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In yesterday’s Impromptus, I had a little note on the evolutionary nature of the English language. For example, nouns frequently become verbs (“to table a motion”). I said that I had given up on “access” as a verb — meaning, I had accepted it. “You gotta access the database,” I can live with. But I’m still not ready for “impact”: “impact” as a verb. “The movie impacted me in a big way.” Ay, caramba. I called that “an uglyism too far.”

This item provoked much, much mail, and I would like to publish just one letter, which has charm:

Mr. Nordlinger,

I have the same history as you when it comes to “access” as a verb. Using it as a verb grated on me like a double negative — and I live in the double-negative capital of the United States. [Birmingham, Ala.] [Sorry, Birmingham! I’m sure he meant that in the nicest way.] Then one day it occurred to me that I had given up the fight a long time ago without even realizing it. It was most likely because of my doing things like programming microprocessors, where it is so much easier to say, “We need to access the data we stored in register X,” etc.

The English language is truly fluid, as fluid as liberals see the Constitution, but I don’t have no time for that kind of thinking.


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