It’s only a word

We landscape architects have a new word — susceptibility; in the new edition of the Landscape Institute’s Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment this is defined as ‘The ability of a defined landscape or visual receptor to accommodate the specific proposed development without undue negative consequences.’ In the past, in our practice, we have used ‘capacity’ for this then changed to ‘sensitivity’ after the issue of the draft guidelines. Now sensitivity is defined as ‘A term applied to specific receptors, combining judgements of the receptor to the specific type of change or development proposed and the value related to that receptor.’ I wonder how much time was spent on drafting those two definitions. More later when we have fathomed it all out.


If you follow this blog regularly you will have gathered that language fascinates me and particularly the words, or is it jargon, that applies to our work; keeping up is never-ending. We have a glossary on our website and have recently added or revised BIM, ecosystems services, green infrastructure, Wholesale NFL Jerseys heritage impact assessment, landscape urbanism, photomontage, three dimensional models, verified view montages and visually verified montages (VVM).

BIM, ecosystems services, green infrastructure, heritage impact assessment, landscape urbanism, photomontage, three dimensional models, verified view montages and visually verified montages, susceptibility, sensitivity, capacity, assessment, scoping opinion, environment

I do remember the arrival of ‘environment’ in the late 1960s to mean all things green. In 1967 Laurence Halprin, the eminent US landscape architect, described himself as ‘an environmental designer’ but I am not sure he would do so now. I recently asked a young barrister specialising in planning and environmental law what her job entailed. Planning is what you would expect — public inquires, enforcement notices and policy interpretation but environmental law is about nuisance, contamination and pollution. I might not be describing myself an environmentalist in the future.


The phrase that made me shudder when it was introduced was ‘scoping opinion’ — what an abuse of the English language and the human ear. Dr Johnson considered that the English language is like a weedy garden and words that are misused should be removed. Oh that I had that power. I looked up scope in Johnson’s dictionary which was published in 1755; he defined scope as aim or intent. I may not like it but I had to eat my words and admit that perhaps the meaning was not so far off.

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