Those of you with whom I am friends on Facebook already know how outraged I am about this article in Salon: “According to the dictionary, ‘literally’ now also means ‘figuratively.'” But I’m in enough of a tizzy that a Facebook rant isn’t nearly sufficient to convey the anger–nay, rage–I feel at this travesty, this desecration of the English language.
First they (those nameless “they” who ruin everything) took away “peruse.” It originally meant “to read closely, carefully.” But people used it to mean “scan,” which, I might add, is actually the opposite meaning. And my dearly beloved Merriam-Webster caved, and the two meanings live side by side. Really. I’ll wait here while you look it up.
And now “literally.” They are messing with my literally. The next to go will be nonplussed, mark my words, because that world has become completely meaningless as people misuse it all the freakin’ time. You probably misuse it. Yes, you! (Unless of course you are my father or you’ve heard me rant about it in person.) “Nonplussed” means “to be perplexed” or “baffled.” People tend to use it to mean “unfazed,” which is, of course, again the exact opposite. If you use nonplussed with me, I will stop you to determine what you mean. Because it won’t be clear.
Oh, and don’t give me any crap about “the evolution of language” and blah blah blah. Evolution is for apes. Th English language is the English language!
After I ranted on Facebook, I realized the article is a year old, which I can only assume was a mass conspiracy on my family’s part to insure harmony in the home. Is it a coincidence that this article was shared with me while my kids are at camp and I’m on an Acela, hurtling away at high speed from my husband, who is deluded if he thinks I’m going to calm down before I return home to him? The jig is up, people! I’m ready to go postal on the dictionary. And, no, I don’t mean that literally.