Midweek Semantic Snobbery

Having encountered in several places some less than lovely prose on a heavy-lidded afternoon, I’m provoked enough to fussily register a few fastidious notes.

The creationist proponent and erstwhile debater is named “Ken Ham,” not “Ken Hamm.” I saw this regularly over the last few weeks from both his friends and foes. While I understand the desire to grant him an extra letter, I would’ve chosen differently.

One is in the “throes” of death, not its “throws.

A man who styles himself a writer ill-advisedly employed the word “impactful.” I may send him the following from dictionary.com:

Impactful is one of those words that somehow arouse [sic] intense disdain, especially among editors and other would-be guardians of English. According to its critics, the word exemplifies “bad, ugly usage.” They call it “barbarous,” dismiss it as “a meaningless buzzword,” and hate it so much that they extend their contempt of the word to contempt for its users [indeed!]. Some justify their scorn by saying that the word lacks the original meaning of the suffix -ful —“full of”— as in remorseful  or wrathful.

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7 responses to “Midweek Semantic Snobbery

  • John Mortensen

    The correct spelling is Kenm Hamn.

  • deeplygrateful

    My undergraduate literature professor told my class “the only things that get impacted are colons and molars.”

  • Andrew Smith

    it’s fascinating to me that you’re often non-traditional in theological issues, but very conservative in language issues. I wonder: what do you think of baseball sabermetrics? :)

    • timgombis

      HA! Interesting . . . This’ll give me plenty to think about, self-analytically.

      It’s all a matter of looking closely at things, it seems. Many in my cultural context don’t look closely at the biblical text, but rather theologize from other places (badly-constructed ‘worship’ songs, common-stock assumptions of what God is like and what the Bible says). And many speak and write in general from what they hear and read without discerning whether it’s proper usage.

      That puts me in a tough spot when it comes to sabermetrics. There’s no denying that it’s a useful tool, that it’s a device for looking closely at things. But it takes the romance out of the game. I’m more interested in the art of sport than the science. But to deny the science is to bury one’s head in the sand.

  • Joel Owens

    Though, ‘impactful’ (being ‘full of impact’) does adequately describe winter driving in west Michigan :)

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