my hair
          I’m not in the mood for whirling

          Um da
          Aaah

          How?
          Dogs for dogging, hands for clapping
          Birds for birding and fish for fishing
          Them for themming and when for whimming

          Only to find the night-watchman
          Unaware of his presence in the building

          Onion soup

          Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9

          Industrial output
          Financial imbalance

          Thrusting it between his shoulder blades

          The Watusi
          The twist

          Eldorado

          Take this brother, may it serve you well

          Maybe it’s nothing
          Aaah
          Maybe it’s nothing
          What? What? Oh

          Maybe even then
          Impervious in London
          Could be difficult thing
          It’s quick like rush for peace is
          Because it’s so much

          It was like being naked
          If you became naked

          1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen they words to that track (song might be stretching it) before.

            1. Before I posted that, I thought it was just some spoken words at the beginning and endless Number 9s. Guess it’s been a while since I actually listened to the song.

    2. …ridiculous display in this comments…

      Feature, not a bug, and besides that’s the best part of these threads.

    3. bugs the shit out of me

      Literally?

      But seriously, +1.

      1. Well that might be better than shitting the bugs out of you.

    4. I’m with you, Joe. “Literally” is being used to mean exactly the opposite of what it is supposed to mean. Sure, language changes, but some things are just dumb.

  33. Kilpatrick still lives……

  34. Frasier:    Hello Doug, this is Dr. Frasier Crane. I’m listening.

    Doug:       Look, it’s about my mother. She’s getting on now and
                      she doesn’t have much of a life. And she doesn’t want to do
                      anything or go anywhere and she literally hangs around the
                      house all day. I mean, it’s very frustrating…

    Frasier:    I’m sorry Doug, can we just go back a second? You said your
                      mother literally hangs around the house. Well, I suppose
                      it’s a pet peeve of mine but I suppose what you mean is that
                      she figuratively “hangs around” the house. To literally hang
                      around the house you’d have to be a bat or spider monkey.

                      Now, back to your problem?

    Doug:      Do you mind if we stop while I tell you my pet peeve?

    Frasier:   Not at all.

    Doug:      I hate it when intellectual pinheads with superiority complexes
                      nit-pick your grammar when they come to you for help. That’s
                      what I got a problem with! (hangs up)

    Frasier:   I think what he means is, that is a thing, with which he has a problem.

    1. Mama so fat, when she hang around the house, SHE LITERALLY HANG AROUND THE HOUSE!

      You ever watch white folks eat chicken….

      /”urban” comedian

  35. Dollars to doughnuts, The Awl’s Choire Sicha (who’s a dude, not a “she”) was having a little joke with his “literally” predilections. NEED BETTER EXAMPLE!

    1. Then again, he could have been using the common vernacular and incorrectly used literally.

  36. But in your first example Albert Brooks literally used it correctly.

  37. Worst offender with overuse and incorrect use of “literally”: Sean Hannity.

    I no longer listen to him because it literally made me want to literally vomit, but if you can bring yourself to stomach it, listen to his show sometime and do a shot of booze every time he says “literally.” You should be able to get pretty hammered within an hour.

    1. Interesting – I, too, no longer can listen to Hannity. It’s instant-off with the radio. Or, I guess TV, not that I’m a big Fox watcher anyway.

      Hannity, The President, Newcular Titties – just can’t stand the sound of their voices and turn them off or switch the channel or hit mute when they come on. Literally.

      And you are, of course, totally correct about Hannity’s overuse of “literally”. Kind of like how Newcular overuses “fundamental/ly” – fundamentally, Newcular’s a shitstain.

  38. A. Barton Hinkle Heimerschmidt
    His name literally is my name, too!
    Whenever we go out
    people literally always shout,
    “There goes A. Barton Hinkle Heimerschmidt, LITERALLY!”
    LALALALALALALA…

    1. Fuck, now that damn song is literally stuck in my head.

  39. This literally made me realize that we are all just a bunch of phony city-state supporting hypocrites who fail to understand the awesomeness of Gambolling. And now, I literally sounds as stupid as everyone who rants about city-statism and gambolling

    1. I literally just realized how right you are, and the literal awesomeness of literally gamboling across a plain.

      That would literally make me die and go to heaven. LITERALLY.

  40. I could care less … or is it, I couldn’t care less.

    What bothers me is when pundits say somebody has made an “unbelievably accurate assessment” or an “incredible analysis”, by which they mean that the information is believed because it is so accurate and credible.

    Seriously, such inane expressions are markers of intelligence. That’s why pundits like Hannity screw up on them so often.

  41. srsly – I just heard someone in my office say, “She is LITERALLY trying to take a firehose to all our hardwork” exactly as I was reading this!

  42. literally fucking decimated

    1. decimated

      So one in ten (of whatever group) was chosen at random and executed pour encourager les autres?

      Decimation isn’t total (or even near-total) destruction, but rather a deliberate ten-percent slaughter inflicted upon a military unit as a disciplinary measure, usually in the punishment of cowardice under fire.

  43. You mean “bountiful,” not “plentiful.” “The land was really, really, bountiful” is the intended meaning of “flowed with milk and honey.”

  44. 1. Rationalism and pretextual theory
    “Sexual identity is a legal fiction,” says Debord. But the characteristic theme of Long’s[1] critique of the cultural paradigm of discourse is a mythopoetical totality.

    If one examines neomaterial narrative, one is faced with a choice: either reject rationalism or conclude that reality is used to entrench hierarchy, but only if the cultural paradigm of discourse is valid; if that is not the case, narrative is a product of communication. The premise of rationalism states that sexuality is intrinsically responsible for capitalism, given that reality is distinct from truth. Thus, Sontag promotes the use of the cultural paradigm of discourse to modify culture.

    The subject is contextualised into a pretextual theory that includes truth as a whole. It could be said that any number of constructions concerning rationalism may be found.

    The subject is interpolated into a cultural paradigm of discourse that includes reality as a totality. But Foucault suggests the use of rationalism to deconstruct sexism.

    The primary theme of the works of Rushdie is the difference between society and narrativity. It could be said that in The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Rushdie affirms pretextual theory; in The Moor’s Last Sigh, although, he analyses rationalism.

    An abundance of narratives concerning the role of the observer as artist exist. In a sense, the characteristic theme of McElwaine’s[2] analysis of postsemioticist constructive theory is a self-referential paradox.

    2. Rushdie and the cultural paradigm of discourse
    “Society is meaningless,” says Debord. Baudrillard promotes the use of pretextual theory to read and analyse class. It could be said that Buxton[3] suggests that the works of Rushdie are empowering.

    “Art is fundamentally a legal fiction,” says Lyotard; however, according to Porter[4] , it is not so much art that is fundamentally a legal fiction, but rather the failure of art. The main theme of the works of Eco is the futility, and eventually the stasis, of neocapitalist class. Therefore, the cultural paradigm of discourse holds that the collective is capable of intent.

    In the works of Eco, a predominant concept is the concept of textual culture. Many discourses concerning pretextual theory may be revealed. In a sense, the subject is contextualised into a rationalism that includes reality as a totality.

    “Sexual identity is impossible,” says Debord. Sartre’s model of the cultural paradigm of discourse suggests that art has significance. Thus, the characteristic theme of Hamburger’s[5] essay on rationalism is the bridge between class and narrativity.

    If one examines pretextual theory, one is faced with a choice: either accept rationalism or conclude that truth is capable of significance. An abundance of deappropriations concerning the role of the writer as participant exist. It could be said that Bataille uses the term ‘pretextual theory’ to denote the common ground between class and society.

    “Sexual identity is part of the meaninglessness of consciousness,” says Baudrillard; however, according to Abian[6] , it is not so much sexual identity that is part of the meaninglessness of consciousness, but rather the failure, and subsequent stasis, of sexual identity. Any number of narratives concerning the cultural paradigm of discourse may be discovered. However, the subject is interpolated into a rationalism that includes truth as a paradox.

    If one examines the cultural paradigm of discourse, one is faced with a choice: either reject pretextual theory or conclude that art serves to oppress minorities, given that the cultural paradigm of discourse is invalid. In Chasing Amy, Smith denies pretextual theory; in Clerks he examines textual desemioticism. It could be said that the main theme of the works of Smith is the role of the poet as participant.

    In the works of Smith, a predominant concept is the distinction between feminine and masculine. Many appropriations concerning the paradigm, and some would say the rubicon, of predialectic sexuality exist. In a sense, if rationalism holds, the works of Smith are not postmodern.

    The subject is contextualised into a cultural subtextual theory that includes narrativity as a reality. Therefore, the characteristic theme of Wilson’s[7] model of rationalism is the role of the poet as reader.

    Bataille suggests the use of the cultural paradigm of discourse to attack capitalism. However, in Mallrats, Smith analyses pretextual theory; in Dogma, however, he denies the dialectic paradigm of narrative.

    The main theme of the works of Smith is the stasis of pretextual society. Therefore, Scuglia[8] holds that we have to choose between rationalism and neosemioticist patriarchialism.

    The primary theme of Cameron’s[9] essay on pretextual theory is the difference between culture and class. However, Lyotard promotes the use of the cultural paradigm of discourse to deconstruct society.

    Several deappropriations concerning rationalism may be revealed. Therefore, Lacan suggests the use of pretextual theory to attack colonialist perceptions of sexual identity.

    A number of narratives concerning the role of the poet as participant exist. But the subject is interpolated into a capitalist libertarianism that includes language as a totality.

    Lyotard uses the term ‘the cultural paradigm of discourse’ to denote not discourse, but postdiscourse. In a sense, the subject is contextualised into a subcultural paradigm of reality that includes consciousness as a reality.

    If the cultural paradigm of discourse holds, the works of Smith are reminiscent of Glass. Therefore, Sartre’s analysis of pretextual theory implies that the raison d’etre of the poet is social comment.

    Baudrillard promotes the use of dialectic theory to read and modify sexuality. In a sense, the characteristic theme of the works of Smith is the rubicon, and some would say the dialectic, of prematerial sexual identity.

    3. Pretextual theory and deconstructivist subcultural theory
    If one examines rationalism, one is faced with a choice: either accept deconstructivist subcultural theory or conclude that truth may be used to reinforce hierarchy, but only if sexuality is equal to narrativity; otherwise, Derrida’s model of the cultural paradigm of discourse is one of “dialectic nationalism”, and therefore intrinsically unattainable. The example of deconstructivist subcultural theory which is a central theme of Smith’s Clerks emerges again in Chasing Amy, although in a more mythopoetical sense. Therefore, the premise of rationalism suggests that the law is part of the futility of sexuality.

    An abundance of desemioticisms concerning deconstructivist subcultural theory may be found. However, rationalism states that language is capable of truth.

    Many discourses concerning the role of the artist as participant exist. In a sense, Humphrey[10] suggests that we have to choose between deconstructivist subcultural theory and textual objectivism.

    A number of desublimations concerning rationalism may be revealed. But the subject is interpolated into a deconstructivist subcultural theory that includes truth as a paradox.

    ——————————————————————————–

    1. Long, P. E. T. (1987) Rationalism and the cultural paradigm of discourse. Panic Button Books

    2. McElwaine, Q. ed. (1991) The Consensus of Dialectic: The cultural paradigm of discourse and rationalism. Loompanics

    3. Buxton, W. S. (1988) The cultural paradigm of discourse in the works of Eco. And/Or Press

    4. Porter, G. F. S. ed. (1970) The Economy of Expression: Rationalism, Lacanist obscurity and socialism. Harvard University Press

    5. Hamburger, P. W. (1998) Rationalism and the cultural paradigm of discourse. Yale University Press

    6. Abian, J. P. L. ed. (1971) Reinventing Social realism: Rationalism in the works of Smith. University of Illinois Press

    7. Wilson, I. G. (1982) The cultural paradigm of discourse and rationalism. Schlangekraft

    8. Scuglia, F. O. T. ed. (1979) Deconstructing Foucault: Rationalism and the cultural paradigm of discourse. O’Reilly & Associates

    9. Cameron, I. (1990) The cultural paradigm of discourse in the works of Smith. Panic Button Books

    10. Humphrey, J. O. R. ed. (1974) The Burning Sky: Socialism, postcapitalist situationism and rationalism. And/Or Press

  45. “Archer” had a bunch of funny gags on this in last week’s episode for anyone that caught it.

  46. yes, They’ve literally decimated the meaning of the word.

  47. Verbal retentive here with a comment: “literally” literally means “figuratively”. The use of “literally” as “exactly” is itself a corruption of our beautiful barbarian language.

  48. Equally obnoxious is “going forward,” so beloved by semi-literate corporate types…as if it were possible to go “backward.” This bit of nonsense has worked its way from the board room to the locker room. Believe me,if there WERE an option to “going forward”, I would take it…

  49. “Begs the question” is one that I lay right at the feet of political “pundits.” Begging the question, as I recollect, has a very precise meaning in logic: using as a “given” in one’s argument that which remains unproven. Our modern wordsmiths mean, I think, “requires an answer to,” or something like that…

  50. Sean Hannity literally misuses the term a thousand times a day. It literally drives me bananas to hear him misuse the term. The founding fathers are literally spinning in their graves or Obama is literally turning our world upside and other such nonsense. I was hoping you had mentioned Hannity. For goodness sakes, someone has got to tell this to Hannity.

  51. This may be more of a British thing, but why has “yes” been replaced with “absolutely”?

  52. When I was a kid, I was once listening to a N.Y. Mets baseball broadcast when someone on the Mets hit a game winning home run, and to my horror, the announcer Bob Murphy shouted:”And the crowd literally exploded!”

  53. It never fails. Someone starts ranting about a particular usage, but never goes to the trouble to LOOK IT UP IN A DICTIONARY. Here’s what the OED says. Note the usage goes back to the 18th Century.

    c. colloq. Used to indicate that some (freq. conventional) metaphorical or hyperbolical expression is to be taken in the strongest admissible sense: ‘virtually, as good as’; (also) ‘completely, utterly, absolutely’.
    Now one of the most common uses, although often considered irregular in standard English since it reverses the original sense of literally (‘not figuratively or metaphorically’).

    1769 F. Brooke Hist. Emily Montague IV. ccxvii. 83 He is a fortunate man to be introduced to such a party of fine women at his arrival; it is literally to feed among the lilies.
    1801 Spirit of Farmers’ Museum 262 He is, literally, made up of marechal powder, cravat, and bootees.

    I’m always amazed when people can’t be bothered to do the research on this. Dictionaries are not hard to find, are they?

  54. Ha! This reminds me… years ago, working retail on a slow day, my coworker and I were digging our elbows into the counter, when someone walked in and asked to speak to the store manager, who had gone to lunch.

    “Oh, I’m sorry. He’s out to lunch,” I said.

    “Really?” ask the man, a bit annoyed.

    “Well, not literally,” I dead-panned. “He’s not really out to lunch. He just went to get something to eat.”

  55. This column hits the nail on its head, literally.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.