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Lingua Sceptica

Joined: October 11, 2012  (email not validated)
Comments posted: 1
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The greatest strength of the English language is, and has been through many centuries, it's ability to adapt and through evolving be a truly living language.

The term 'societal' may not be liked by the linguist purists but is one that has become necessary over time because of the prevalence and, hence, too broad a use of the term 'social'.

Breaking the use of the two terms down, I would describe 'societal' as being of a 'top-down' 'macro' nature with objectivity and a means to appreciating the bigger picture in its intent, whereas the more subjective and arguably, in linguistic terms, now too broadly used term 'social' is too 'bottom up' and 'micro' to be used as widely as it has been in the past within the intended context.

To proffer an example, asking the question "what will be the social impact be of this social policy" is bettered by asking "what is the societal impact of this social policy".

So, 'societal' equals the means to solve, whereas 'social' is, generally, the problem to be solved.

As ever, the English language evolves and moves itself forward to adapt to its own needs through the creation of a new word/term that improves on that already available.

Without, arbitrarily, drawing a line under this debate, as started by the student of English 1201, was he using the word 'societal' in the correct context?

Lingua Sceptica October 11, 2012, 4:50pm

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