More and more, people say certain things that have a completely different meaning than what they honestly believe they mean. Or, to put it differently: people will use particular words or phrases in ways that make absolutely no sense, all the while believing such words or phrases are entirely appropriate and even necessary for what is said. Or worse, they believe such words or phrases are accurate reflections of what is truly the case.
For example, I cannot tell you how many times I hear people using the word, ‘actually’* and their use of that term makes zero sense in relation to what they are saying. In fact, more times than not, how they use the term winds up creating (interesting, and sometimes even humourous) confusion. Walking back from the bank just this morning, I overheard some eleventeen-year-old girl announce to her similar-looking-in-terms-of-clothing-and-hairdo-eleventeen-year-old friend, ‘I actually went over to his house . . .’ Well, genius, how else are you going to go over to his house? Metaphorically? Allegorically? Figuratively? Metaphysically? What?
Here’s another example, and this is one that prompted this posting. After returning from my lunch, I checked out YahooNews just to see what’s up in the world and came across this story. Here’s my rant. The article clearly states that the idiot boy in question escaped death just barely and walked away untouched; yet, the title of the article says, ‘Boy’s Near-Miss Playing Chicken With Train.’ I’m sorry, but a ‘near-miss’ means contact; a ‘near-miss’ would mean that the idiot kid would be a grease spot on the tracks; it doesn’t mean he walks away untouched! (1, 2, 3, 4, . . . okay, I’m better now).
It is because of stories like these, and uses of language such as those, that I have to console myself with this kind of advice. Okay, back to work.
* I have the same beef with how people (mis)use, ‘literally’. Go here for a great take on this.