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I am reading Limited Liability Companies for Dummies by Jennifer Reuting, and the use of 'impaired' sounds strange to me in this context:

I know, I know — you’re busy! You operate on a need-to-know basis, and the rest is just gibberish. Therefore, to speed things up a little, feel free to ignore anything with a Technical Stuff icon next to it. The information in those paragraphs isn’t really necessary to understand the topic. Also, the sidebars are fun, but they’re sort of a bonus for those who aren’t time-impaired. Feel free to skip those, too.

One similar example to call out is 'speech-impaired' which means communication disorder, and other phrases fitting this form include 'memory impaired', 'motor activity impaired', and 'hearing impaired'. However, 'time-impaired', by which the author implies that time is tight, seems a little unintuitive to me. Does 'time-impaired' sound idiomatic to you?

Does there exist a more appropriate word than 'impaired' in this phrase?

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    [I was stuck by.at the term x. OR I was struck by it.]
    – Lambie
    Mar 7 at 15:41
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    (Or "stuck on [a confusing thing]." The only use for "stuck by" is a colloquial regional usage, esp in the American South, for being pricked or poked, as in "I got stuck by that patch of stickers [thorns] out back!") Mar 7 at 15:47
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    We can get stuck by something sharp and pointy here in Philadelphia. Why's your thigh bleeding? -- I got stuck by a sharp feather when I sat down on this supposedly "down-filled" love-seat.
    – TimR
    Mar 8 at 13:39
  • @TimR Thanks for the correction. Is 'the use sounds strange to me' correct? Mar 14 at 3:48
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    Yes, "sounds strange to me" is idiomatic.
    – TimR
    Mar 14 at 17:31

1 Answer 1

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You see this sort of usage a lot: jokingly adopting a construction that is usually used seriously in medical or therapeutic contexts as a tongue-in-cheek way of expressing personal abilities, limitations, or challenges. You often hear "-challenged" as well, like "I haven't used my gym membership for months; I'm exercise-challenged."

Depending on the tone and context, it could be seen as harmless (as this example seems to me), or as mocking such serious uses. It probably grew out of the same environment that mocked "political correctness" in the late 80s through the 90s (as similar circles do with "woke" language today). This movement took language uses that were intended to reduce offense or to be sensitive (like "speech impaired" rather than "mute"), or to add respect to people or classes that are not usually socially elevated (like "Sanitation Engineer" instead of "janitor"). A backlash movement either objected to such initiatives themselves, or found the proposed language laughable, and enjoyed using it mockingly in other contexts ("I spend all my time driving my kids around, so my title should be Director of Mass Transportation!" "I got a bad grade on my math test. But I'm not dumb, I'm Arithmetically Challenged!").

This pattern of usage has spread out and diluted so much that you see this kind of pattern even in examples like this one where no direct mockery is intended.

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  • There are a few examples of the phrase, generally slightly jocular as mentioned: I found a 1999 IEEE article "Digital video for the time impaired" which is written in an informal style. And there's a 2007 book on Amazon called "Scrapbooking for the Time Impaired" by Kerry Arquette and Andrea Zocchi (Lark Books) which is similarly not a context where you expect very formal prose.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 7 at 14:56
  • @StuartF And of course there's an actual concept of a psychological challenge related to the perception of time, time blindness, perhaps newer than most of these examples. These and the example in the question of course aren't thinking of this, but simply mean "short on time." Mar 7 at 15:02
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    I've seen 'time poor' quite a bit recently. Mar 7 at 15:10
  • This answer is essentially a good explanation. One can be time-impaired or just about anything -impaired if it works.
    – Lambie
    Mar 7 at 15:40
  • Great analysis. Often, the less idiomatic it is, the funnier. Mar 7 at 17:09

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