By Kevin Alan Lamb
- In a literal manner or sense; exactly: “the driver took it literally when asked to go straight over the traffic circle”.
- Used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling.
Americans brutalize the English language. It has never been more apparent than with the overuse of “literally.” I get it, you understand what it means: you probably still misuse it 40% of the time. Adverbs are (generally) fluff: crutches people use to stall or sound more intelligent. Newsflash, ya’ dont! People say literally without even knowing it: it is absurd. For an example, I will compare it to “like,” but so profoundly worse for this reason: like is a speech impediment, or crutch people use when they are nervous, or trying to buy time to gather their thoughts, often without even noticing: literally however, is intentionally used to enhance speech, thus, in an effort to sound more intelligent, you sound more stupid. But at least you’re not alone?
“I’m literally, so happy right now.” vs “I’m so happy right now.”
Accept that if I am saying something, I probably mean it literally, since I am not in the habit of speaking, figuratively. I may write figuratively, but that’s obvious. Words are signifiers. Communication is used to deliver a message. Why wouldn’t you mean what you are saying, literally?
Crutches are something we depend on, like cliches: “it is what it is,” is another example of a crutch that conveys a sense of idiocy and willingness to be herded like sheep (very dissimilar to Lambs.)
I have met a number of individuals that overuse literally to the point that they don’t even notice themselves saying it, literally. Crutches, or abused patterns of speech prevent individuals from evolving their diction, and application. Do the world a favor and keep a tab of your literallys in a day. You will be shocked. Walk around and listen to other’s speaking: I guarantee you will hear it.
This is one of my many issues with failing interpersonal communication due to technology: text, email, facebook, and most relevantly, laziness have mouth raped English with the prevalence of toddler like speech. Evolve or die. Communication is key. Try some new words.
The notice is out: people will start to think you are stupid for using the word literally.
Death to literally.
Photo Credit to Eric Hampton