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Featured Literally?!

Discussion in 'Obsessions and Interests' started by Kalinychta, Oct 30, 2019.

  1. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    The way people misuse the word "literally" completely drives me up the wall. It's like nails on a chalkboard every time I hear it, which is pretty much every day.

    "I literally got into my car and went to the store." Huh?
    "People literally don't like me." Um...
    "I literally want to go home right now." Okay...?

    The way certain words and phrases suddenly become "epidemically" popular and the way people just unconsciously integrate them into their everyday vocabulary is a strange thing to me. Remember when people used to say, "I know, right?" As an autistic person who so often actually does take things literally or at face value, my knee-jerk response to that question was always: "You're asking me to confirm that you know something? How would I know what you know?"

    In the same way that loud noises and anything "out of place" can result in me having a full-blown meltdown, hearing words misused and overused causes that familiar "meltdown feeling" to creep into me. Does anyone else experience this? Not necessarily about the word "literally" but about anything, any kind of strange, specific trigger thing (as in, not the usual triggers like loud noises, bright lights, etc.) that just really ruffle your proverbial feathers or stress you out potentially to the brink of meltdown?

    Sentences in this post that should not be taken literally:
    I don't literally drive up a wall when I'm disturbed by the misuse of a word.
    I don't literally hear the sound of nails on a chalkboard when a word is misused.
    My knee doesn't literally jerk/twitch when someone says, "I know, right?"
    No one on the forum actually has feathers that can literally be ruffled.

    (I hope this post doesn't offend anyone. The point of it mostly isn't to do with the word "literally"; rather, it's about how we as autistic people can become so intensely distressed by anything we perceive to be out of order. Books, language, and reading have always been my special interests, so anything that messes with them makes me go AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!)
     
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  2. Wolf Prince

    Wolf Prince My future job title.

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    Therotical Question. If someone tells you they stole your rat. And you dont own a rat. How should you respond?:D
     
  3. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    I’d ask how much the ransom is.
     
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  4. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    Did you literally do a post on this, no, dear Kalinychta, l am sure l am dreaming this up right now!! It will be gone in New York minute.
     
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  5. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    HAHAHAHA! I love it!
     
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  6. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Chaotic Neutral

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    Maybe it's because English is not my first language, but how do you do this "figuratively"?
     
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  7. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    Well, Aspychata’s post just made me laugh really hard. If I were to say that she cracks me up, I don’t mean that my body literally begins to crack apart. I mean that she makes me laugh i.e. I mean it figuratively/metaphorically.
     
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  8. grommet

    grommet Well-Known Member

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    I am so grateful you wrote this. I wish I could push the "Winner" button many times.

    This is exactly the same for me, everyday. It makes me feel crazy. I keep wanting to tell people that 'literally' means 'actually', it cannot be used for emphasis. And "I know, right?" makes me angrier and more upset than anything. It is an impossible sentence. What are they asking me? Are they telling me they agree with me or that it is correct that they already know this and they want me to confirm it? What the bloody hell are they talking about?

    Language is a beautiful thing and precision with it shows such respect but also is more effective. "I know, right?" is my trigger. I could listen all day to 'literally' being used incorrectly and still feel better than hearing that phrase once. I simply cannot stand it.

    It is wonderful to know there are others like me. All day I have to hold my tongue (metaphorically)
     
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  9. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    That's what we get for speaking English. A language that is void of modal particles. Words in other languages specifically used to emphasize and emote whatever is being discussed.

    Ironically the adverb "literally" is intended to mean something in an actual state without exaggeration. Perhaps the last word in English that should be used to emphasize and/or exaggerate much of anything. Go figure. :p

    Yet in colloquial speech it's used all the time. Much like double-negatives. Though for some, rules exist only so they can be broken. :oops:
     
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  10. grommet

    grommet Well-Known Member

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    Beautifully written, thank you.
     
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  11. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    Ha! I knew there had to be fellow sufferers out there! “I know, right?” has died down quite a bit in the U.S. Now they say “right???” instead. It makes me cringe right down to the tips of my toes.

    I love language. Most of my favorite books were written in the nineteenth century i.e. back when language was rich and robust. It just kills me to see it bastardized in any way.
     
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  12. Shamar

    Shamar Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    A story I heard once. An English professor was describing grammar. A negative modifier always makes a negative statement. A positive modifier always makes a positive statement. Two negatives can make a positive, but there is no situation in which two positives can make a negative. To which a student replied "Yeah, right!"
     
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  13. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Then you would go insane in Canada. Where many people end their sentences with (A) Eh? or Huh? Did you see that eh? Where are you going huh? What kind of dog is that huh? So, she did say that eh? What do you mean Huh?

    Or in French, where they use the same statements over and over: C'est pas vrai? Ç'est épouvantable! C'est pas bon? Bouge toi! I hear them daily. And it drives me nuts.
     
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  14. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    I had difficulty with things of this nature as a child and teenager, but I have since realized that it doesn't matter what other people say or do unless it tangibly effects me.

    Even though you said the thread isn't about it, it's a fun fact that people are not actually using "literally" incorrectly.

    "But people increasingly use “literally” to give extreme emphasis to a statement that cannot be true, as in: “My head literally exploded when I read Merriam-Webster, among others, is now sanctioning the use of literally to mean just the opposite.”

    Indeed, Ragan’s PR Daily reported last week that Webster, Macmillan Dictionary and Google have added this latter informal use of “literally” as part of the word’s official definition. The Cambridge Dictionary has also jumped on board."

    According to the dictionary, "literally" now also means "figuratively"
     
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  15. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    The one that gets me is 'kind of.' This is used wayyy too much and often inappropiately. It's kind of sad, funny, hard, etc. What does this even mean? Something is sad or it isn't sad, funny or it isn't funny. How can it be 'kind of' funny?
     
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  16. Raphael Outcast

    Raphael Outcast Active Member

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    Dimly I remember studying Linguistics at university, and dimly I recall a course or a module (or whatever) called Pragmatics, which was on the hinterland of Linguistics and almost into Philosophy. I think this thread is about Pragmatics, and yes, those of us on the Spectrum are liable to struggle with Pragmatics in real time, although ironically we might tend to be good at studying the subject itself, in the abstract!

    Maybe Google "Pragmatics" and see what you reckon?

    I do specifically recall one example from one Pragmatics lecture: "The conference trade has literally turned Brighton around." A few years later I had occasion to visit Brighton, and the town still appeared to be facing the same way as ever.

    There is a word for ending sentences with "Huh?" or "Right?" or "You know?" and suchlike. It happens in many languages, indicating there is some instinctive human need to do it. Among Neurotypicals, at least. But I've forgotten what the word is.

    I will plead kind of guilty to kind of over-using the phrase "kind of". The phrase "kind of" is a disclaimer, I think: it kind of implies you're not meaning to be too dogmatic, and it kind of apologises in advance if whatever you're about to say could come across as counterintuitive or offensive in any way, and it kind of forewarns that you may be about to use slightly the wrong word. So it kind of grants you immunity from anyone jumping down your throat. Looking back at the opening sentence in this paragraph, it can also kind of indicate you don't fully mean what you're saying: as in, I don't actually feel I am morally guilty in making copious use of the phrase "kind of", yet I appreciate there are those who are irritated by the ubiquity of the phrase, and so, to the extent it is not my wish to upset those people unnecessarily, I was accepting a measure of culpability with that sentence.

    Maybe I ought to hold back on the caffeine now, for a while.
     
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  17. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Pop culture drives so much in society these days. Why doesn't some person simply invent a modal particle for English rather than continue to profoundly misuse a word with a very specific- and contrary meaning?

    Besides, it might also prove an acceptable substitute for synonyms implying copulation. o_O

    Eh? LOL....maybe the Canadians are onto something. :p
     
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  18. Pats

    Pats Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    @Progster and @Kalinychta - uh oh. I'm guilty of both. I kinda use the word 'literally' literally every time I want someone to know I'm not speaking figuratively.
     
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  19. Pats

    Pats Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I love listening to the Canadians - also used in upper Michigan. I love the mooses on Brother Bear. But it's kinda like they want confirmation of agreeance maybe? When I lived in upper Michigan I seen a bumper sticker that I liked. Where Michigan had a bumper sticker that read "Say yes to Michigan", this bumper sticker said, "Say yah to da U P too, heh?"
     
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  20. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    That doesn’t make sense, though, if you think about it. If literally now also means figuratively, then “literally” cancels itself out. It means two opposing things, so therefore it means nothing. How would we know if a person is speaking literally or figuratively when they use the word “literally” e.g. if someone says that her head literally feels like it’s about to explode, the ambiguity of “literally” neutralizes all sense from the sentence: does she actually/literally feel like her head is about to explode, or is she just speaking figuratively and using hyperbole to make a point? Does she mean literally as in literally or literally as in figuratively? Should we smile or rush her to a hospital?

    If the word “fork” began to be misused to mean either a fork or a spoon, then the word “spoon” wouldn’t need to exist, and the new word “fork” wouldn’t make sense.

    “Would you like a fork?”
    “Yes.”
    “The fork that has prongs or the fork that has the oval at the end?”
    “The oval one.”

    If you want a fork, you ask for a fork. If you want a spoon, you ask for a spoon. You wouldn’t ask for a fork meaning a spoon. Likewise, you wouldn’t say literally if you meant figuratively—you’d just say figuratively (or you’d say nothing since figuratively is usually automatically implied).

    Two words that mean two different things can’t be combined without causing confusion and requiring disambiguation before it can be understood. I also think that widespread misuse should most of the time not be grounds for officially changing the meaning of a word. It encourages the degradation of language and screws up the etymological anatomy of words.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2019
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