Monday, October 03, 2011

If nobody tells you, how can you know?

Dear People of the English-Speaking World:

The word is "normality".

Think about "formal", which is an adjective. Now make it into a noun....did you say to yourself, "formalcy"? No, you did not.

There is no such word as "normalcy". You may have used it yourself, and now you're saying "What? Of course there is!" But don't feel badly; you couldn't have known. It's everywhere - like "impact" used as a verb, as in "Your hydro bill won't really be impacted by that." [im-PAC-ted...yuck]  When, really, if you're not talking about a wisdom tooth or a bowel, don't say "impacted".

You could say "These changes won't really have an impact on your hydro bill."

Is "normalcy" in the dictionary? Sure. So is "LOL", and you won't catch etymologists and grammarians using that, either.

So please practice this: "The English language has to regain some semblance of normality."

You are a person with free will - of course you are. And if you decide to say "The English language has to regain some semblance of normalcy," nobody will arrest you. You just won't have my blessing, that's all.

And really, who cares about that?

Carry on.



Carolyn said...

I am in complete agreement with you on the horrible misuse of impact. I cringe - and get a dense feeling inside - when people talk about how they were impacted by something. Some things are TMI.

There are some uses of 'inform' that grate, too. I've blocked them from my head, but I think it's either the intransitive or incorrect passive that sticks in my ears.

Kate said...

I can't figure out how to pronounce normalcy even. And is LOL really in the dictionary? Sigh. That doesn't make my job any easier.

Kate said...

PS I really like the new look on the blog today!

tara said...

My personal least favourite is "addicting" instead of "addictive"... Sigh.

Dave Hingsburger said...

bowels are impacted, teeth are impacted ... but other than that ... A friend told me a funny story about her 7 or 8 year old boy who was cheeky. She had made hot chocolate and had the spout over his cup and she said, 'What do you say?' He said, "I want a hot chocolate. She said, "Don't forget the 'p' word." He said, "Piss off and give me hot chocolate." She fell about laughing when telling me. I still find it funny. When people use words like that, I always remember the 'p' word.

Another Joan said...

Ummm, my Shorter OED says both normals are correct although the cy one is "orig. U.S.". Totally agree with you on impact. And in other delightful news (thanks to OED rambling) did you know Norn is one of the female Fates of Scandinavian mythology and a Noria is a Spanish device for raising water? Useful for Scrabble, perhaps??

Shan said...

Another Joan - Yes, I know it's in the dictionary! All sorts of abominations perpetrated against the language are in the dictionary...I like to think of Oxford scholars looking at each other forlornly and saying, "Thing is, old bean, what if, someday, someone wants to know what the thing means, or where it came from?" After all, if they pretended it wasn't happening, that would make them Sorbonne scholars from France, rather than Oxford scholars from England.


lizbon said...

I blame George Lucas for the corrupting of "impacted." See Luke Skywalker & Co.'s attack runs on the Death Star in first movie. "It didn't go in. Just impacted on the surface." And as we all know, Lucas is/was/always will be a hack.

lizbon said...

PS. I suppose I ought to have said "corruption of," but I believe both are correct.