'Ff'lo (fflo) wrote,

possibly annoying kvetch

Quoth Senator Mitch McConnell (Republican, Kentucky): "This is a dangerous piece of legislation. It is constitutionally dubious, and it would authorize a scattered band of United States Senators to literally tie the hands of the Commander-in-Chief at a moment of decisive importance in the fight against terrorism in Iraq."

There are plenty of jokes one could make about the scattered Senators roping Dubya. And, yes, I know I'm a prescriptivist jerk caring about "literally." But, in addition to there being no other single word (I know of) that does what "literally" does for us (so we'll be hurting if we lose it) (sure, only a tiny bit, but some! right?), there's a factor in this kind of misuse of it that pushes hot water up to the inside of my ears & pressures it to come steaming out: this particular misuse is using the word to mean the exact opposite of what it means. Senator McConnell means figuratively. You know? But "figuratively" doesn't seem to provide emphasis, I guess, which is what's really desired. In fact it probably seems wimpy, admitting openly to ("mere") figures of speech. So being not fully literate but good'n'emphatic is better, at least in tough-guy politics.

I know, I know. The word's been on its way to meaning "really really" for quite a while, and I might as well get used to it.

Sometimes the unintended meaning is kinda fun, at least. Like in this example. Or when the radio announcer, years ago, said a certain pitcher, having recovered from elbow surgery, "literally came back from the dead to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals."

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