Commentary: A few rulings from the 'Word Pope'

Being your Word Pope may look all cool because I get to sit around issuing grammatical encyclicals and wearing funny hats.

But it's difficult work because some people never tire of saying stupid things, as you may have noticed.

Like over the weekend, I was watching one of those goofy ghost shows on cable TV where courageous truth-seekers go into some creepy building because they long to solve mysteries of the spirit realm, plus it's a cheap way to get attention. They take video of dust balls floating around, determine they must be psychic orbs and lard on the morbid drama.

"I was scared to death, literally," quoth one witness.

Here's the thing. If she was scared to death, literally, she'd be dead, and the undertaker would be trying to bend her jaw into a less attention-getting position.

So that's it. No more "literally." Just say what you mean in the first place, counsels Word Pope.

"Perfect Storm" is the name of a book that got made into a movie that got made into a cliché. Anytime a couple bad things happen in tandem, someone wants to call it a "perfect storm."

Word Pope is weary of perfect storms. They make his eyes roll. It is stricken from the ritual.

Likewise is the phrase "every parent's nightmare."

Word Pope has it on good authority that different parents have different nightmares. They range from the genuinely tragic to the baby-sitter canceling at the last minute.

Either way, it's trite to compare the event to a bad dream. Utter it no more.

Don't be alarmed, but Word Pope is rescinding the ancient edict against peppering each sentence with maximum possible usage of "like."

From this moment forward, it is permissible for young women to say, "I mean, like, he was all, like (insert moronic facial expression), and so I was all, like (insert reasonable, righteous facial expression)." Repeat as needed to make point.

This does not represent a liberalization of the doctrine. It merely reflects the fact that Word Pope knows when he's licked.

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