Warning to Fox, 66, luv, Bruingirl, Mexi, and other practitioners of the English language: This post contains perverted grammar. And, you should also know that the world is ending.
Some of you may have pet language abuses that set you off. Things that people say that set your teeth to grinding, your stomach to growling, your temperature to rising. Apostrophes where they don't belong. Apostrophes where they should be, but aren't. The use of the preposition "of" to mean the verb "have."
Well, I do, too, and right at the top of my list is misuse of the word "literally." You hear it a lot, even among professional talkers, such as news and sports commentators. "Wolfsplat hit Busby so hard, he literally exploded!" "The conviction means that Pinchpenny could remain in prison, literally, forever."
I’m not sure why (I wasn’t an English major), but such abuse of a precious, unique word, so full of meaning, makes my head explode, though not literally. Sometimes, it amuses me. More often, it rankles. Hey, you’re a pro. You ought to know better.
Well, as I mentioned, the world is ending. The trusted keepers of the English Language dictionary have, shudder-spasm-puke, decided that the word "literally" no longer has to mean "literally." They say,
"’Literally’ is used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling."
And, it’s not just Google or Facebook or Twitter. It’s Merriam-Webster and Cambridge, too, fer cryingoutloud!
Aarrgghh!!!!! And, I mean that in the truly anguished citizen way, not in the playful, marauding pirate way. I mean, there are, literally, dozens of words that can be used for emphasis or to express strong feelings. But, there’s only one "literally." Why does this wonderful, singular word have to get bastardized and corrupted, just because a bunch of nimrods don’t know it’s true meaning? Do we also have to change the meaning of "literal" in computer programming to mean "any string of characters of imprecise value"? For that matter, why can’t we take one of their words, used for emphasis or to express strong feelings, and turn it around to mean its opposite? From now on, "extremely" means "very little" or "hardly at all." So there.
And, while we're at it, it wasn't long ago that we used the word "figuratively" to distinguish between issues of emphasis and literal truth. So, we have not only perverted the meaning of one perfectly good word, we have rendered another obsolete.
A living language is one thing, but a Frankenstein language is simply wrong. I’d like to teleport the lexicographers' misguided hides straight to third-grade English. Literally.