04 April 2013

On potential pedantry...

Sadly, Oliver Kamm is now behind the (London) Times paywall, but I'd be interested in his take on this...

On the (BBC Radio 4) news a few minutes ago, there was yet another reference to the "potential threat" from N. Korea's nuclear weapons.

What other kind of threat is there?

A threat refers to something which may happen, detrimentally, in the future*. It is by definition potential. To qualify it as "potential" --or indeed "actual"-- is otiose, superfluous** and indeed meaningless.

And the same goes for danger, risk, and more positively opportunity.

I ought to get out more..

* Sorry! "going forward". Yeugh!.

** Yes, to use both almost synonymous adjectives is itself either one or the other, but can it be both?

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