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Maxx
01-09-2012, 07:51 PM
What struck me about this here thing is the comments about literally that literally follow the article:

http://io9.com/5741163/how-massive-volcanic-eruptions-flying-coal-and-supercharged-greenhouse-gases-almost-wiped-out-life-on-earth?tag=mass-extinction

HarryHoskins
01-10-2012, 12:08 AM
I didn't click on the link because it seems to be about Massive Vellipsis Ass-Extinction -- and to be honest, that sort of thing frightens me. :)

mirandashell
01-10-2012, 12:21 AM
The misuse of 'literally' does my head in. Metaphorically.

SPMiller
01-16-2012, 07:54 AM
I ordinarily have no problem with changes in usage, semantic drift, and whatnot, but the literal/metaphorical thing bugs me. We don't appear to have a replacement for what literal used to mean. When I wish to say that something really-actually-totally-seriously did happen, no lie, I no longer have an easy way to express that. Not only is literal used to describe something that isn't literal, it's also used to describe what metaphorical used to cover. Metaphorical, on the other hand, rarely appears in speech. All of this leads to obfuscation of meaning. So, when a friend tells me, "He literally fucked me," I don't know whether they mean that there was sexual penetration, or whether they mean a different sense of fuck. Without literally, I'd know they didn't mean sex. Perhaps when people stop using literal in its old sense, I won't have to think about the difference anymore.

The same can be said about irony/coincidence/randomness. People say, "That's so random." Well, no, whatever they're talking about usually isn't random at all. Instead, it's usually a coincidence. Certain articles and brands of clothing worn by yuppies are usually not ironic. You'd expect a yuppie to wear shit like that; it's the opposite of ironic. And you almost never hear coincidental at all.

QuantumIguana
01-19-2012, 07:58 PM
When people say "literally", to mean "metaphorically", they are implying the intensity of the metaphor. If someone said "He metaphorically smacked us down," that wouldn't carry the same intensity as "he literally smacked us down." The word "literally" gets borrowed as an intensifier, but at the cost of ambiguity.

Maxx
02-06-2012, 06:40 PM
When people say "literally", to mean "metaphorically", they are implying the intensity of the metaphor. If someone said "He metaphorically smacked us down," that wouldn't carry the same intensity as "he literally smacked us down." The word "literally" gets borrowed as an intensifier, but at the cost of ambiguity.

The word literally is actually a word (or original usage) that has been utterly wrenched into a totally confusing set of usages. Ironically, literally is approaching not just being confusing, but a strange form of meaninglessness since it literally tags something as intense while at the same time signaling the usefulness of complete incomprehension in a particular context. About the best you can say for it is that you literally "had to be there" to know what on earth somebody using literally might actually be trying to be intense about.