graphically slaughtered

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Sat Mar 24 04:07:36 UTC 2012

>From _Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch_'s movie review of _The Hunger Games_, by
Frank Gabrenya:

"Although much of the book's violence has been sanitized for a PG-13 rating,
the combat scenes are too fast and blurry to tell who is slaughtering whom,
much less how graphically."

At first, I inferred from the wording that "graphic(ally)" simply means
"really violent(ly)" in Gabrenya's idiolect, given that he uses it to modify
a verb that doesn't have "show" or "describe" as part of its semantics (i.e.
"slaughter"), and in fact separates graphicness from how visible it is. With
Gabrenya's meaning, the fact that you can't tell much about the slaughtering
does not mean that the slaughter is not very graphic.

However, I Googled "graphically slaughtered" and got hits such as "Extended
sequences show Americans being graphically slaughtered in the natives'
counterattack." This is more interesting now. To graphically slaughter
someone means to do it in such a way that viewers of a recording of the
event get a really detailed look. Even though "graphically" syntactically
modifies "slaughtered", it has as much to do with how a camera crew captures
the event as how the slaughterer does the deed.

Neal Whitman
Email: nwhitman at

The American Dialect Society -

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