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Language Dead Ends

Our language is evolving, constantly changing as new memes enter into it and disrupt the existing paradigm. And this is awful. Here are some of the most annoying ways language is losing meaning, at least that I can remember right now…

“Impact”

This is by far the most commonly used way of avoiding learning the difference between “affect” and “effect”. Instead of using the right word, people use “impact” to avoid a common grammatical mistake and as a way to look smart in the process. Well, stop. You’re not fooling anyone. “Impact” implies physical contact; I know it’s normally being used metaphorically, but it’s used so often it has lost all its meaning. Are these impacts positive or negative? Do they literally or figuratively knock down the people they impact? is it emotional impact or physical or intellectual impact? Are teeth involved?

Just learn how to describe the effects of whatever thing is affecting whatever noun you’re abusing with your use of the word “impact.”

“Unexpectedly”

Over the last five years or so, a lot of articles in the popular press have used this word when reporting some economic indicator. However, this word was used so often, it became quite expected that things would be unexpected. Which raises the question, why were our predictions so unexpectedly wrong? Normally predictions are made by heavily credentialed ‘smart’ people journalists seek out because of their expertise in a certain field. But if these ‘expert’ economists making all these predictions were so wrong so often, how came journalists kept returning to the same sour well? As far as I’m concerned, any journalist employed by a major media organization that reports economic news has lost the privilege of using the word “unexpectedly” and its many variants.

“Begs the question”

‘Begging the question’ is a logical fallacy; stealing phrases from philosophy without knowing what they actually mean makes you sound dumber to smart people, just fyi. A situation may ‘raise’ issues or even questions, it may beggar belief, but it does not ‘beg’ because situations aren’t unemployed people with an addiction to independent coffee houses.

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