Literally, really ….

I gave a paper at CAIS/ACSI in June in which I related some of the variability in tag clouds to cogntive scanning; in particular, to something called fictive scanning, in which a speaker tells a literal lie that has socially acceptable meaning.

I can never think of an example when someone asks me, and in my slides I have an example of “my teacher’s books keep getting longer” in which I show some books stretching in length.

So, last week, I was treated to a veritable festival of fictive scanning. My flight on US Airways was late (“NO,” you’re thinking, how could it have been!), four hours to be exact. The reason was because the airline screws around and screws around and doesn’t take its business seriously. The plane was four hours late arriving in Philadelphia, so we were four hours late departing, and four hours late arriving in Milwaukee.

When we got there it was snowing, in fact had been all day. First thing that happened was a chorus of idio … oh, I mean, fellow passengers, talking into their cell phones “We’re late because it’s snowing.” Well, friends, we weren’t late because of the snow. We were late because US Airways doesn’t take you seriously as a customer.

But be that as it may. The best was still to come.

“I just landed.”

Oh, now how many times have you said that? Did it hurt, did you scrape your butt on the runway? No, the fact is, the plane on which you are sitting just landed. But it got better.

“I’m literally right now taxiing to the gate.”

…..

I rest my case.

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Posted January 25, 2011 by lazykoblog in linguistics

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