Important Notice

Special captions are available for the humor-impaired.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

CNN Watch

A friend of mine recently pointed this out to me and now I, too, notice it all the time. When you watch CNN notice how many times the reporters (and I use that word loosely) use the word “literally” inappropriately. I’m not the sort of person who flies off the handle about these petty linguistic grievances because I’m far from fluent in English.

 One reporter said that downtown New Orleans was “literally a ghost town.” My God, as if the flooding wasn’t enough, now we have zombies roaming the streets. Another knucklehead said, “People were literally jumping out of second story windows.” While this is correct, it’s not really necessary and the guy really just wants to say the word. Same with this reporter: “The storm literally separated the man from his wife.” As opposed to the storm setting an emotional wedge between the couple?

 I watched CNN at the gym for about twenty minutes yesterday and I literally heard the word “literally” misused three times. I would guess that the reporters feel that the word makes them sound smart but all that it does is rob the sentence of all rhetorical strength. Literally doesn’t literally have to mean literally, but it just sounds like a word people with poor vocabularies use to try to impress, like people who use the word “plethora.”

What the hell? If we notice this linguistic laziness why hasn’t someone at CNN noticed it and sent out a memo declaring a moratorium on the word? Perhaps we could turn this into a drinking game where everyone does a shot when someone at CNN uses “literally” in a sentence.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you can't say something nice, say it here.