I am going to purchase a gun, an antique lady like pistol, load it, pen an epistle of sincerest good byes, point the pistol at my face and pull the trigger. Bam. I will be the first woman ever literally killed by poor grammar.
But wait! I don’t have to die that way, because Webster’s Dictionary has added a new definition of the word literally.
Now, instead of only meaning actually, it can be used to emphasize a point. “I literally had a cow!”
Thank God! It can be officially used the way it’s been unofficially abused for some years now.
Unlike other bibliophiles (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bibliophile, in case that’s too archaic a word to use in our super awesome modern world,) I am not taking Webster’s to task for adding this new definition. After all, it is their job to reflect culture as it evolves through language and if they didn’t do that job, we’d all be looking up the definition of “thee” and “thou”, whilst using “you” and “me.”
My problem is, not the new definition, but the sustained and unrelenting repetition of this word by every single person with whom I speak.
Okay, not everyone. But it feels like everyone. Like literally every man, woman and child on this big blue marble are shouting out with one choral voice, “literally.” Which couldn’t possibly be true because as I understand it, a great percentage of the world doesn’t even speak English.
Am I being overly sensitive?
No. Just moments ago, I had a conversation with un-named individual peppered with this hideous word. He (or she, I vow never to reveal their identity) used it so many times, I started seeing spots floating in front of my eyeballs. To hang on to whatever modicum of sanity I had left, I kept a polite expression on my face, stopped listening to the subject of this inane babble, and began counting literallys.
First count, five literallys to 10 words. For you math lovers out there, that’s 50/50. Literally half of the words in this persons sentence were the word literally.
Webster’s does clarify that this new definition, though official, is still considered bad grammar in polite circles. So I guess it’s only okay to use if you’re out at ‘da club or while “sexting,” another word that has been added to this scholarly tome.
Whatever. Or more properly, what-ever.
Despite what this rant might convey, the way language changes with time is pretty fascinating, and I’m totes okay with people playing around with words and definitions.
But for the love of God, speak consciously.
When one word begins taking up half of your air time, it’s time to find a new definition of communication.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
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