Monday, 21 September 2015


In case you don't follow James Blunt on twitter, here's a tip: follow him. His tweets mostly consist of sporadic bursts of sarcastic retorts to people's Blunt-hate. Here's one:

Screenshot of a James Blunt tweet
I have in the past been guilty of criticising James Blunt. I seem to remember writing a not-very-complimentary article about his music many years ago. But then he was on something on telly and was very funny and likeable, and then he started tweeting, and, well, now I think he's great.

The tweet he's responding to includes an adverb from the 'literal-to-intensifier' group: physically. Along with literally, legitimately, virtually and the like, it's at risk of becoming an intensifier adverb like totally or actually. This use of physically does retain most of its lexical meaning: she wants to physically punch him, with her hand, rather than mentally wishing it upon him. But it seems like it might be an example of the kind of usage that can easily leak into more metaphorical usage.

And then Blunt responds with a clever pun on the word slapper, as well as a grammatical correction. Normally one doesn't approve of correcting grammar to win points in a fight but here it's intended to make the other person feel foolish so it's OK, I suppose? And also it's nice to see an over-correction re-corrected back down again. The over-correction comes about because we are often told not to say things like 'me and James Blunt', and that it should be 'James Blunt and I'. So it should, if it's the subject of the sentence. But when it's the object of a preposition like between, the pronoun needs to be in 'oblique' case, or in other words me rather than I. So would all nouns, in fact, if we had a richer case system, but we only have different forms for the pronouns in English.

No comments:

Post a Comment