Monday, July 7, 2014

A third barrier to communication

Please stop saying "literally."

I am literally so glad to be going home!

I am literally pissed!

We have literally a ton of turkeys in the back.

I doubt we have 2,000 pounds of turkeys to sell, and I'm pretty sure being literally pissed would be more funny than dramatic.

Just like people's use of the word "word." You say something true, someone says "word."

"We should be able to get out early today."


I heard someone say it after he clocked out of work. He just punched out for the day, and said "word."

What? What does that mean? What's it refer to? I asked two people about that, and they couldn't tell me what it means, and yet they still use it. I don't get it.

This must be how my parents felt listening to the way my generation started talking. I suppose if someone asked me to explain why I say "cool" when I'm amazed or impressed, I couldn't say exactly what I mean. Their parents probably didn't get "swell" or "groovy" in the same way either.

But please stop using literally. It doesn't meant what you think it does. I like the begrudging acknowledgement in Apple's dictionary (which I think is Oxford):

In its standard use, literally means ‘in a literal sense, as opposed to a nonliteral or exaggerated sense’: I told him I never wanted to see him again, but I didn't expect him to take it literally. In recent years, an extended use of literally (and also literal) has become very common, where literally (or literal) is used deliberately in nonliteral contexts, for added effect: they bought the car and literally ran it into the ground. This use can lead to unintentional humorous effects ( we were literally killing ourselves laughing) and is not acceptable in formal English.

As you can see, it is literally unacceptable!

Please stop!