Joho the Blog » Impacted by conflicted

Impacted by conflicted

For me, “impacted” refers to an unpleasant dental condition, and cannot be used as a verb. So, given my grammatical self-righteousness on this point, I was chastened to read a column written by William Safire sometime in 1989-1991 (in his anthology In Love with Norma Loquendi) criticizing the use of “conflict” as a verb. He cites a psyhotherapist who says, “Conflicted as a verb is fairly recent.” It had not occurred to me that I need to make an ass of myself about that word as well.

On the other hand, Safire points out that in the sentence “He felt conflicted,” “conflicted” is a predicate adjective — “a past participle used as an adjective after a linking verb” — and thus isn’t being used as a verb. But it is a verb in the sentence “Therapists have to work on resolving what conflicts the patient.”

Since I don’t understand predicate adjectives well enough to be sure I’m right when I denounce someone for misusing a term in a way that no one cares about and does not matter, I will simply have to amp up my sneering tone in order to raise the stakes on pushing back against my criticism.

4 Responses to “Impacted by conflicted”

  1. Any language is a work in progress, controlled only by its many millions of users — perhaps the truest democratic entity in the world. Grammar rules are helpful in describing usage patterns, but all attempts to make it proscriptive seem doomed to failure.

  2. Agreed lurkerfan. Years ago I was firmly snotty about people using “youse” which I labelled as uneducated and ugly. Until one evening my wife and I were in a restaurant the waitress asked us “what would youse like to order”. I sneered inwardly and we ordered. Then she came back to say to my wife, “I’m very sorry, your item isn’t available, what would you like instead”.

    Suddenly I realised that she was using, perfectly correctly, a singular and plural form of the second person pronoun which is apparently a serious fault in English; now being fixed.

    The language had changed while I was busy sneering. Since which time I have been much more tolerant and, hopefully, aware.

    Although I still can’t figure out how to use “like” correctly. As in “Like I was all, like, Duh! and she was like, ‘WHATEVER’ “

  3. “‘English was created by barbarians, by a rabble of angry peasants,’ McIntyre says. ‘Because if it wasn’t, we would still be speaking Anglo-Saxon.’ Or worse, French.”
    -http://wapo.st/IYzcbs

    If we don’t accept “corruption,” anything since Chaucer is incorrect, including both this blog post and this comment.

  4. I still bristle when I hear that a book is a good “read.” But I do agree with lurkerfan that language is a work in progress. I have become used to folks saying that something “needs done.” I don’t, like, sneer as much as I have in the past, but I still decry the lack of nuance in a dumbed-down set of expressions and the increase in misuse of certain words, particularly whatever constitutes the latest business buzz phrases, like “circle back” and “reach out.”

    I’ll stop now before I launch into a screed on apostrophes.

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