Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Virtually Really Like Actually I Know Literally

Every once in a while, society develops a verbal tic.   In the '80's, like became a place holder for every thought that came after, and for all the non thought that also followed.   This year's variant of "Like" is literally.  

When a word becomes THE word, no one remembers the actual meaning of the word, because the actual meaning has been usurped by the new use.   Also, people using the word don't hear themselves using the word, it is muted from their mental memory, only other people use it.

I know because my daughter always tells me, she never uses the word she actually uses, though she'll use literally, literally four times in the course of a given conversation.  My lying ears tell me I'm hearing the word, even though it actually does not work as used.  

So what does literally mean?   It use to mean exact, precisely, truly.  Informally, it has become a means of stressing something as experienced, without being actually true.   So literally now means virtually, or kinda sorta, or ! but still also means actually, in truth, and precisely so.   Through repeated misuse, literally is literally both a synonym and antonym of itself.

Having explained the problem to my daughter, she didn't feel there was an actual problem and told me I really shouldn't like be so literal.      

1 comment:

Kevin J. Bartell said...

In my college days, one of my English professors announced a crusade to eliminate the word "like" from the English language. Many an airhead wilted under her stony gaze.

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