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Why This East Village Bar Has A Ban On The Word 'Literally'

Jan 26, 2018
Originally published on January 26, 2018 7:34 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

OK, bear with us here for a minute. A linguist walks into a bar. He goes up to the bartender, and he says, would you literally throw me out of this bar for using the word literally?

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

(Laughter) Well, if the bartender is Trigger Smith, the owner of the Continental in Manhattan's East Village, he could say, look; I literally warned you because he literally has posted that warning on the front door of the bar this week. It reads in part...

SHAPIRO: Quote, "sorry, but if you say the word literally inside Continental, you have five minutes to finish your drink, and then you must leave."

TRIGGER SMITH: I had a dream, and it felt like a higher power was speaking to me, saying that it is your task to put an end to the over-usage of this word.

KELLY: Trigger Smith - he says he is just sick and tired of hearing it everywhere every day, hyperbolically speaking. And he thinks he knows why it's everywhere.

SMITH: Lots of words and expressions have caught on, but there's something about this word, literally, that - I think it feels good to say, like a mantra.

KELLY: Well, Smith is the one getting kicked out soon. The building has been sold. They're knocking it down. It's going to be replaced by an office building. In the meantime, Smith will continue to serve drinks and fight the overuse of the word he hates so much.

SMITH: Literally my new career. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.