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The Power of a Single Word

I had to write this post today.

Today is one of those days when the weather is good and there’s not much work to do (even if you wanted to do it). So, I took a walk outside and drove out to get lunch instead of staying indoors. The weather is beautiful.

Anyway, on my walk I thought about the power of words.

I recently had a research paper accepted.

The funny point about this is that the acceptance letter had this as a line:

“Your paper is potentially suitable…”.

In lawyer speak, this means that we’ve accepted your paper under certain conditions. In my case, these are whether I appropriately made the minor grammatical corrections and that the co-authors of the paper agree to sign off on the final copy (a separate contractual document). “

The keyword here is “potentially”, which is an adverb and modifies the verb “is”. That statement has a very different meaning without the word potentially. It would be stated like so: “Your paper IS suitable…”.

I kind of like the utility of the word “potentially”.

It gives me the tools to write really provocative sentences, for example:

  • “This work is potentially groundbreaking.”
  • “I have a potentially fantastic chance of winning the noble prize.”

And, so on…

This blog post has potentially ended….


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