My head is literally going to explode if I don’t finish this column quickly.
If that last sentence bothered you, I commend you. Please, keep reading. If that first sentence didn’t bother you, shame on you. You must keep reading.
English, especially as abused in ‘Merica, is the foul, misbegotten child of civilization. But that is no excuse for misusing the barbaric remnants of culture we’ve been given.
Let’s start with “literally.” This is not a term of emphasis. Literally means “this is exactly how it happened.”
Incorrect: “My argument literally shut him up.” This means your argument, which is intangible, put a male in an elevated place and closed him in.
Correct: “I literally tore Tucker’s column to shreds.” Please don’t. At least not yet. I have a whole ‘nother problem to address.
It seems that we’ve coined “whole ‘nother” as the abbreviated version of “another.” If you pay attention, it’s not abbreviated at all. In fact, it’s longer. Of all the screwy lexemes in English, ‘nother is not one of them. ‘Nother is literally not part of the English language.
But you could care less about that, right?
Could you? Could you actually care less?
If so, somewhere deep inside your soul, there’s a concern for propriety. Personally, I could possibly care less about how my hair looks. But I choose not to because I care very much. One thing I could not care less about is our society’s newfound infatuation with mustaches, zombies and bacon. I have reached my ultimate level of unconcern for those subjects.
People often say “I could care less” when what they really mean is they couldn’t care less.
Speaking of mustaches, you rarely see those without the word “epic” lurking around somewhere. People even speak of “epic fails.”
Example: “I tripped in front of a cute girl today. Epic fail!”
Was it? Was it really epic? When you lost balance, I doubt anything heroic or legendary happened. You probably just stumbled for a second. Now compare that to conquering dragons and gorgons. You know, real epic stuff. And while you can fail an exam, you can’t have a fail, especially one that is epic. Face it. Face it with your face.
All of a sudden, I feel like nothing we say makes sense.
All of a sudden. All of a sudden. Say it one more time out loud. “All of a sudden.”
I’m not even going to address that one. It don’t make no sense.
Double negatives can be fun, and sometimes they aren’t not easy to understand. But usually they aren’t.
See what I mean?
My relatives often tell me they’ve seen 12 “head of elk” over in that field. Were the bodies there too? Or was it just the heads? Because if it’s a field of heads, I definitely want to see. If you mean there are 12 elk that are fully attached to their skulls, I’m interested, but I could care less about complete elk than a field of beheaded leftovers.
I have no idea where the term “head of elk” came from. Probably from the same group of miscreants who like to nip their problems in the butt. As playful as that sounds, I’m not sure it’s appropriate, neither figuratively or literally.
Irregardless, it seems we will continue to use improper or strange idioms until they become commonplace.
Please tell me you wanted to refudiate my use of the nonsensical word “irregardless.”
All right, time to nip this thing in the bud.
Here’s the bottom line: If you can get a point across, you are communicating. That’s the whole point of language. So even when we use fake words like “refudiate,” if our message can be understood, it counts. That doesn’t mean the misuse of words or the use of ludicrous locutions should be propagated. I encourage you to think twice about common phrases, because many are absurd or incorrect.
If you’re one of the stubborn ones, just hold your breath, because with enough widespread use, ‘nother will become a word.
If you go to Google and type “define: literally,” you will learn that word is now “used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling.”
This is why we should stop while we’re ahead, because what’s left of our language is being bludgeoned repeatedly by the club of indifference. But it seems many people couldn’t care less.
“All of a sudden.” That one still kills me. Literally.