I came acrost your message, and it really impacted me. Irregardless, this comment thing is a great way for readers to interface with their nucular opinions. Hope I input my message in the right box! Time to head off to the libary…
There are many words in “the dictionary” that are not words. You cannot use the fact that hundreds of thousands of people use a word incorrectly as evidence that they are using it correctly. That is tantamount to saying, “There are hundreds of thousands of murders each year, so we should just accept murder as law.” Yes, impact likely appears in dictionaries as a verb today. It didn’t always. And using it as a verb only displays to those of us with a respect for language and law that a person has a limited vocabulary. One last thing: An itch is a thing. To scratch an itch is to do something. To itch an itch makes no sense. Again, it just shows that the person saying it has a very poor vocabulary (or, alternatively, is extremely lazy … splitting hairs, I know …). It is true that there are a slew of words which are appropriately nouns and verbs. Hammer is a good example. You hammer a nail with a hammer. A knock is another good one. When you knock on a door you are producing a knock. Itch and scratch are not the same, though. You cannot itch an itch. A person saying that sounds about as intelligent as a person saying, “I’m hungry. Let’s go food,” or, “Can you car me to the airport?” So. While I have to admit that you are correct – itch and impact appear in the dictionary as verbs – the point of the entry on which you commented is that no self-respecting writer (or speaker) of English would use them as such.
Impact and itch are now verbs as well as nouns. Languages evolve over time. Nouns become verbs and verbs are made nouns. Note that while ‘compute’ has been a verb for some time, how long has language needed its noun form: ‘computer’?
While I agree that blatantly incorrect usage implies either ignorance or stupidity, to insist that a language remain static denies the fact that societies and therefore their language do progress (and regress in some cases).
The argument that murder ought to become acceptable just because a word becomes acceptable also denies societal evolution. The death penalty , euthanasia and abortion debates illustrate that societal definitions of murder are in fact dynamic. It was not uncommon once for soldiers to kill severely wounded comrades who were sure to die on their own (euthanasia). The thought of this practice now is enough to send many people into apoplectic fits. The greeks left deformed infants to die of exposure and this wasn’t considered murder. Thus, by applying the converse of this argument, as societal attitudes towards murder have changed, language must change also.
What I want to know is why ‘whenever’ became a replacement for ‘when’. Now *that* will drive a linguistic snob like myself ‘mad’ 🙂
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