For a buck, you can literally have my ear

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 8 2013 2:53 p.m. MDT

Which reminds me: To really own the word, you must pronounce it correctly to make it extra obnoxious. That means turning the word into three syllables instead of four, with a hard emphasis on the first syllable – LIT-ra-lee. Lowe has made it an art form.

Lowe’s character says things like, “That is LIT-ra-lee the best news I’ve heard all day.” “This is LIT-ra-lee the best thing I’ve ever eaten.” “Every time I cleanse I can LIT-ra-lee feel the toxins leaving my body.” “There’s LIT-ra-lee nothing in this world you cannot do.” “It is LIT-ra-lee the comfiest couch you’ve ever been on.” “You are LIT-ra-lee the meanest person I’ve ever met.” “That idea is LIT-ra-lee the greatest idea I’ve ever heard.”

Lowe told Vulture he is loath to use the word when he’s not playing the TV role — “I find myself going, ‘I’m telling you, that guy is li— … absolutely the worst person I’ve ever seen.’ I’ve tried to banish it from my personal vocabulary for a while,” he says.

It’s not always easy. When Vulture asked him about a character he is playing in a movie, Lowe said, “It’s not what you expect. It is lit— … did you see what I did there? Did you? I’ve developed a midlife stutter!”

Well, as usual, the pop culture wins. “Literally” is misused so frequently that Merriam-Webster and Oxford English dictionaries have added the erroneous second usage for the word and earlier this year Google search added it, as well. English teachers literally just threw up.

“I tend to be pretty liberal,” says Ostenson. “I’ve become tolerant of the bizarreness of grammar. Life is short. It takes too much time and energy to get bothered by these things.”

Oh, um, so forget the whole thing. Literally.

Doug Robinson's columns run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Email: drob@deseretnews.com

Get The Deseret News Everywhere