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Strictly Speaking



Increasingly is the word impactful on the lips of otherwise articulate people. Its adoption is characteristic of the rage to parrot others in order to capture their attention. Even by the spell checker in this blog, impactful is underlined in red, meaning either that it isn't a word, or I've misspelled it. The latter I have not, unfortunately.

The problem with this and other malignant neologisms is that we have no linguistic immune system to cleanse speech. Impactful is troubling not because it cannot possibly be a word, but because it lacks any thoughtful moral grounding.

Impactful might include the object that bashed into the early Earth, creating debris that became our moon. Impactful certainly described the asteroid that ended the dinosaurs, as it describes other asteroid impacts that brought similar mass extinctions. Impactful must by needs include the first nuclear weapon dropped on Hiroshima. Total thermonuclear war would certainly redefine impactfulness, if the derivative noun it the metastatic inevitability of the root adverb.

Owing to common usage, most of us are forced to conceded that we think we know what the speaker intends, but even so, a matter of "how" remains embedded in silence by the word itself. It fails by being incompletely intuitive, and the devil in the details of agreement is the cognitive equivalent of seven blind men and a neological elephant.
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