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Old 08-25-2013, 01:14 PM   #1
terrie
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Default Literally Short

There were two interesting articles on language in The Washington Post's Outlook section on Sunday.

One on the use of "literally": "However persuasive the historical and linguistic justifications, there’s something uniquely absurd about using the one word that most clearly means “I am not making this up” when you are, in fact, making something up."

While the article is fun and interesting to read, what I am more interested in is copy editor and author Bill Walsh's books “Lapsing Into a Comma,” “The Elephants of Style” and “Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob without Being a Jerk.”


The second is a review by Carlos Lozada of Roy Peter Clark's "How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times". As I read the review, what came to mind was the Doonesbury cartoon (May 16, 1979) in which William Blake's poem "Night" is (partially) quoted:

"The sun descending in the west,
The evening star does shine;
The birds are silent in their nest.
And I must seek for mine.
The moon, like a flower
In heaven’s high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night."
(from “Night,” William Blake (1757-1827))



And then translated into "mellowspeak":

"Oh, wow, look at the moon"


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Old 08-25-2013, 01:30 PM   #2
Hugh Wyn Griffith
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The "Oh" is redundant ......

As for "I Could Care Less" I couldn't ....

I never understood why the "not" got dropped.

   
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:06 AM   #3
Steve Rindsberg
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>> And then translated into "mellowspeak":

>> "Oh, wow, look at the moon"

A bit wordy, don't you think?

"Dude, the *moon*"

   
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Old 08-26-2013, 12:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
steve: "Dude, the *moon*"
LOL!! That probably is better but I can still remember my reaction on first reading the cartoon...perhaps we've become even more succinct with the advent of Twitter??? '-}}

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Old 08-26-2013, 12:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
hugh: I never understood why the "not" got dropped.
It hasn't...if...the phrase is to make (its original) sense...

Terrie

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Old 08-28-2013, 05:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Quote:
hugh: I never understood why the "not" got dropped.

Terrie
It hasn't...if...the phrase is to make (its original) sense...
Here's a fascinating article on the dropped not, especially the ending reference to intonations and NY Yiddish ....

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-ico1.htm

   
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:17 AM   #7
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Excellent ... thanks, Hugh.

   
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
hugh: Here's a fascinating article on the dropped not, especially the ending reference to intonations and NY Yiddish
Interesting article...I've always thought the problem might be twofold. First, the contraction gets sort of slurred when spoken so it's not heard--without the contraction "I could not care less", the "not" is more prominently spoken and heard. Second, people not understanding what the phrase means/intends...'-}}

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Old 08-29-2013, 02:21 PM   #9
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I witnessed the change from "I couldn't care less" to "I could care less." I remember it happening when I was in Junior High, and I even remember trying to explain to my peers the difference in meaning. But to them it was just an expression and the actual meaning of the words was not important. Or to put it another way "They couldn't care less."

   
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Old 08-30-2013, 11:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew B. View Post
I witnessed the change from "I couldn't care less" to "I could care less." I remember it happening when I was in Junior High, and I even remember trying to explain to my peers the difference in meaning. But to them it was just an expression and the actual meaning of the words was not important. Or to put it another way "They couldn't care less."
That was my experience as well. Most of the kids at my school would not have written it that way, though; it was a verbal expression. I think that's frequently true when people use "good" instead of "well" also. A person might say, "You did good," or (ick) "Ya done good," but when writing would use, "You did well," or "Well done."

   
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