Have you ever heard a phrase that you didn’t understand? Or, worse, a phrase that you thought you understood but that turned out to mean the opposite?
This may seem unlikely, but the fact is it’s fairly typical. The classic example is “literally,” which originally meant that something actually happened but now often means the opposite.
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In a hot minute has also changed in the same way.
Today, we’ll look at another phrase that follows this pattern, “what a time to lớn be alive.”
What is the meaning of the phrase “what a time khổng lồ be alive”?
The phrase “what a time to lớn be alive” can be used sincerely or ironically. Used sincerely, it means someone is amazed by a technological or social advance. Ironically, the phrase can be used to make fun of something they consider lớn be a ridiculous use of technology or a regressive social change.
The grammar of “what a time khổng lồ be alive”
At first glance, “what a time to lớn be alive” might seem to lớn be only half a sentence. (In grammatical terms, not a clause but a phrase.) Where is the subject? The object? There’s barely even a verb.
Grammatically speaking, this phrase has a dark secret: its awkward phrasing contains what is essentially a dummy subject.
That might make you more confused than you already are, but bear with us. We’ll soon unlock this grammar mystery.
In English, dummy subjects are things like “there” or “is” that stand in when a sentence would otherwise sound strange.
The standard example is “There’s a person outside khổng lồ see you.” Here, you could just as easily say “A person is outside lớn see you.”
In “what a time to be alive,” the word “what” fills a similar role. Essentially, this is the same as saying “what a time it is lớn be alive.”
Any time you see “what” used at the beginning of a sentence lượt thích this, it doesn’t just imply “it is.” The word also acts as an intensifier, suggesting that some chất lượng is extreme.
For example, “what a guy” really means “What a great guy he is.”
Now that we’ve tackled the tricky grammar of “what a time to be alive,” you probably already have a good idea of its meaning.
But wait! There’s more! Let’s take a look at the two ways this phrase can be used.
The original meaning of “what a time to be alive”
The oldest examples of “what a time to lớn be alive” date to the early 20th century, when Hugh Walpole wrote a book called The Young Enchanted.In that book, a character called Peter gets a job as a newspaper editor.
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Filled with excitement at the shape his life is taking, he looks out at the world, covered in sunlight & possibility, & says “What a time lớn be alive in!”
The use of this phrase today carries a similar meaning. In general, you can think of this phrase as meaning something lượt thích “Life is great và I’m so happy to be here.”
However, today it almost always refers to some kind of technological or social advance rather than just someone being filled with hope about their career prospects.
Someone witnessing life-changing giải pháp công nghệ for the first time or seeing something that they agree with socially & politically is more likely lớn use this than someone getting a promotion for knowing the meaning of competitive parity in strategic management.
Let’s look at some examples.
“Today, class, we’ll be splitting atoms with this portable accelerator.”“Splitting atoms? Holy cow, what a time khổng lồ be alive!”
“If you think about it, the internet is kind of insane. You can look up billions of pieces of information without even leaving your home.”“And these days, you can even vị it on a phone the kích thước of your hand. What a time to be alive!”
In this example, the second speaker expresses a similar kind of amazement at what the internet và cell phones let you do.
Ironic uses of “what a time lớn be alive”
To recap, the phrase “what a time khổng lồ be alive” originally meant something like “Wow, I’m so glad I’m alive to see this.”
However, over time the phrase has taken on an additional meaning which is the exact opposite.
In other words, you can also use the phrase “what a time khổng lồ be alive” khổng lồ express how much of a waste of time và resources something is.
This is usually used for giải pháp công nghệ that seems impressive but is really pointless.
The fact that this expression can mean two opposite things might seem confusing.
However, it’s pretty easy to lớn tell what meaning is intended
“Did you see that commercial? They’re selling a toaster that connects lớn your wi-fi và sends you a text message when your toast is burning.”“Burnt toast notifications… What a time lớn be alive.”
Wi-fi enabled toasters are a great example of unnecessarily complicated technology.
Does anybody really need that?
The second speaker in this example definitely thinks that the only real question here is whether lớn use cringy vs cringey.