There are those who caricature Ayer (And the other Positivist
s), saying "AJ Ayer said that 'Any statement that is not empirically verifiable is nonsense'; Unfortunately this statement isn't empirically verifiable, therefore it is either untrue or nonsense." They are ill-educated cockweasel
s, fatuously trying to score points.
Ayer considered statements to be "literally meaningful" if they were either empirically decidable, or if they were analytic statements. Analytic statements are statements concerning a formal system. These systems need to start with certain postulates and definitions. The definition of literal meaning is just that: a definition that underlies the entire Positivist discourse.
If you find anyone caricaturing the positivists in this way, kill them. It's better for all of us. If you are a beginner at this, the best way is with "Language, Truth, and Logic" (The revised edition with the giant introduction acknowledging the flaws in the work).