7 May 2007

pet shop boys, actually/freddie mercury, literally?

Literally - this is the most mysterious English word for me so far. I have noticed quite a while ago that many English people use it quite often. However, I still can't understand the exact meaning, though I've already tried to use it in this blog a couple of times. It seems for me it is mainly used among middle class English people.

Last Friday, when I went out for a drink, I asked about the word to my best English friend NY. But... I couldn't believe what he said:

"I don't really know."

What!? You are the one, who speaks the word to me many times, aren't you?

Though he wasn't totally sure how the word is used, he told me that it is basically a connecting word and doesn't have a particular meaning, and is often used for emphasising the meaning of a sentence. But he also told me that the word is normally used to get back into the original meaning of the sentence, as English has a lot of phrases which have particular meanings. In other words, 'literally' is used when a sentence means as it is. So, this means, I wouldn't be able to use this word properly without knowing those particular phrases! I could understand why most foreigners, even if they are fluent, don't use this word.

There was another surprising story. 'Effectively', which is also a connecting word, is another mysterious word for me, but NY wasn't even aware whether it is 'effectively' or 'affectively'! This is, too, the word I've heard from him very often. He and another English friend, both are intelligent, couldn't explain what the word means properly.

As NY sometimes say to me, many English people can't spell lots of words correctly. This means, speaking and writing are totally different things. Literally, English is not that easy. (Is this the proper way of using it...?)

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