On NPR this morning in a debate over the debt ceiling, I heard a contributor say that the Republican Party is sufficiently ideological to “literally drive the country off a cliff.” Literally.
Is it time to give up the fight over the word literally? Joe Biden, of course, is famous for doing the same violence to the English language.
But that’s Joe Biden. This is NPR — a network that prides itself on high culture, that broadcasts Chopin, and radio drama, and breathless reports like “Are We Overusing Adjectives?” I feel a bit like LBJ this morning. “If I’ve lost the hoity toity radio hosts, I’ve lost middle America.”
Literally is just one of the things, like the subjunctive, that I find hard to let go. But is it time to concede the battle? Or is this pet peeve just a fashionable cause with no bearing in the language itself? What say you?