FW: USAGE- Wisdom Tooth

Subject: FW: USAGE- Wisdom Tooth
From: KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 11:01:24 -0500

In the realm of English usage, I guess I'm a
hopeless revanchist.

I picture all those shareholders being restrained
under increasing, painful pressure, doomed to
erupt eventually in an excruciating and messy way...
probably smelly, too. "Impacted", indeed.

The first time I heard the words "asteroid" and
"impacted" in the same sentence, I wondered what
the heck an asteroid was doing, struggling to
get OUT of a tight space.

If there was any way to find out for sure, I'd
bet my next year's salary that somebody was given
the job of telling the press that "a big rock
had slammed into the moon", and decided on the
spot that "... body impacted the lunar surface"
sounded so much more highfalutin and important
and "duh, scientific-like, duh".

It's not a problem that words are used in
novel ways that bring some new clarity or
efficiency to verbal and written communication.
It's a problem that perfectly fine words are
misused because "Duh, they sound sorta like
the thing I wanna say, so Duh, they'll do",
and the new meaning destroys the usefulness of the old.

I still haven't made peace with "hopefully"...

I acknowledge that usage changes, but I resent
the fact that so much of the change I've seen
over my lifetime (so far...) has come out of
nothing more valuable than stupidity and carelessness.
Apparently, though, those are mighty and compelling

Of the hundreds of words that have been co-opted
for new uses, perhaps three have represented
actual gains in utility (and I can't remember
which ones they are, just now). All the rest seem
to have sacrificed nuance and shades of meaning on
the altars of marketing-speak or of some kind of
"affirmative action".

By that I mean "Hire our newscasters and commentators
on the basis of looks and how well the camera loves
'em. We must exclude no one just because they are
linguistically challenged in their mother tongue..."
Apparently, after that edict went into effect, it
took no time at all for it to filter into hiring
practices for teachers... or was that the other way

Oh DRAT! I'm ranting again, aren't I?

Anyway, I'll be holding onto what I perceive as
proper -- if somewhat conservative -- usage in
my documents. I think it lends a certain dignified
and substantial tone even to marketing docs.
Certainly, proper usage has pride-of-place in
technical docs.

With that said, however, I agree that we should
keep to the terminology of the industry in which
we write. As for what goes around that terminology,
and holds it together, well let's try to get those
parts right, shall we? Preserve them from the descent
into mush.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tom Johnson [mailto:johnsont -at- starcutter -dot- com]

> I don't know, the first use of impacted I ever heard, back in
> the 60's, had
> to do with large chunks of rock hitting the moon creating
> impact craters. Of
> course, my own experience may not mean it is right.
> So, to put a
> techwr-l spin
> on this, we need to spend time talking with our SME folks so
> we know the
> language they are speaking. An astronomer will use words
> differently than a
> physician which means we need to know the context words are
> being used in.
> And, we need to be aware of how words can be misinterpreted
> by different
> audiences.

Like those asteroids and shareholders who find themselves
painfully crammed into tight spaces?

> > Another correct usage is the medical term "impacted bowels,"
> > which refers to
> > what clinicians call "substantial constipation." I, too,
> > shudder when I read
> > or hear people using the word "impacted" in anything other
> > than a medical
> > context . . . for all the obvious reasons!

> > | I heard somewhere that the word "impacted" should be used
> > only in relation
> > | to dental hygiene- more specifically "an impacted wisdom tooth".

> > | For other situations, "affected" or "influenced" should
> > suffice. (Re: John
> > | Posada's earlier post- impacted stake holders..). So,
> > whenever I use
> > | "impacted", I feel a twinge of guilt. Anyone on my side?

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