Literally, enough! And also, about those "many hats"....

Literally, enough! And also, about those "many hats"....

Literally: The Word is--Literally--Viral.

Literally. It is, literally, everywhere. It is infecting our natural speech, causing us to speak in a simpler, repetitive manner. Literally, not a single conversation, or even, literally, a sentence is uttered, without, literally, this word making its literal appearance. Literally. Litralalalalaaaalalee. Friends, we need a semantic cure.

The problem is adverbs. Why ad(d) to a verb, when you can pick a better verb?

Often, when we slap literally to a verb, we are trying to express that we are earnest, positive, or confident, as in "I literally told him, you can't tap your head and rub your tummy at the same time." What we mean is that we are trying to assure someone, as in "I assured him, you can tap your head...."

In short, "literally said or told" ~= "assured"

Other times, when we are going all literal, we are demanding, insisting, beseaching our listener. "I literally explained to him, Herman Cain is a randy opportunist." What we mean is "I insisted, Herman Cain--remember him!--is a randy opportunist."

 

While I am on this language tear, I'd like to knock down the "many hats" problem, as in "I wear many hats" when people are describing what they do. Aside from police, military and food service workers, who wears hats that denote their trade? The Dr. Seussian image of wearing one hat over another is silly.