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This is a piece of a conversation from the movie "The Batman"

Gordon: I go after him. Lean on him to give up the rat.

Batman: It’s too dangerous. They made a secret deal with this guy.

Who knows how many people it touches.

"Touch" Merriam Webster:

Definitions:

a: to relate to : CONCERN

b: to have an influence on : AFFECT

..also thefreedictionary.com list one of the synonyms for "touch" as "involve"

  1. affect, mark, involve, strike, get to (informal), influence, inspire, impress, get through to, have an effect on, make an impression on a guilt that in some way touches everyone

Does the sentence mean "who knows how many people it affects" or "Who knows how many people it involves"?

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2 Answers 2

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The sentence means "who knows how many people it affects".

Think of "touch" like this:

You drop a bomb on the ground. The explosion hits the person closest, then the next, then th next again and so on. The bomb "touches" people as it explodes.

"Involves" doesn't work here, as it could mean people are helping or participating in it.

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I would say “affect” is the best option here.

If you use “involve,” this suggests that the people are actively participating in it, or at least they are explicitly aware that they are a part of it.

Since the item mentioned affects an unknown number of people, this suggests that people could be completely unaware it is affecting them.

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