Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Senate applies new interrogation techniques

Today in a very short report for NPR about Alberto Gonzales' latest stand before a Senate Panel, contributor Dina Temple-Raston said that the senators "battered him literally for hours."

First: Literally does not have to mean absolutely literally. It can be a fuzzy and jagged line between metaphorical and literal usage of any word. It's probably more like a dotted line.

Next: Literally in this quote is surely referring to the hours he had to endure. It is not modifying the method of attack. And that's a grammatical and absolutely literal reading.

Penultimate: It's still pretty funny.

Last: Perhaps it would have been better to say that they "battered him for literally hours." But it would not be necessary and certainly not "more" correct.


  1. Brilliant! If you (the Senate) can't beat'm (Bush Admin), join'm (in torture / interrogation).

  2. I love when people use the word penultimate.

  3. I would just like to point out that battering is a common preparation for something one intends to deep fry.

  4. Well did you see the coverage? Gonzales was pretty much cooked.

  5. It's funny that you posted on this subject because I was thinking about the use of the word "literally" today before I read your blog. My mother often says things like "I literally jumped out of my skin." I've never had the heart to ask her how she got back into her skin. I laughed and chalked it up to perhaps a widening of the word to underscore or emphasize a certain statement. But,as you point out, it's still pretty funny. As is the word penultimate.

  6. I didn't watch the whole thing, but I was amazed at how calm he managed to stay. They battered/cooked/torched/whatever him, and he kept denying and changing the subject and contradicting himself without batting an eye.

  7. I on the other hand could barely stay seated while watching it. I kept yelling at the screen because I couldn't believe he was actually trying to get away with all his shifts.


Thanks for reaching out.

You can also contact me at wishydig[at]gmail[d0t]com.