or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I'd Like To Thank The Academy

To my astonishment, I've now been doing this for a whole year. 309 posts--that's practically a book! (Probably not a very good book, though.)


I wrote (in brief) a while back about the casual, obviously incorrect use of the word "literally", and I just found another example of why it's such an irritant. From Salon.com's gossip column, "The Fix":

Here are some other awards of our own: the best Oscar fashion photos, the best backstage report (including Philip Seymour Hoffman complaining, "I literally lost all control of my bowels up there" and a shellshocked Ang Lee) and, from good ole Salon, the best Oscar podcast and the single best Oscar highlight. There. Can we move on?

I can't. I know that speech isn't the same as writing, that speech is more casual and that people say things they mightn't if they had a little more time to consider them. (Despite the best intentions, "irregardless" can slip out--well, not out of my mouth, of course, because then I would have to bite my tongue completely off.) But this is what happens when substandard usage is defended and popularized. Did Philip Seymour Hoffman truly, actually, really soil himself up on stage during the Oscars? Almost certainly not--I hope not!--but since he went and used the word "literally", and since he may or may not have meant the word literally, we have no way of knowing. Not that I'd really want to know, of course, but if we dilute and therefore destroy the meaning of that useful word, then we've lost a valuable tool for discriminating between the actual and the metaphorical.


And while I'm at it, the "backstage report" mentioned in the Salon.com paragraph above is here, somewhere, and one of the photos in a slideshow on the same website contains the baffling caption "Jennifer Garner not only caught herself from tripping on her dress but geniously quipped, 'I do my own stunts.'"

"Geniously"? What the hell is that supposed to be? "Ingeniously"? "Ingenuously"?

No, I think they mean to say, "She thought up a clever comeback all by her own little self! Without a Hollywood screenwriter or anything!"


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