Literally tearing my hair out

By Toby Manhire In The Internaut

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13th March, 2012 Leave a Comment

There is a distinct possibility that the frothingly delighted rages that some of us perform upon encountering a misuse of the word “literally” are not directly proportionate to the importance of such errors in the grander scheme.

But it’s a fair guess that the venn diagram of Listener readers and “literally” police has a bulging middle bit.

And so I commend to you the entertaining and erudite clip above from the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, in which Mark Forsyth, author of The Etymologicon, and comedian and self-appointed “literal tsar” Paul Parry talk to veteran host John Humphrys.

It all comes in the wake of a spledid example of the genre: deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s pronouncement that people on lower rates of tax are “literally in a different galaxy”.

If you can’t stop feasting on this sort of stuff, you should seek professional help, metaphorically, if necessarily. In the meantime, you can read extensive articles from a literally-obsessed British media: the BBC News Magazine, the Guardian, and the Telegraph.

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