Published on April 1st, 2016 | by Ann Rickard0
Literally Food For Thought
Let’s get picky about words again.
It’s always a thorny subject, guaranteed to cause angst for anyone over the age of 45 who was taught right proper grammar in school.
“If something is literal, it is exactly that. It is exactly what it is.”
Those of us with right proper grammar become frustrated with people without right proper grammar.
Mostly we say nothing when we are subjected to bad grammar and lazy speech. We just clamp our lips together in a thin judgmental line and move on – although sometimes we tut-tut in the direction of the offender.
My pet hate at the moment is the overuse – and very wrong use – of the good word “literally”.
So many culprits could own up to this one, television and radio presenters among them, actually especially television and radio presenters.
“He literally burst out of his skin with shock.”
No, he did not. Who would want to bear witness to that? A skinned-alive bloke?
If something is literal, it is exactly that. It is exactly what it is.
“I literally exploded with laughter.”
I’ve heard this one many times (usually when I am holding court at dinner parties telling witty and entertaining stories to the entire table).
No, you did not explode before me. It would have been a messy dinner table had you done so, but there you are, sitting before me, beautifully intact, all your bits unbroken, not splattered colourfully all over the walls like a Jackson Pollock.
“She literally fell to pieces before my eyes.” Same as above. Very messy.
“His eyes literally popped out of his head.” Not something you’d want to see … a couple of eye sockets staring blindly at you.
We’ve all come across the “literally” wrongdoers. They lurk everywhere. Mostly we don’t take any notice of them, just pass their word crime off as manner of speech so many people carelessly adopt.
But it does irk me.
Ever since my children uttered their first word I have corrected their grammar.
And I have now encouraged them to do the same to their own children.
Clichés, bad grammar and the wrong use of words will always plague the word purist.
If only we still had the dear old Reader’s Digest with its “increase your world power” section still with us.
We’d all literally be better off.