After decades of rampant abuse, Americans have totally depleted the U.S. supply of superlatives, according to findings from a recent study.
The study, which was conducted by Stanford University’s Center for Languages, shows that adverbs and adjectives in the superlative form no longer convey any real meaning.
“Americans are, to be perfectly honest, the absolute best at expressing enthusiasm,” the report says. “However, they are really the worst when it comes to moderation. Because Americans have used, overused and abused superlatives as if they were the best thing ever, these vital forms have been rendered thoroughly vacant.”
Sara Ricardi, the sociolinguist who led the study, said it’s a shame that action was not taken sooner to avert this complete loss.
“Preventing this disaster would have been the easiest thing ever,” Riccardi said. “We should have been teaching children to use the superlative form sparingly, say, once a week at most. We should have been telling them, look, if you say ‘Gravity’ is the most amazing movie in the world, then you have to mean it — that it is, quite literally, number one.”
“But look at us,” Ricardi said. “Now our superlatives are a hundred-percent bankrupt. Now I can’t even say last night’s waiter was the ‘worst waiter in the world,’ even if he really was voted the worst waiter in the world. Everyone will just assume I’m saying he was not very good.”
“We’ve totally failed future generations,” Ricardi said. “They will never know there was once a difference between ‘good’ and ‘the best.’”
A few language experts are appealing for calm, citing studies that show Americans have already begun stacking adjectives on top of each other to replace the superlative form — saying “the absolutely most totally super richest person” to mean “the richest person.”