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When people mis-use literally it bugs me, Anyone else?

  1. Aug 6, 2009 #1
    When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    We all have our language pet peeves. Mine is when someone says "literally" when they (quite literally :)) mean figuratively. Like when someone says "That test was "literally" hard as can be" or "that test was "literally" hard as a rock". Or even when someone says "That was "literally" the worst movie I've ever seen" EVERYTIME they see a bad movie. Unless every single bad movie they've seen, through a total fluke of nature, REALLY IS worse than the previous one (and the worst they've ever seen in their lives) they're exaggerating. So why say "literally"? Why not simply say "That was like the worst movie I've ever seen". To say "literally" it suggests that this is not just hyperbole but you've actually considered and qualified this sentence and are sure it is of the utmost veracity.

    Anywho, does this bug anyone else? What are other peoples language pet peeves?
     
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  3. Aug 6, 2009 #2

    Pengwuino

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    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    Like oh my god, you're like, so right!
     
  4. Aug 6, 2009 #3
    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    Well I don't really care much about grammar but I guess why this one bothers me so much is that it has nothing to do with language. It's a LOGICAL FALLACY. It suggests the person cannot correctly determine what is a truthful statement and what is a hyperbolic one.
     
  5. Aug 6, 2009 #4

    cristo

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    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    It's because lots of people don't really know what the word literally means: they just use it as an adverb to emphasise that they really do mean what they're saying.

    Anyway, I don't see this "That was like the worst movie I've ever seen" as much better.

    It's best for me not to start on things that annoy me about peoples use of language!
     
  6. Aug 6, 2009 #5
    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    Wow, a lot of people don't like the "like". I think if you just said "The was the worst movie I've ever seen" it'd be TOO hyperbolic (if it clearly WASN'T the WORST movie you've ever seen). To me the "like" acts to lighten the qualifier, so to speak. However, i'm in the "language is an arbitrary and fluid construct of a culture" camp. So when one talks about "the death of the english language" I have no idea what they're talking about. Is it "the death" because we don't talk/write like Henry James or Dickens anymore? Or perhaps like Shakespeare. Or maybe Chaucer. Perhaps the authors of Beowulf?
     
  7. Aug 6, 2009 #6

    cristo

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    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    How about "That was one of the worst movies I've ever seen"?

    Language can't be arbitrary: if it were, then you and I would not have a clue what the other one was saying.
     
  8. Aug 6, 2009 #7
    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    How is saying "like" arbitrary. You were perfectly aware what I was saying.
     
  9. Aug 6, 2009 #8

    cristo

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    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    You said

    hence I replied that language cannot be arbitrary.
     
  10. Aug 6, 2009 #9
    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    Arbitrary in the sense that the word for water could have been "water" or "safdkabksa" it really doesn't matter.
     
  11. Aug 6, 2009 #10
    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    from dictionary.com:

    Word History: Water is wet, even etymologically. The Indo-European root of water is *wed-, "wet." This root could appear in several guises-with the vowel e, as here, or as *wod-, or with no vowel between the w and d, yielding *ud-. All three forms of the root appear in English either in native or in borrowed words. From a form with a long e, *wēd-, which by Grimm's Law became *wēt- in Germanic, we have Old English wǣt, "wet," which became modern English wet. The form *wod-, in a suffixed form *wod-ōr, became *watar in Germanic and eventually water in modern English. From the form *ud- the Greeks got their word for water, hud-ōr, the source of our prefix hydro- and related words like hydrant. The suffixes *-rā and *-ros added to the form *ud- yielded the Greek word hudrā, "water snake" (borrowed into English as hydra), and the Germanic word *otraz, the source of our word otter, the water animal.

    How is that arbitrary? If they named it 'safdkabksa' for no reason then THAT would have been arbitrary but only the word would have been arbitrarly made. To me this in no one implies language is arbitrary or else how would we understand each other.
     
  12. Aug 6, 2009 #11
    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    Then how were the first words made? Would you like to explain the correspondence of the sounds and number of syllables in a word to the bit of reality to which they refer? Better than that how about the words that describe things which have no concrete existence in reality? Or words for words sake such as 'a' 'the' and 'and'?

    You may find precursors and reasons or hypotheses for changes and evolution but you will find no objective reason for why any particular word means a particular thing.
     
  13. Aug 6, 2009 #12
    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    Pointing out that sounds and word in different languages evolve in time and depending on cultural events has absolutely nothing to do with what I was talking about. There is absolutely no logical reason to justify attaching one sound to an idea versus another. It's arbitrary. Whether we call water "water", "aqua", "eau" there is no MORE CORRECT word for the object. It's entirely arbitrary. Pointing out why those particular sounds have come to be used is entirely unrelated.
     
  14. Aug 6, 2009 #13
    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    Furthermore, although it may keep some very silly people awake at night, the fact that people do not have the same concern over dangling participils or split infinitives that they once did is by no means the death of human creativity or poetry. It has not degraded, in any way, the ability of one english speaker to communicate with another. Nor our ability to describe experience and observation. In fact the idea that a language can become "corrupted" suggests there was an uncorrupted version to begin with. So what would that be? Chaucer's english? The queen's english? Valley girl speak?
     
  15. Aug 6, 2009 #14

    cristo

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    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    Sure, vocabulary is arbitrary, but language isn't. Language has strict rules which one must abide by, otherwise two persons would not be able to understand one another.
     
  16. Aug 6, 2009 #15
    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    I'm told that linguistics is descriptive, not prescriptive. If people start saying safdkabksa when they mean water, then it is the job of the linguist to make note of it, not to lement it. That said, I do have a wistful look on my face when I hear people redefine the meaning of the phrase 'beg the question'. Its traditional meaning of 'take for granted' is so interesting and its evolving meaning is handled better by the phrase 'raise the question'.
     
  17. Aug 6, 2009 #16

    Redbelly98

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    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    This thread is literally driving me nuts.

    :biggrin:
     
  18. Aug 6, 2009 #17
    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    I'm sure there are plenty of ebonics and cockney speakers out there that understand one another just fine no matter how much they may butcher 'proper' grammar.
     
  19. Aug 6, 2009 #18
    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    Or just read anything by Faulkner.
     
  20. Aug 6, 2009 #19

    mgb_phys

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    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    Unless they meant it was similair to the worst movie they had ever seen. So the worst movie ever is a particular Michael Bay explosion-fest then any other explosion-fest is 'like' the worst movie ever!
     
  21. Aug 6, 2009 #20
    Re: When people mis-use "literally" it bugs me, Anyone else?

    You said that the word 'water' was given to describe 'water' arbitrarily. Clearly this isn't the case. Sure if you go WAY back to when language was FIRST created then it IS arbitrary but ENGLISH is for the most part not, its a compounded language based on other languages which can clearly be traced back. I ALSO conceited that WORDS can be arbitrarily selected but that does not imply that language is arbitrary. If you try talking to me using your 'arbitrary' language your not longer speaking the LANGUAGE English. Your speaking something else.
     
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