Saturday, August 29, 2009


Recently came across an ever growing club: AWFUL: Americans Who Figuratively Use 'Literally'.

From White Plume:

According to Steven Pinker's book, The Stuff of Thought, Roger Tobin coined this acronym. The book says:

The charter member was Rabbi Baruch Korff, a defender of Richard Nixon during his Watergate ordeal, who at one point protested, "The American press has literally emasculated President Nixon."
As our language evolves, using literally when speaking figuratively is becoming more accepted in informal speech as a method of exaggeration. However, in formal writing, I recommend you use both words precisely. When you're literally correct, you avoid figuratively pushing proper English out the door.
Now, I don't mind if words change their meaning as long as we have some word to stand for each of the meanings that are useful to preserve. As precise/literal sense of 'literally' is gradually being eroded away (not literally!), perhaps we should be on the lookout for words that might take its place.

How about 'metaphorically' or 'figuratively'? We could just gradually swap the meanings of 'literally' and 'figuratively'. Say I want to emphasize that what I'm saying is not a mere figurative exaggeration (I really was knocked out --- i.e., rendered unconscious --- by last night's band), I could say, 'I was figuratively knocked out by the band last night!' --- meaning not figuratively. Maybe after a while their meanings would swap back --- rather like the earth's magnetic field.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Star Wars . . . kinda

This has been making the rounds on the web, I'm sure, but in case you haven't seen it (and have seen Star Wars), it's freaking hilarious:

Here's what's going on (from the creator):
My friend Amanda had never seen a whole Star Wars film. When I asked her if she wanted to watch the original trilogy she said that she would, but that she already knew what happens. So I took out my voice recorder and asked her to start from the top.

Even though I have seen the trilogy a bunch of times, I'm not confident that I could do significantly better if someone was holding a mic up to my face. Well, okay, I wouldn't have left off the Ice Planet Hoth. . . .

It's kinda funny thinking about how one would describe any movie's plots at a medium-level of detail. For example, though one could describe The Big Lebowski as about a lazy middle-aged stoner's "misadventures" or some such, how the hell would you explain its plot to someone? "So there's this guy who comes home to find these two thugs, one of which pees on his rug. . . ." Go on?!? . . .