Sunday, June 03, 2007

Words that make me cringe, part 9

Literal and also literally

Because they don't usually get used accurately.

Frequently heard: The air conditioning was turned up so high, I literally froze to death ...[but lived to tell the tale].

I also think literal is used to describe a bible translation if it is awkward-sounding, or merely because it is not the NIV or TNIV. But every rendering of the bible into another language almost always involves changing the word order, and putting the text into the idioms and syntax of the new language.

The result always sounds different from the original, even Young's Literal Translation [which sounds almost nothing like English].

People say they interpret the bible literally, but sometimes this means that they think we can bypass interpretation and restate what the Scriptures say in its own words.

And literal is used sometimes by preachers to stupefy thir congregations with their brilliance. In my experience, so often what is said is misleading, and often completely wrong.

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