Verlyn Klinkeborg provides a short lesson on the literal life of sentences:
Sentences are always literal, no matter how much some writers abhor the idea of being literal…. Your opinion of what your sentence means is always overruled by what your sentence literally says. A good reader may be good at following the leaps and bounds of your thinking but is also, always, reading literally, alive to the misdirection of ambiguous sentences.
…don’t be blinded by what you think you’re saying. The sentence you make won’t give you the benefit of the doubt, even though the reader may. And don’t assume that the literal meaning of a sentence is the least important one. It’s the only important one.
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