I have an ambiguous title for today’s post because I am not really sure what I am asking about.
I was thinking about how language changes. There was an interview on NPR that focused on how many incorrect uses of language get so overused that they become accepted practice. In addition to the stereotype “literally” when you mean “figuratively” they also talked about using very extreme modifiers when you don’t really have such a strong feeling. For example, “incredibly delicious” implies that something is so tasty that it is beyond belief. If you describe 25% of what you eat that way, you must have a very limited imagination!! The problem with overusing our extreme modifiers is that when we really do mean something extreme, we have no words left to describe it accurately. If I describe most pizza as “incredibly delicious” then how do I communicate that I had a really really good pizza? “No really this time!! Literally!”
During the same interview, the host asked the audience to participate by asking question. She said that they could join in by calling, emailing, or “Tweeting at me.” The same interviewer used to say “Send me a Tweet.” This shift is extremely broad. Most people used to say “Send me a tweet” and now way “Tweet at me.” It doesn’t seem like a big enough difference to motivate an entire population of users to shift, but without a broad consensus it wouldn’t happen. So what gives?