Here's a handy hint: Whenever you read or hear someone using the word "literally," the odds are very good that they mean the exact opposite of "literally"--they mean "figuratively." For example, here, here, and here,
For years, this particular L-word, once entrusted as the bearer of an important and perfectly valid intellectual distinction, has been on a long, sad decline toward some final fate as an all-purpose intensifier, along with "major" and "totally."
There's even a blog devoted to charting its decline. How its author gets any other work done is a mystery to me.
As a service to all our English teachers from days gone by, that's going to be our theme for this week's toon review: Literally? or Figuratively?
The toons at Daryl Cagle's round-up run the figurative gamut this week: SCHIP, "nuke-Iran" fantasies, "relevance" fantasies, Halloween, Putin and Ahmadinejad as new BFF's, and the Democratic presidential candidate field (although, strangely enough, not so much on the Republican presidential candidate field, which is a good deal funnier.)
p3 Palme d'Or goes to M. e. Cohen for his analysis of where--figuratively--Bush gets the things he says in press conferences. (And yes, it's figurative, no matter how literal it might seem to many of us.)
Test yourselves on this gem from Cam Cardow: Is it literally true that politicians--especially Republicans--only decide that government action can be helpful when it's some narrow issue that brings tragedy or suffering to their own family? Or does it only seem to work that way?
Meanwhile, as Opus ponders this morning's central question, it's in relation to his own most personal matters--or is it? (Salon Premium; non-subscribers will have to sit through some ads first.)
Finally, Jesse Springer contemplates the fate (figurative, we hope) of those people who thought that Measure 37 was literally about sweet little gray-haired ladies who were only looking for financial security in their golden years:
"Figuratively" and "literally"--it's good to know the difference before the bulldozers arrive at your door.