Hopefully, literally, begs the question: the three most annoying misuses in English

26 May 2014, 6.12am AEST
Baden Eunson
Adjunct Lecturer, School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University

Baden Eunson does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
Provides funding as a Founding Partner of The Conversation.
Winston Churchill had no problem ending his sentences with prepositions.
Atrocities in English are committed every day. Here are three of the worst. You may be surprised, but hopefully you won’t literally explode with anger. Continue reading

The pedants revolt: lament for a golden age of grammar that never existed

A rose by any other name: Shakespeare was quite happy to sign his name Shakspere or Shakspeare
The great grammarian Otto Jespersen, writing in 1909, said English grammar was “not a set of stiff dogmatic precepts, according to which some things are correct and others absolutely wrong”; but was living and developing, “founded on the past” but preparing the way for the future, “something that is not always consistent or perfect, but progressing and perfectible – in one word, human”. Continue reading

The dictionary allows an infuriating misuse of language

The dictionary allows an infuriating misuse of language, writes Christopher Howse. The Daily Telegraph

They are running short of onions in Bihar, the Indian state justly famed for the quality of its alliaceous ‘‘ I used to buy three kilograms of onion for a week,’’ a housewife told The Times of India, ‘‘ but now I have cut down to one kilogram because the price has almost tripled’’ . And how did the paper headline this news? ‘‘ Skyrocketing onion prices bring tears, literally!’’

An exclamation mark or screamer is generally a sign that the little joke being made is not one that the author is terribly confident will be spotted by the reader. But what of the literally? Continue reading