Thursday, July 11, 2013

Impactification is now trending and it's awesomly resourceful.

I'm losing hope that the use of the word "trending" to mean occurring or becoming popular or simply being talked about is going to share the fate of "efforting," an equally bilious attempt that even my spell checker chokes on, to make a verb out of "trying to find out about."  I'm seeing "trending" everywhere, from shoe advertisements to CNN and they're not talking about a vector. It will soon become incomprehensible to the rising generation of Newpeakers to say the Dow is trending downwards.

If you're going to give me that old saw about living languages having to change, don't waste your words. If all change is a good thing, then it's a good thing for you to drop dead, not that I'm suggesting it and if all linguistic evolution is good, then every patios, every pidgin tongue and infantile balbation should be given prominence and all literature relegated to the compost heap.

I just read an article about new battery technology in Design News. The writer uses "resourceful" to mean there's a lot of  it available. Sand is very resourceful in the desert.  Hey, why use a dictionary when no solecism, ( no that's not an eclipse) no comically ignorant usage can ever be found to be in error. Smug ignorance is so resourceful, you know.  There's a lot of it around.

Yes, I know, technical journalism, like business writing seems to attract people who speak English as though they were native Wolof speakers who cheated their way through English 101, but the danger is in the cascade effect. 100 people will read it and begin to use the malapropism and it will spread to thousands like the disease it is and there will be nobody to say "hey, that's not what it means" because, you guessed it, language has to change. The meek may or may not inherit the earth, but the English language is already in probate and the beneficiaries are hipsters, hustlers, ad-men, con-men, marketers and morons.

In a educational system that ignores words as anything but random sounds with no history but treats spelling as immutable, it's not surprising that "in tact" is becoming a very frequent usage -- that is it's "trending."

I saw a tweet the other day "A plane crashed, lots of people impacted." and no, it wasn't a deliberate joke because 'Impact' now only exists as an unacknowledged metaphor having nothing to do with the collision of objects - like airplanes and the ground. Have an impacted molar? The dentist might ask you what it's impacted by. God help us, but our kids are being taught to use it that way and have no idea that words like affect and effect exist or what the difference is.

How many words have been subsumed into the universal "awesome" and how many times can a person work it into every expression? I'm sure the Guiness people are still counting. Is anyone counting the loss?  I don't think so and I do read fatuous articles ( I wanted to use that word one more time before it starts to mean fat) about how we're gaining so many new words like Diazepam and cloudsource, metrosexual and chillaxin.  But immensity and enormity, discomfit and discomfort,  infer and imply, noisome and noisy, torturous and tortuous, bated and baited, advise and advice, averse and adverse? -- half those words lost forever in a land where millions think Beethoven was a dog and couldn't read Melville if they were forced to. They're gone and won't be recognized by young readers if by some accident they should read anything.

Yep, it's a living thing and as with children, you never say no and everyone is a winner and everything they do and say is perfect in this best of Panglossian worlds and no, that's not a kind of paint. Or maybe it is now - whatever.

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