Category Archives: Writing

A term to kill: Literally

He is literally this, she literally said that, this thing is literally X!

Please abandon the lazy abuse of the word “literally.” I hereby grant thee, Dear Reader, permission to bitchslap the next three people who misuse the term “literally” if you point them to this post. Make it a good one.

Consider the following (authentic) quote:

“I notice that the correlation between anti-feminist women and literally pro-Fascist women (see her T-shirt) remains strong.”

… as opposed to a figuratively pro-Fascist woman?

If one asserts something, we expect a literal meaning, not a figurative one, unless a metaphor or allegory is self-evident.

People seem to use the word literally as though it is supposed to be a shockingly effective emphasis for a point. One can see the wide-eyed, slack-jawed ignoramuses’ nodding, fuelled by the childishly shocked awe of something that they don’t fully understand: reality. “This mouse is dead! It is literally dead! Like, for true! Like, for really, really real! It’s literally, literally dead!

If speaking of what is, directly and unequivocally, is emphasis due to the fact that it is not figurative, what does that make the rest of your speech? How watered down must ones mind be?

See my next article entitled “Word slut: how the promiscuous abuse of words exposes you.”

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A Term to Kill: Lived experiences

“So and so ignored my lived experiences!”

As opposed to what? Dead experiences? One cannot have experiences unless one lives. Even the term “first-hand experience” seems silly. Until such time as one can occupy various vantage points, this term is nonsensical.

“This is my experience,” “I have had that experience,” “I have once experienced…,” etc.

Am I the only one to notice that internet jargon seems to be less than the sum of its parts, that it reaches below the common denominator?

It is time for us to drop this increasingly clownish jargon from our language.

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It’s a thing. Let’s kill it!

An article I was about to read starts with the following sentence:

Like it or not, the Women Against Feminism tumblr is a real thing in the world.

It’s a thing. A real thing! A really, true fact real thing. And it’s in the world, this thing.

“People are paying attention to argument X;” “More and more people are persuaded by argument X;” “Argument X is taken seriously;” “People are taking notice of issue Y;” “Many people are discussing issue X;” “Group W is attracting a lot of attention;” “The argument that X is Y is piquing people’s interests;” “More and more people are accepting the argument that F is no longer relevant.”

I hereby invoke the right to stab anyone in the face using a non-sterile ice-pick, should they use the phrase “It’s a thing.”

That, and “Just sayin’.”

It is giving me twitter PTSD.

Grrr.

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Crows speak to me.

I enjoyed a fraternal greeting with crows this morning; an earnest discussion of great import.

I had tossed out some peanuts for the squirrels, and a crow approached. I watched it for a while. It cocked it’s head at me and cawed.

I responded.

It cawed a three-caw pattern.

I repeated.

I threw a peanut at it. It looked it it, looked at me and hopped toward it.

I waited. Quietly. It approached, pecked, snapped it up then flew away.

I waited and cawed and the caws were echoed by three distant birds. We held unseen discourse for a few moments, and suddenly, drifting sideways above me were two crows, silent. Peanut sharks of the sky.

I cawed a three-caw. They responded.

I cawed a three-caw. They responded.

I cawed a three-caw. One responded with a series which I emulated. The first landed on a tree. We cawed at each other a few moments, as though we understood each other.

For each caw came a peanut.

I went back in and though the window I watched the feathered motorcycle club approach and feed on my peanuts.

What have I done?

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Children come to my door

Children come to my door
begging.

For cancer, for poverty.
All of it their own

Wee children with shiny eyes and bald heads,
kerchiefs testifying their truth.

“I’m your neighbour,” they say.
This is my sister, this is my father.

Will you buy my bauble? 5 dollars for the little one, 7 for the large.

Ugly pieces of who-knows-what hidden by dying, shiny eyes.

A count of coins,
a touch of finger tips,
a sad and sympathetic smile
and they’re on their way.

I wonder if I’ll see them again?

Fuck.

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New feature: Definition of the Moment

I read dictionaries. Avidly. They are my phlegmatic friends whose opinions I can trust, kindly teachers who tirelessly volunteer as mental spell-checkers. I estimate that a good 50% of my web searches are the search for definitions.

The value of a dictionary is found in that it permits a greater precision in thought. One can, using this magical instrument, cut complex thoughts down to one pithy word, or conversely, use it to see if our chosen term is in fact what we think it means to others; to see whether our bricks of logic are well used in the building a solid logical stage. Dictionaries, in their various forms are the Swiss Ginsu Knives of thought; they are multipurpose and can slice though mental steak, vegetables, tin cans or running shoes.

And who hasn’t had the need to slice, dice and chop though a mental running shoe?

My favourite dictionary is in fact, not a dictionary at all, but a feature common to most search engines:

define: <word or phrase>

(Let us also remember our friend the Thesaurus and the Online Etymological dictionary, a labour of love by David Harper.)

As of now, I’ll be adding terms that I often look up, or review when making arguments and tagging them with definition. Hopefully, this collection of words will help you clarify your own positions and arguments. Note that I add these definitions for my–and hopefully your own–convenience. They are not intended as commentary, or as a definitive unalterable sense. They are bite-sized bits of research, nothing more.

Understand that the best use of these tools are not to support chop-logic, but to have a deeper understanding of a given idea, and to help us clarify our thoughts. They are instruments used to help us to think and communicate with clarity, and thus are tools to aid us in creating a better world.

 

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