Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Literal Day

At my place of work, we are going to declare a “literal day,” in which all words, phrases, and expressions are to be taken literally. Within reason, of course—if somebody uses the phrase “I’ll kill you!” as a colloquialism, we certainly wouldn’t want them to make it literal in adherence with the policies of the day. So, everything is to be taken literally except that which would break any law or cause any unjust harm.

This means phrases like “Just a second” would frailly collapse. People would have to think very carefully about everything they utter. Yes, it’s incredibly pretentious and quite possibly biased against the inarticulate, but it will force people to use the linguistic portion of their brains much more than they usually do. And it’s only for a day, too. I would certainly be against a perpetuation of this kind of thing.

I’m actually very fond of figurative language. But too much of it has evolved to become commonplace and immediately accepted by default in our everyday language. Hopefully people will learn about their language and themselves during Literal Day, and quite possibly mention the idea to those around them. If Literal Day spreads, it could become a national celebration like April Fool’s Day. But while the fun and mocking nature of April Fool’s Day would be transferred, Literal Day would actually carry a larger function. It might get people to more accurately and more thoughtfully address the words in their heads before they come out of their mouths.


  1. this reminds me of Rush Limbaugh. He always claims to live in "literalville" in which he takes everything literally. It's quite a good argument when someone says they were "obviously joking" to try and get out of a situation in which they either forgot to do or failed to do something. great idea!

    reminds me of when we used to do opposite day at my house. girl, wasn't that easy. (boy, was that hard - get it?)

  2. Oh wow that is neat. I'll be checking back soon!