Pure Pedantry

When Readers Comment (1/7/08)

In my post ranting about the Iowa caucuses, I unintentionally set off an argument about whether “I could care less” is fine or whether you should say “I couldn’t care less.”

vavatch had this to say:

There’s nothing wrong with “could care less”. Just imagine it being said in a sarcastic fashion, it makes perfect sense. Language changes and evolves, there’s no point getting angry about it being supposedly “incorrect” even though in this case it isn’t remotely incorrect.

The original post should have “could care less” restored and not give in so easily to priggish prescriptivist bullies!

To which jtdub responded:

Please. Descriptive linguistics is, literally, killing me.

See? Descriptive linguistics erodes original meanings (e.g. literally) to the point of absurdity. And if you honestly think that people are using these words and phrases in an ironic fashion to express their true feelings, I have a bridge you may be interested in. People are, by and large, idiots who parrot words that sounds good to them, and only approximate the meaning from the context.


While I hadn’t anticipated starting an argument about linguistics, I am amused to death by people taking my Friday rant as an opportunity to rant about anything they want. And I mean that literally. I am literally amused to death.


  1. #1 Karl
    January 7, 2008

    I suppose that you meant that (literally amused to death) in a sardonic way. Otherwise it is an obituary.
    There is a tennis commentator who used to use “literally” all the time. He would say, after a very exciting point, the crowd literally exploded. Apparently someone finally explained to him the meaning of the word, because since then he has been very careful to use “virtually” instead.

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