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10 Comments

  • There can be some confusion. For instance when a Derbyshire local council made a decision about refuse collection which was reported as “Council makes rubbish decision” in the local paper!

  • One of the most sensible articles on the subject I’ve read so far. Although one should ponder on the emerging need of linguistic change in its inevitable pace throughout the transformation of modern society. Taking this into account, words like ‘texting’ are bound to happen. Perhaps ‘medalling’ is a bit of a stretch, I agree. But we are living in an age where oversimplification seems to be the ground rule for most things. I would go for ‘everyhing in moderation and moderation in everything’ – but that’s just me.

  • English is so marvellously inventive! Why try to curb it?
    On the other hand, bad English – of which we get more and more, even on Radio4! – should be checked!
    My all-time bugbear : “actually”!!!
    Pls can someone put a stop to this word parasitizing a lot of inarticulate people’s speech?!!!!!!!!!!!!
    “…actually, it wasn’t the actual fact that actually put us off…” etc!!!!

  • I believe “impact” being used as a verb is at least as old as Pepys, as it is found in his diary. I think.

  • There’s no verbal “impact” in Project Gutenberg’s complete diaries, but it might come up in his letters. OED’s first citation for the verb is from 1601, but that’s in the literal sense of packing things tightly together. The figurative sense, of having a strong effect or influence on something, has a first citation from 1935.

  • Thanks Stephen, so I remembered the 17th Century bit right! I was however unaware of the sense used, so that’s interesting. I would have thought the sense closest to the Latin original would have been naturally used as a verb with the sense of “affect” or similar.

  • If using “key” instead of “the key” (which is itself already a figure of speech, and as such something to be tampered with only with great care) isn’t merely lazy or sloppy, but is instead somehow “clearer” and “quicker,” then what means are left for defending the use of articles in other parts of speech? At this rate, we’ll be lucky if, in another decade or so, we are not reduced to speaking pig Latin!

  • Instead of saying “who’s going to action this?” or the clumsy and convoluted “Who is going to take responsibility for ensuring that this plan is carried out,” why can’t you just say, “OK, who’s going to do this?” “Do” is such a simple and useful little word and here you are trying to jam “action” into this. The mind, she boggles.

  • Another example of a denominal adjective that is very striking to me as an American (who doesn’t have it) is s**t, as in “You’ve written a s**t paper here”. I would have to say “s**tty paper”, whereas to my BrE-speaking colleague that is too literal to be usable.