"Words in papers, words in books
Words on tv, words for crooks
Words of comfort, words of peace
Words to make the fighting cease
Words to tell you what to do
Words are working hard for you
Eat your words but don't go hungry
Words have always nearly hung me
What are words worth?
What are words worth? - words
Words of nuance, words of skill
And words of romance are a thrill
Words are stupid, words are fun
Words can put you on the run"
Tom Tom Club, 1981.
Words can also make you want to cover your ears and sing la, la, la, I can't hear you! until the evil goes away.
One of the women I work with is a literalist. A user (and abuser) of that problematic little bastard child, the word literally. She uses it in almost every sentence. Or as she might say, she uses it in literally every sentence. She uses it to mean figuratively, almost, very, or any number of meanings except the true meaning - "in a literal manner, word for word".
Actually, I'm doing her a disservice. Her scatter shot use of the word means that every now and then she chances upon the correct usage. On those occasions I feel like telling her to go and buy a lottery ticket, because it's her lucky day.
I love language. Yes I believe in the rules, and yes I also think that language is a living and changing thing, and a tool that is sometimes most effective when wielded incorrectly. Sometimes. I make my own mistakes and I try not to be too big a pedant. Occasional slips are one thing, but beating a poor defenseless word to death is another thing entirely.
You know how everyone has their bugbear? Their line in the sand? (For some it's even blogworthy.)