Monday, July 30, 2007

Impacting Language

E is always sharing these theories with me - I don't know where she gets them, but they are often very relevant. One of them is called "90-10." Basically 90-10 refers to the way in which men will be 10% sure of something and present it as total fact and women will be 90% sure of something and still present it as a possibility. Being pretty smart and savvy women, we often laugh later about how we or someone else was 90-10'ing something.

One area in which I especially hate being challenged (a la 90-10) is on language and the meanings of words. I may not be well-read, but I certainly am widely-read, if I can coin a phrase and unconsciously have a pretty large vocabulary. I cannot always give a precise definition of a word, but I can usually provide enough context for understanding. So E's friend has been correcting her a lot lately on her use of language and grammar and she often shares these pearls with me. I cannot say that I haven't learned anything from this, but I can say that she shouldn't trust everything that someone says. Just because he's right 90% of the time doesn't mean she should accept the 10% that is wrong.

Case in point: he says that IMPACT is not a verb, but should only be used as a noun. Upon further discussion, he allowed that impact may be in the dictionary as a verb, but only due to people's constant misuse. Let's see what Webster has to say on this topic:

Etymology: Latin impactus, past participle of impingere to push against
Date: 1601
transitive verb

1a: to fix firmly by or as if by packing or wedging
b: to press together
2a: to have a direct effect or impact on : impinge on
b: to strike forcefully; also : to cause to strike forcefully

intransitive verb
1: to have an impact —often used with on
2: to impinge or make contact especially forcefully


Function: noun
Date: 1781
1 a: an impinging or striking especially of one body against another b: a forceful contact or onset; also : the impetus communicated in or as if in such a contact2: the force of impression of one thing on another : a significant or major effect

Hmmm...last I checked 1781 actually occurred long after 1601, so it would seem that the use of impact as a verb did, in fact, predate its use as a noun and that the usage as a noun evolved from the action of the verb. Well, I guess that's one possibility.

No comments: