I drove home the other night and listened to a radio talk show (Q) where they discussed the usage of the word “literally”. Or, more specifically, they discussed the misuse of the word. Being a frequent user of this word, I was surprised to find out it irks people to hear the word in a sentence like “When I saw him walk in I was literally frozen to the spot”.
I use the word literally like I use the word totally. I obviously was not frozen like ice, unable to move until I melted like a Popsicle in the sun, rather I was so stunned I felt I couldn’t move. Using the word figuratively or symbolically to exaggerate my point. Effective, no?
But from the sounds of the radio program, I along with others who misuse the word, have been making people crazy with the misuse of the word. Who knew it drove people round the bend? It’s sort of funny really. It literally makes me pee my pants laughing. Oh those crazy linguistic sticklers.
I am a huge fan of Q Radio on CBC, and have massive crush on the host Jian Ghomeshi (who incidentally did not host this particular segment). I literally want to keep him in my pocket and pull him out anytime I want to be entertained. I love him not only because he engages listeners with his wit, intelligence and old school charm, but he features authors as a main staple of his broadcasts along with other controversial topics and colourful guests. How could a writer not love him? If you haven’t listened in yet, you should. You can go online and listen to past shows and catch up by clicking here.