Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nitpicking: "Literally" 2

Okay, we've been here before, but Eric emailed me this Jerry Jones quote about Adam Jones: "He's literally on a high wire without a net."

And on "The Daily Show" tonight, conservative author Christopher Buckley said that after he publicly backed Obama, "quite literally, all hell broke loose."

And in the Obama piece, he writes about his editor, "As for Kathleen, she has to date received 12,000 (quite literally) foam-at-the-mouth hate-emails."

I can't decide if misusing "quite literally" is worse than misusing plain "literally", or not. Depends if you're speaking American English or English English:

Quite is used differently in English English and American English. American English tends to use the old meaning of 'absolutely, completely', whereas English English tends to use quite as a sort of begrudging 'fairly, adequately but...'.

There is a blog tracking misuse of "Literally", but they haven't posted since August.

(A Joe Biden speech - and may I say that Biden's prediction of an international crisis early in an Obama presidency was a huge gaffe, not because of any doubts that may be planted in voters' minds about Obama but because it confirms what a self-important windbag old Joe is. "Mark my words...Remember I said it standing here, if you don't remember anything else I said...I promise you it will occur. As a student of history and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee you it's going happen. I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate." The CNN report ends with: Biden appeared to forget Sunday night's fundraiser wasn't closed to reporters, saying, "I probably shouldn't have said all this because it dawned on me that the press is here." It's not too late to dump Biden and pick Marlee Matlin.)

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