Thursday, May 10, 2007

Significantly impactful incetivisation

Today, Laurel Broten, being interviewed on CBC Toronto's 'Here & Now' about the govenment's lame plan to reduce the number of plastic bags, got my attention when she described her plan as "significantly impactful". She followed this up by talking about the need to "incentivise" consumers.

Both impactful and incentivise are from the early 1970s, but Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage says that a second sighting of incentivise in the wild isn't recorded until the 1980s. By that time we had the even newer but shorter version incent. Neither seem to be particularly common. There are no instances at all of incent, incentivise, or incentivize (or impactful for that matter) in the British national Corpus. Google, on the other hand, has 434,000 hits for the -ize version and another 370,000 for the -ise spelling, while incent trails in total google hits by about 100,000. These usages seem to be ghettoised to the speech of business and political promotional purposes.

As Mr. Verb's tagline says, "Language changes. Deal with it. Revel in it." Somehow, though, I had trouble reveling in Broten's language.

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