Monday, June 11, 2007

What's wrong with impacting or accessing?

There are some professional communicators who decry the use of "impact" and "access" as verbs.

But why? The English language is full of words that act as verbs as well as nouns and adjectives: rub, release, contact, copy, bar, act, dam, staple, shoe, box, bag, handle --- the list goes on.

So what's wrong with saying "to access" or "to impact"?

The resistance by many teachers and communications professionals, I think, reveals a bias. "To access" is a phrase or a use common in the IT industry, while "impacting" is a usage that grew out of the corporate world. Communications pedants tend to look down their noses as these two fields as being populated by functional illiterates.

They may be right in that; there is no shortage of bad writing from the computer or corporate fields.

But you know, nobody is wrong all the time. Sometimes, the most efficient word to use is "to access," especially when we're talking about computers.

And remember, English is a living language. People are always inventing new words for new things, and using old words in new ways.

I, for one, have no more problem accessing my blog site, hoping that my words will impact someone else.

What do you think?


  1. Organic language: often hurts the ears for a long time (like "enthused" -- ouch); but eventually, the sound abates.

  2. Access and impact as verbs are clunky and lifeless. While necessary in a business environment, too many of those words drain writing of all oomph. This morning I received guidelines on making my work "green." It contained bullet points like this: "Prioritize and optimize usage patterns" with brief explanations.

    I simply can't read it. My eyes glaze over.

    1. Well, "prioritize" and "optimize" are completely different from "impact." I think that "impact" has quite a lot of oomph, whether as a noun or a verb.

      And let's not forget, dentists were using "impact" as a verb decades ago!