May 18, 2010

"Man, talking about 'literally' to mean 'figuratively' is sooo 2005."

A commenter scoffs at David Bernstein (linking here.

And someone else links to this:



So Bernstein didn't get the fun he'd hoped for out of quoting Jeremiah Wright's "When Obama threw me under the bus, he threw me under the bus literally!" and quipping "Obama Accused of Attempted Murder?"

And I'm glad I didn't bother with the usage humor yesterday when I quoted "I was literally transformed back to that little snot nosed kid who you met and inspired 31 years earlier..." Even though that's a much funnier image than a man crushed by bus wheels.

16 comments:

Meade said...

LLOL

Skeptical said...

We may as well stop after Meade's.

rhhardin said...

My comment at volokh:

Literally isn’t used to mean figuratively; literally is used figuratively.

“So true that it might as well be literally true.”

That is how it came to be listed by clueless lexicographers as an emphasizer.

Being used figuratively doesn’t keep it from being a cliche, of course. But it’s felt as figurative nevertheless.

reader_iam said...

FLOL @ LM's LLOL

halojones-fan said...

Of course, he begs the question of how we're supposed to emphasize things.

(see what I did there?)

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

Is this not literally using the term instead of the f-word, which seems to be the only other emphasizer people are using these days?

Toy, literally!

Ann Althouse said...

This is literally a big fucking deal.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

Ha! See?!

Toy

Mike said...

I don't know - Jeremiah Wright crushed by bus wheels might be funny...

The Real Barack said...

I don't know who Bernstein is but that cartoon is very funny IMO. And Rev. Wright is still a joke and a big embarrassment to me.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

This is literally a big fucking deal.

Sex and British TV? Again??

hawkeyedjb said...

Feh. I could care less.

No, wait: I COULDN'T care less.

Literally.

Be said...

Head on Desk, Arms crossed to shield eyes. (I swear it - went from age Five to Seventy Five.)

Be said...

Oh - what about "Creamed" vs "Cream-ate-d" because the Extra Syllable Increases the Word Weight That Much.

jamboree said...

I prefer the use of literally in most instances like that. Even though technically incorrect, the *overall* point made is that the speaker *felt* the figurative event so intensely that it seemed real to them. It's a way of adding emphasis in the vernacular - of trying to communicate emotional reality which is destroyed by people getting stuffy and academic about it.

awesomecards said...

Misusing the word "literally" is a peeve of mine. My favorite is a Rush Limbaugh line just after the 2004 VP debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards.

According to Limbaugh, "Cheney literally ate his lunch." I was left with this picture of John Edwards: Not only did he lose the debate, but he had to go hungry at the same time.