Znex

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Location: Australia

Joined Dec 03, 2010 at 09:46PM EST


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Commented on The downside of living languages

Geez, it’s just a word. I was hoping that someone might actually chill down about the whole thing instead of accusing people who use it of stupidity and illiteracy.
Admittedly, the whole black people string was a bit out of the way, so I do apologise about that. That was wrong, and it didn’t really connect well. Again, I apologise for any and other inappropriate remarks I’ve made through here.
I just don’t like people who call other people stupid and illiterate for using words that people think should be used another way, which you have been doing all the way through here.

Aug 07, 2014 at 06:09PM EDT

Commented on The downside of living languages

I was just using black people as an example, since AAVE (African-American Vernacular English) is often stigmatised because of, compared with General American, its ungrammatical features (such as double negatives, distinction between “He going” and “He be going”, etc.). Since he characterised people who speak using any such ungrammatical features as ignorant illiterates, I drew the comparison since he could classify black people because of the way they speak under that. But I hardly think such features come from illiteracy, or imply illiteracy. I value such innovations.

I did say I was not going to argue anymore, but I will say that we still use very in that sense, like for example with “the very best runner”, but it is marginal.

Aug 07, 2014 at 08:11AM EDT

Commented on The downside of living languages

Wow, way to be prejudiced. You do know by your statements that you’re characterising black people by this, who often speak a dialect very different from the standard dialect. For your information, there are plenty of educated people who speak dialects different from the standard dialect and perhaps even considerably “wrong”. If English has been around for a thousand years and changed greatly since then, it’s not going to the dogs if a few people decide to use literally in a different sense to how we use it.

Anyway, I grow tired of arguing. If you want to believe what you believe, that’s fine with me.

Aug 06, 2014 at 05:05PM EDT

Commented on The downside of living languages

Perhaps, but I think most people would hardly phrase it as “It was so hot my house burnt down” unless they would making light of the matter or people were comparing how hot it was. I’d think people would be more devastated about the fact it burnt down, wouldn’t you? They’d talk more of the fire, not necessarily of the heat. So it would make more sense to me for them to say “A fire broke out and destroyed my home! :(” If they’re not making light of the matter, it hardly makes sense to interpret it as being literal fact, but rather metaphor. It’s like if someone says you’re beating a dead horse. You’re not actually, because we know if you were, you’d have to be pretty crazy. When we talk about a snowball effect, we’re not actually talking about a snowball, although you can extrapolate from the image the actual meaning.

But first off, there are plenty of words that have widely different meanings from what they originally did. For example, striking doesn’t mean to beat up, but it means to make a good impression on someone. Given such a meaning, we should have trouble when we say stuff like “His pose is really striking”. Does he have his fist in the air or something? Awful can mean great and awesome, but often rather means the exact opposite. Very means true, but when we say “That’s a very big elephant”, we don’t necessarily mean that’s simply a big elephant, but it’s bigger than most big elephants. Brilliant means bright and shiny, but we often use it to mean intelligent.

Aug 06, 2014 at 04:58PM EDT

Commented on The downside of living languages

Okay, this is the Old English translation of the Lord’s Prayer, using a variety of English that’s about 1000 years old.
“Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum;
Si þin nama gehalgod
to becume þin rice
gewurþe ðin willa
on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.
urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg
and forgyf us ure gyltas
swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum
and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge
ac alys us of yfele soþlice”

Here’s the modern English translation of the Lord’s Prayer:
“Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven
Give us today our daily bread
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from evil (…) Amen”
There’s clearly a whole bunch of things that are widely different to the English we speak today, besides the spelling. First off, word order is largely free. In the first line, “ure”, which is our “our” follows “Fæder”, whereas in the fourth-last line, “ure” precedes “gyltas”, which is the ancestor of our modern “guilt”. Secondly, there’s case throughout Old English, which now only exists with “I” vs. “me”, “he” vs. “him”, “she” vs. “her”. We have “ure”, “urum” “urne”, which all mean “our”, and you can see other examples of case through there with the "um"’s and the "an"’s. There’s a lot of “ge-” too, which survived in modern German. This all disappeared over the ages, but we’re not worse off because of it.

Aug 06, 2014 at 05:02AM EDT

Commented on The downside of living languages

You’re not going to remove that problem by removing literally. “It was so hot yesterday my house burned down” still has the exact same ambiguity. There’s heaps of ambiguity in English that’s only been distinguished through time by context in both lingual memory of English generally and memory of the literal context. That’s what the whole deal behind metaphors is: many people don’t have problems with them because they know it can’t have happened actually and there’s an established meaning of them.

Literally doesn’t remove any ambiguity because it doesn’t mean figuratively, but rather it intensifies verbs. “It was so hot yesterday my house literally burned down” amplifies the figurative sense, and so hot it was. The house can’t have actually burned down, that’s silly, and the people who say literally know that. However, what they’re saying is that it was so hot that the house might as well have burnt down. There is already a figurative context that they don’t need literally there for, but it intensifies the situation much like we use really or very for adjectives. That’s all there is to it.

And let me link you some Old English in the next comment to show you how much our language has been redefined already.

Aug 06, 2014 at 04:47AM EDT

Commented on The downside of living languages

My point is that these so-called “incorrect” usages have been around for ages. The English we speak is very different from even the English of Shakespeare, in both shape and form.

Our English is even more removed from the English of Beowulf, which was written more than 1000 years ago. That is English, but a very old form of English. We don’t speak or write anything like that, so are we wrong in how we speak? If I were to accept your argument, then it makes sense to say that our English is poor Old English. Poor grammar isn’t okay just because many people use it, after all.

But that’s silly. If you were to say that, then you might as well say Old English is poor Proto-Indo-European! Yes, let’s all go back to speaking a language 10000 years old because we’ve all been using poor grammar and pronunciation.

There is no such thing as poor or pure language. There, I said it. There is no such thing. The only distinction that should be made, if any, is understandable and not, and that’s highly subjective. In most cases, we can understand when literally is used, therefore I must suggest there is no need to complain about it. Languages have been changing for millennia, and they’re not about to stop just because we said.

The Greeks had an escalated situation of the supposed battle between “poor” and “pure” grammar throughout the past centuries. You can read about it all here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_language_question
(Sorry, this is a highly compressed argument.)

Aug 06, 2014 at 04:03AM EDT

Commented on The downside of living languages


In all seriousness, literally does not mean figuratively in common parlance, it is in fact being used as an intensifier. It’s actually gone through the exact same process that other words we use, such as really, truly and actually, have.

Let me show you by replacing literally in a phrase with one of these other intensifiers:
“The house was literally electrified; and it was only from witnessing the effects of her genius that he could guess to what a pitch theatrical excellence could be carried.” – Sir Walter Scott!
“The house was truly electrified; and it was only from witnessing the effects of her genius that he could guess to what a pitch theatrical excellence could be carried.”
“The house was actually electrified; and it was only from witnessing the effects of her genius that he could guess to what a pitch theatrical excellence could be carried.”

It ends up meaning the exact same thing, doesn’t it? In actual fact, the house wasn’t electrified, but we don’t dismiss truly and actually as being proper intensifiers, do we? We get the point here: the woman’s genius through theatrical performance had a profound effect on the audience. So why do we feel the need to dismiss literally? Come on, stop being so wordist.

Aug 05, 2014 at 05:43PM EDT

Commented on cc2.jpg

It looks like he’s on his back actually, so it’s prolly only his tail.

Jul 19, 2014 at 07:15AM EDT

Commented on bb3.jpg

“Hey Sonic, do you have the-”

Jul 18, 2014 at 07:40AM EDT

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