Saturday, January 27, 2007

Impacted Wisdom

Count me among those who dislike using impact as a verb. I didn't say it couldn't be justified or defended on linguistic and historical grounds, as pointed out by The American Heritage Dictionary and others.

But I don't have to like such usage -- or use it.

And if I do use impact as a verb, I want it reserved for one of its most literal meanings, which I experienced yesterday as a passenger in a car.

"The car I was riding in was impacted by a pickup truck advancing upon us from the rear, which forced our car to collide with the car in front of us."

Yes, collided is a better verb. (But the collision, or, um, adverse impacted event, also known as an accident, hurts just as much or causes as much damage.)

Along with others, I don't like impact as a verb because it smacks of smug jargon. A more specific verb (affected, influenced, harmed, deteriorated, corrupted, failed...) would convey the real intended meaning. But maybe the users of impact as a verb are trying to obfuscate. (I think the current vogue use is owing to the jargon employed in environmental impact statements.)


No one got hurt in the accident. I thought I'd be sore today, but wasn't.

There but for the grace of God go I.

(Hmmm, as noted in the link above, Wikipedia gives an informative history of that phrase, crediting John Bradford.)

It wasn't a semitractor-trailer bearing down on us.

I am reminded of Emily Dickinson's sobering words:

Because I could not stop for Death He kindly stopped for me. . . .


My Heart Runneth Over said...

Brilliant post.

I am so glad your well and did not get hurt.

All the best!~M

Meloncutter said...

I would tend to think that the phrase "That crazy assed, stoopid sumbitchin redneck dun plowed the ass end of my car wiffim his pickem up truck" would tend to work. This is a common statement on accident forms using "plowed" as the verb.

Just a thought.

Later Y'all

Army said...

You aren't the first person I know to take issue with the misuse of the word. But they weren't as clever about it : )

It always reminds me of that horrible movie, Deep Impact. But that was a misuse of so many things, up to and including Morgan Freeman. (sigh)

Kevin Hayden said...

I always thought impacted required the use of a (sore) colon.

Glamourpuss said...

Glad you are safe.


Dafath said...

reading the title
i thought the labels might read
Dentists (nice vacations)

happily, death took a by on this opportunity

Michael C said...

The only good use for impacted seems to be in describing an impacted wisdom tooth! And we know that's never fun...

JR's Thumbprints said...

Mr. Wisdom Tooth said, "I was impacted by a vehicle approaching from the rear."

Odat said...

I too thought it was going to be about teeth...however you the impact of your use of alterntives has influenced and probably corrupted my faith in "vogue usage" of the English language.
Glad you're ok...

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