Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I'm lovin' it.™

These three simple words demonstrate a gigantic step in how humanity conceputalises its relationship to time. At usingenglish.com the English teachers are fighting over it - is it grammatical? Is loving a verb? Is it even possible to use "love" in the continuous tense?

The phrase is the title of a Justin Timberlake song, and has also been adopted, along with the Mr Timberlake as part of McDonalds new advertising campaign, although there have been detractors. McDonalds, bless em, have even trademarked the phrase "I'm lovin' it."

The question I've been asking myself if why? This phrase has gone way beyond the realms of pop song and advertising campaign. I keep hearing it everywhere. Dermot O'Leary said it all summer on Big Brother, in The Guardian I read it. People are saying things like "I'm loving your new outfit" instead of "I love your new outfit." What's going on? Where has it come from and why?

To get all academic, "I'm lovin it™" is an example of the present continuous. And I think it's a sign of the continuing informalisation of language. We're all living more in the present continuous than in the past or the future. I think this is demonstrated by things like the fact that mass mobile phone usage means that the need to make and stick to plans or meetings is now continually open to re-negotiation. Want to meet somewhere else for your date, or bring someone else along. Phone and tell them. Everything can happen instantaneously. Innovations like Tivo and Sky Plus have changed the way people watch television - we can pause Live TV, watch TV when and where we want. The need for planning (such as setting the video) is no longer necessary. Want something? Buy it now on hire purchase, on a credit card, on a loan. Why wait? As our society is becoming geared towards instant gratification of needs in the present, so our language is beginning to reflect this. "I'm lovin' it" means it's happening right now, and it's on-going. Are you lovin' it™ too?

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