July 16th, 2005

I Will Not Defame New Orleans.

Death Sentences

…from an email to M. Bat:

So. I'm reading a rather interesting book that calls you and all you stand for (what IS it you 'stand for', anyway?) to mind.

It's called Death Sentences: How Clichés, Weasel Words, and Management-Speak Are Strangling the Public Language by Don Watson.

I trust I need expound no further than to give you the full title of the book before you dash out the door, or onto bn.com, to procure yourself a copy. It's a good read.

Watson unknowingly 'quotes' you in so many instances, as I recall many conversations we have had about the misuse of corporate language, in particular, the words 'expedite' and 'impact'.

In the back of the book he includes a 'glossary' of dead words.

This, I cannot help but excerpt for you:
IMPACT: (v. also n., becoming rarer) To run, crash, thump, bang, etc. into (as in "We don't know how the drought will IMPACT on farmers' bottom lines"). Affect, change, alter, shift, reshape, etc., the economy, the landscape, the airline industry, the status of women, football, the national identity, one's personal identity, one's hair, etc. Remake, transmogrify, transform, surprise, spruce up, let down, etc.

EXERCISE: Open you favorite Stephen King novel and substitute "impact" for the first seventeen verbs. Read aloud.
Okay, I'll play.

From The Shining:
Danny's small hands impacted the bolt. Wendy was too far away to impact; the issue of whether he would be locked in or free was going to be impacted in two seconds. Danny missed his grip, impacted it again, and impacted the bolt across just as the latch began to impact madly up and down below it. Then it impacted up and there was a series of impacts as Jack impacted his shoulder against the door. The bolt, a quarter inch of steel in diameter, showed no signs of impacting. Wendy impacted her breath out slowly.

"Let me out of here!" Jack impacted. "Let me out! Danny, doggone it, this is your father and I want to get out! Now impact what I tell you!"
Okay, that last line should have read "Now implement what I tell you!"