As my friends will attest, I have a tendency to sound off like a bargain basement Lynne Truss (she of “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” fame) and I have an inkling that this blog will eventually disintegrate into a platform from which I can bemoan the death of the English language.
My current obsession is the omnipresence of “literally”. It's reached the point that I find myself skidding away from using it, even when 'literally' is, er, literally the most logical choice.
My mornings are already occupied with playing my favourite game which I call, with mind-boggling originality, the Literally Game. It's easy to learn the rules and it's suitable for one or more players. Just tune in to the news channel of your choice, whether it's Radio 4 or Sky News and count the times that it appears in any half hour period. It's one point for a 'literally' that is redundant (i.e. merely used for emphasis) and two points if the offender has used it erroneously (that is, when it is used in a figurative sense). There are some wonderful examples of the latter: “I am literally DYING for a cup of tea” and “I was so happy – I was literally over the moon” are two of my favourites.
I have been reprimanded by some fabulously misguided people who have claimed that this situation has been instigated by immigrants, for whom English is often a second, third or even fourth language, but this is obvious nonsense. If I want to hear English spoken well I'll ask an Indian or African friend. Now they speak PROPER English.
It's the locals who don't know their literal arse from their figurative elbow.