When I first saw the word impact used as a verb (I was working as a news editor at the time) I changed it immediately, without even thinking… Okay, that was a lie. I thought “Seriously? What’s next, affectationate?” Anyway, I kept on seeing impact as a verb more and more frequently, and eventually had to swallow the fact it had become an accepted use of the word. Which in no way removed it from my pet peeve list, however.
Some noble, smart people have few pet peeves. They don’t have the time or energy to focus on the negativity in life. I, on the other hand, have a lot of energy for silly, petty stuff like language pet peeves as long as they keep me distracted from the big, bad, horrible things in life that make me want to just lie down and die already because it’s never getting better, only worse.
So, I have a lot of pet peeves ranging from ornamental language to the wrong use of your/you’re but only a few choice ones deserve mentioning in this blog post. The worst ones. The ones that make me squirm even after all these years I’ve been working with language and living with language. In no particular order:
“I could care less”
I’m sure you could but I’m also sure that’s not what you meant. You meant you couldn’t care less, which is the exact opposite of what you said and, sadly, you’re not being ironic. I have no idea how this could have happened: turning the meaning of such a simple and straightforward phrase on its head. Seriously, it’s not like this is a superpeculiar idiom or anything. It’s literal. Why savage it like that?
The effect/affect conundrum
I recently had an epiphany about this one. I don’t see it very often but when I do I cringe. I mean, how hard can it be to remember which is which, really? And then it hit me. In American English, the two are homophones, which makes it a lot harder to distinguish between. Not so in Brit English, though, which explains why the effect/affect conundrum is more of an American thing.
Impacted, interfaced, incentivised, and randomised
Okay, I need a second to calm down here.
Right. Here’s what I think about verbalising nouns. Googling something is a natural case of language economy when searching in Google is simply longer to write so you shorten it by making google a verb. Impacting stuff when you have affect, influence, and a host of variations with specific connotations that make a word just right for a context is linguistic butchery. No, I won’t apologise. It’s butchery. The end.
Forecasted and greenlighted
Sadly, I’ve been increasingly seeing forecasted in reputable sources online and I believe it’s only a matter of time before we are introduced to bringed. I even have a vague memory of a proposal to do away with irregular verbs altogether because it’s so hard to learn them and who cares anyway.
I do and I’m sure I’m not the only one. You can talk about language fluidity until you drop dead from exhaustion but there must be limits and irregular verbs are one of these limits. If you could learn the multiplication table then you could learn a couple hundred irregular verbs, many of which follow the same pattern anyway so they’re easy to learn.
Yes, I use it and yes, I hate its guts. It’s a parasite that somehow finds its way in every other article I write. It’s certainly economical to use but like other parasites, it’s so convenient you start forgetting all the other better ways you can express a thought involving a nuance of something occurring with growing frequency.
Word parasites suck but we all use them. Some of us use them more sparingly than others and these are the ones who know their business. They constantly watch themselves for parasites and they pick them and throw them away when they spot them. The rest of us can only hope to get to be as good as these writers when we grow up. Until then, I, for one, will increasingly pay attention to the frequency with which I use the bloody word.