1. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Actually misuse

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by OurJud, Sep 16, 2020.

    I’ve heard it said that people often misuse the word actually, both in speech and writing. I think I know what’s meant by this, an example being if someone said “Hey, you know that film I’ve been meaning to watch for ages? Well I actually watched it last. I actually watched it all the way through.”

    But is its use here grammatically incorrect or merely redundant? And what would be some examples of proper use?
     
  2. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Contributor Contributor

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    It's not incorrect. It means "in reality". But it's redundant in the example, unless the the other person is expressing disbelief at the person saying they watched the whole film.

    "I didn't actually watch the film" = "I didn't really watch the film".
     
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  3. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    i didnt actually watch the film might = the film was on but i didn't take much notice of it... a lot depends on context
     
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  4. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Contributor Contributor

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    This is true.
     
  5. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Though it certainly reads as a casual register of speech, it is not ungrammatical, nor would I say that it is truly redundant even in this use. Here, it serves as an emphatic, particularly in the second use where it intones the idea of contrary to the expected.

    It is the kind of thing that can develop into a sort of ubiquitous decoration of one's speech, like tacking innit on the end of statements that aren't genuine questions. People do tend to curate some intolerant opinions about that sort of thing. Perhaps the informality combined with the aforementioned is giving rise to a host of detractors. It happens. Some people object to cliche as an adjective; I'm fine with it as an adjective but object riotously to retaining the Gallic diacritics, a formality we observe for no other language than French. Teachers to this day cluck their tongues at ain't, a word that's been with us since at least the 17-hundreds. *shrug* Such is Man.
     
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  6. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Contributor Contributor

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    Love, actually, innit?
     
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  7. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I do. The one that gets my goat is the current trend in responding to questions like “What do you do for a living?” (that you might hear on quiz shows) with “So.....”

    “So, I’m a trainee veterinarian based in bla bla bla...”
    “Oh, interesting. And what about your family?”
    “So, I’m married to Phil who’s a teacher in bla bla bla...”
     
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  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    So do I. As mentioned, I find the unique pedestal we give to French loan words to be unsupportable, and not even observed with any kind of regularity. All of the -tion and -cion words we also borrowed from French also demand accent marks in the original language, but we ignore those in modern use.

    And sometimes the language chooses against the academic grain.

    There are those who present an argument that sentences should never begin with hopefully. But that word, in that use, is regular and consistent across all speaking regions, which is how linguists say "You ain't never getting that cat back in the bag. Best make your peace with it."

    And the stuttered and broken migration of the pronoun ye-you-your-yours, where somehow we just lost the nominative case completely (ye) because "Never mind, luv, we'll just make do" is fascinating in the extreme that it would happen in such a broken fashion given how opinionated people have always been when it comes to these kinds of changes. Shakespeare himself famously deplored the way young actors were pronouncing his lines on stage. The R-less trend that today we associate with posh RP, in his day was associated with sloven youth. He hit all his Rs with all their due, as did Elizabeth I.
     
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