So why has literally taken off like wildfire literally everywhere in the English speaking world? I think I'm on to something.
I haven't noticed any increase in use of the adverb. Its almost-always incorrect usage
has long been annoying to me. Its misuse seems ridiculously high among talk-radio hosts
and sports announcers
, e.g. [*
• "Trump was literally
on fire for his campaign speech last night!"
• "Hillary was literally
dead after her last campaign stop yesterday."
• "The winning touchdown pass was literally
• "The tight end literally
killed the safety on that touchdown play!"
One might think they, of all people, would eventually learn
its correct usage
, because it's a professional issue
of developing specific on-the-air skills: Saying what they mean, and meaning literally
) what they say. But long ago, I conditioned my brain to detect the error then quickly stifle my exasperation, and resume listening.
I think for so many people, the word means, "Really, actually, come on, I mean it, I'm not joking, it's true, true for everyone, objectively true" all at once.
I disagree completely
. My conclusion, reached many years ago, is that the typical misuser believes that "literally
" means "in literary wording
", which the speaker (or writer) does understand to be contrary to objective
reality. So to its typical misuser, the subject word mistakenly means means "figuratively
", and typically "metaphorically
It's really an example of the increasing ignorance
, by native speakers of English, of their own mother tongue
[†]. Given that vanishingly few people in the U.S.A. take classes in Latin nowadays, the typical misuser would never have encountered "littera, -ae"
(f.) as meaning a "letter
of the alphabet
" (e.g., per
Cicero). I'd hoped to find a derivative adverb nearly identical to "litteralis,
, meaning "word-by-word", but that word is not attested until Late Latin. The same meaning is provided for Classical Latin by the 2nd of 3 attested meanings for "litterātē"
(English kept more-or-less only its 3rd meaning, which is translated as "learnedly"; the 1st meaning is translated as "legibly", in the sense of writing in well-formed letters).
: Ad hoc
simulated quotes. That confessed, I'd be really surprised if CathInfo
readers who listen to radio or t.v. (especially those who indulge themselves with worldly coverage of specific sports) haven't heard nearly identical words from the mouths of radio hosts or sports announcers.
Note ‡: But wait! Traditio
Network insists that there are no more genuinely Catholic colleges (or universities) left in the U.S.A., so whose team could possibly have qualified nowadays to have been granted such a miracle?
Note †: Thus seemingly an excellent candidate for <https://www.cathinfo.com/fighting-errors-in-the-modern-world/
>, altho' it's certainly the pre
rogative of the owner-moderator to disagree.