Fat Mogul vs. ‘Literally’

from easyvegan.info...and since I'm much more Ron Swanson about such things, I definitely didn't read the post.
from easyvegan.info…and since I’m much more Ron Swanson about such things, I definitely didn’t read the post.

Guess what, wifey ‘o mine!  It’s time for some ranting.

Jeez does she love some rants.  She just told me yesterday, when I was letting her in on how my web traffic was growing, that it wasn’t due to her, because she just doesn’t read my blog as much anymore.

Well, then my stats’ll be booming today, because I’ve got quite the rant for you.

You know those people.  The ones where you use the word literally and they *literally* jump down your throat to let you know that you meant to use the word figuratively.  I die a little inside every time I see that response.  And then my brain explodes in a tirade of “No! I F’ing meant literally because who the h#ll says figuratively when metaphors are generally understood by everyone in the civilized world you idiot?  Haven’t you ever heard of hyperbole?!?”

I do feel a little easier whenever I get to watch old episodes of Parks and Recreation and I see Rob Lowe’s character begin to overuse the term time and time again.

First, if you’re one of those people who like to get down on others because of their use of the word literally…just stop reading.  In fact, you don’t understand hyperbole or exaggeration, so you might not want to read my books…in fact…maybe you were one of those folks who rated me lowly…that would explain a lot 😉

Second, if you’re one of the people who has been attacked by this sort of pitiful grammar police state activity rest assured in one thing.  You’re not as wrong as they want you to think.  Also…they’re a$$holes.

The English language of today has reached a level of hyperbole that I think most people don’t even fully recognize what hyperbole is anymore.  I often use the word awesome when someone tells me something that is of relatively good news.  What they are telling me did not fill me with awe…in fact, it may have made me barely crack a smile…it’s just a word I use to express happiness for someone else.  Starving…I use this term way too often when I realize lunch time has just passed me by.  I’ve recently begun correcting myself whenever I do, as it seems to be rather a poor choice of words considering how much it minimalizes the idea of starving for those who are literally (yep…I used literally absolutely correctly here, folks) starving.  But the truth is…we use exaggeration to make our point.

In fact, I’ve heard many people use the phrase, “I’m literally starving” to mean that they are very very hungry.  Now, while it may be more precise to state, “I’m figuratively starving”, it doesn’t actually get to the point that the speaker is trying to express.  Amusingly enough…the procession of language here appears quite obvious.  One day, to express great hungry, possible due to missing a meal, a person probably said something along the lines of, “I’m starving”.  A phrase that was filled with great exaggeration, seeing as he had had a large breakfast that morning, but had managed to skip lunch.  As time progressed, starving became somewhat synonymous with hunger (at least within the vernacular) and such a statement just didn’t seem to get things across quite as well as it should.

That’s when the phrase HAD TO BE CHANGED.  There was no option.  Suddenly telling people that you were starving just wasn’t enough.  Everyone was starving.  I mean, they all had breakfast and lunch and it was only mid afternoon, but you could hear the stomachs rumbling, they were starving.  No, this new person realized something different about his hunger.  He wasn’t just starving in the funny exaggerative sense, he was “literally starving”, still in the exaggerative sense, but much more emphasis on how much he was just really really hungry.

In other words…our current use of the word literally is really just based on our cultures absolute need to one up each other in everything.

We exaggerate…it’s just how we work.  Look at Paul Bunyan and try to pretend that we haven’t done this since the start of our nation.

Literally is just another example of how we do precisely this.  Now, I can totally understand being tired of how overused this term can be…it most definitely is overused.  But replying to such a comment by saying it would be more accurate to use the word figuratively is completely missing the point.  A person who is telling you that they are “literally starving” isn’t trying to express a metaphor.  They are trying to express hyperbole.  These are very different things.

And now you just look like an a$$hole for trying to correct them.

Of course…trends being what they are…every other person on the planet will copy you because that’s what people do…so, before long, maybe we really will have people saying that they are “figuratively starving”…which…amusingly enough…seems to be much less hungry than just saying “I’m starving”.

Hyperbole vs. Metaphor…learn the difference, yo!

The more you know…or something like that.

Anyways, the rant is over.  Hope you all learned something about how much I hate seeing people corrected on something so completely stupid.

Have fun out there!


2 Replies to “Fat Mogul vs. ‘Literally’”

  1. Not to mention the English language is hardly static. Words change meaning all the time and different context can imply different meaning. This whole literally thing is everyone jumping up and down and screaming “it can’t change,” but languages can and do change based on usage. That’s what living languages do. It’s literally inevitable.

    1. I’m often annoyed by grammatical errors and typos, especially when I see them in signage (I’m only mildly irritated when seen on facebook or wherever…seeing as I have enough of them), but when it comes down to stupid things like this where people obviously know what is meant (not to mention that the rule is intentionally being broken to make a point, so to speak), I think English nerds are just too damned tired of being nerds and want to be king in the electronic world where words are written…or something…I don’t know. I literally don’t 😉

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