Monday, March 24, 2014

Prompting disaster?

On NPR’s Morning Edition this morning, a voice reading headlines noted the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The voice said that the spill “prompted an economic and environmental disaster.” Disaster, yes. Prompt? No.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate offers these definitions of prompt: “to move to action,” “incite”; “to assist (one acting or reciting) by suggesting or saying the next words of something forgotten or imperfectly learned,” “cue”; “to serve as the inciting cause of.”

The oil spill didn’t prompt a disaster, no more than a burning cigarette prompts a forest fire. The oil spill was and is a disaster, a disaster still in the making.

[The problem with paying attention to words: you’re always paying attention.]

comments: 0