Tag Archives: literally

Where are you at? I mean, literally?

I taught Spanish for many years.  Some of my students were fascinated by the Royal Spanish Academy.   Composed of the best writers, grammarians and real academiaintellectuals, the group decides the rules of the language, if they changed or stay the same. They publish dictionaries and grammar texts containing  the correct grammar rules and word usage.  I have one, a very old one.  The reason is an effort to keep the language from changing too much so, centuries latr, literature can be read and undertood, so people distant from each other can still chat without a translator.

Americans  have a populist view of grammar and change the rules as we go.   Although I cringe when I hear, “Where’s it at?” or “Do you want to go with?”  I realize that’s just how we roll.

literally2We’ve even changed words to accomodate people who use them incorrectly.  For example:  literally.  Up until recently, literally meant truely or actually, as in:  I was literally holding my breath until he left.

However, over the past years, people have not understood this useage and began to say things like, “I literally turned blue from holding my breath.”    It seems to add emphasis.

So what did the publishers of dictionaries do?   They added the second meaning:  perceived as true.   So now we literally have a word that means the opposite of itself:  truely and not actually.  But that’s how we roll.

What words or uses drive you crazy?  Have you learned to accept change?