Monday, January 12, 2009

petty pet peeve

i notice this stuff. Peleg and I watched a movie last night. At one point there's a scene where the entire population of the city succumbs to a mass hysteria. They sleep it off in the village square, and then wake the next morning with a collective hangover. The voice-over in the movie then says that the people were so embarassed by what they had done that many of them:

"literally erased the event from their memory."

Mis-use of the word literally annoys me. Literally means actually, or truthfully, or in reality, but instead bad writers often use it in an attempt to add intensity to a cliched metaphor.

If the verb "erase" means the act of removing a physical mark then there's no way to literally erase a memory. If, you argue, "erase" should be understood more generally to refer to any act of obliterating what once existed then you could erase a memory but in that case the word "literally" would be redundant because every act of memory erasing would be literal.

1 comment:

Robin Edgar said...

Picky, picky, picky. . . ;-)