grammar police: celebrity edition

Laurel, nonerstwhile friend and fellow grammar-obsessive, has brought this site to my attention. It's a blog devoted to hatin' on the use of "literally" as an intensifier, singling out amusing mental-image generators such as "Kurdistan is literally exploding with confidence."

Here's the thing (because there is always a thing): I don't actually mind "literally" being used in a, well, nonliteral sense. It bugs me a teensy bit, but we use words like "really," "truly," and "actually" in nonliteral ways all the time, and no one seems to think twice about it.

I mean yes, I mourn the loss of precision in language. What word can I use to indicate that I mean what it is that I'm describing in a nonfigurative sense? I suppose I could say this is for real, in reality, not metaphorically happening. Still, while this is a linguistic irk, it's not a real cause for concern.

What is a real cause for concern: the issue of In Touch Weekly that I was reading over the shoulder of the lady next to me on the subway this morning had a picture of Kid Rock* wearing a t-shirt that throws out a big ol' fuck-you to proper apostrophe usage. I can't seem to find it online anywhere, so you will have to mentally imagine this being worn on the person of a stringy-haired dude in a porkpie hat who somehow managed to land Pamela Anderson:

bro's before ho's

I swear, the church of When In Doubt, Add An Apostrophe is growing faster than Scientology. I am not happy about this, Kid. I am angry. I am literally fuming. No, literally. There is actual steam rising from my ears. Literally.

Anyway, for his transgressions, I am fining Mr. Rock:
one (1) session of washing his hair
one (1) session of shaving his oddly early-pubescent-looking facial hair COMPLETELY off
seventeen (17) sessions of being smacked over the head with an apostrophe-shaped piece of wood.

*apropos of very little, i would like to pass along some advice to any of you wannabe celebrities out there. Please, for the love of god, do not refer to your age - or to any sort of relative oldness - in your self-appended stage name. Sonic Youth, you are all now in your late 40s, and are by no means Youthful. Kid Rock, you are not a Kid (nor, technically speaking, do you Rock). And for that matter, Debbie Harry, if people conflate you with your band - which is named Blondie - you should probably not dye your hair dark red. Let's use some forethought, people.


Eric P said...

bro's before ho's

brothers before whores.

the apostrophe in this instance signifies the removal of letters.

helen said...

i suppose i'd be okay with that if bro were spelled bro' and ho were spelled 'ho'.

which, you know, they're not. so, not buying it.

Eric P said...

it's my understanding that in the case of abreviated words like ho' where more than one sets of letters are removed on both sides of the remnant letters, that in that instance you may place the apostrophe in whichever side you so desire, but are not required to place it on both sides.

For instance, the slang abbreviation of because to cuz. It's 'cuz not 'cuz'.

I think you're going to have to allow kid rock to slide on this one.

helen said...

"cuz" isn't analogous, because it contains a phonetic respelling as well as a dropped syllable. unless you live in a weird universe where you spell the original word "becuzze"? in which case, that is a weird freaking universe.

i will never let kid rock slide. NEVER. i have not yet begun to fight.

Eric P, still said...

i'm having difficulty in which i can recall an actual case, i knew that was grasping at straws but i went for it anyway hoping that you would see that which i was trying to say.

helen said...

okay fine yes i love you for who you are.

Eric P (who is not long for this world) said...

oh my god

did i stumble onto my mom's blog?

laurel said...

you know, I just realized that when you take its etymology into account the word "literal" is itself a figurative usage: "the letter of the law" doesn't TRULY refer to the actual LETTERS, it's a figure of speech (metonymy? synecdoche? can never remember which) equating the written word as object with the linguistic content of the written word as information. I could go on a tangent about the codification of the written word as "official" in the 13th century, but let's leave that for another day. how delightfully paradoxical.

Anonymous said...

on a completely unrelated note, I thought of you today when I saw a sign for a "pre-fix" lunch in midtown today.

ah, les americains...

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