April 5, 2013

"I don’t shudder when I see or hear 'This year’s spend is excessive' and 'Her book was a good read'..."

"... even though I can think of other, perhaps more elegant ways of saying these things. On the other hand, 'There is no undo for that' strikes me as infelicitous, and I am still not completely comfortable with the use of the noun 'disconnect' as a synonym for 'disparity' or 'discrepancy' — although it has been around since the 1980s."

Are you the sort of person who frets about the evolution of language, like this problem of verbs clamoring to become nouns?

I don't want to push you past your comfort zone, but... have you heard about gay marry?

28 comments:

m stone said...

I fret, but, nevertheless, I fight valiantly to be crisp in my use of language. Ann is an encouragement.

Writing a few books is great discipline. I've discovered that using a phrase or construction in Book 4 sometimes sends me scurrying back to Book 1 or 2, dare I repeat myself.

The Gatsby Project was great fun.

Anyone read Hitchings's books?

Bob_R said...

Actually I think that the noun "undo" is a good one. It conveys a lot of nuance about the behavior of the standard undo command in so many types of software. An "undo" is a single operation that takes one back to a previous state and makes it as if some unwanted action never happened. That's a pretty good days work for four letters.

John Burgess said...

I haven't heard 'the gay marry', but the meaning is clear enough. At most, it's infelicitous.

But being discomfited by the verbing of nouns? It's trending inevitable. I'll have to text or Tweet about it while rollerblade down the street.

edutcher said...

It just screams laziness.

tim maguire said...

We all have language nits to pick. "Literally" used for emphasis, for instance (because in context, it means "figuratively"--the opposite of what it actually means).

Mine mostly revolve around marketing jerks coarsening the language for their own gain. The one that bugs me most is "home" used for "house". The words have distinct meanings. Real estate agents don't sell homes, they sell houses. The people who buy them make them homes. This is especially annoying because it's been adopted by journalists, who should know better.

We are all a little poorer for these manipulations.

Erika said...

I am disappoint.

Peter said...

'Biztalk' "The spend has decreased." has been impenetrable and aggravating forever.

But, 'most everyone knows that any noun can be verbed.

AJ Lynch said...

Impacted & impactful bug me.

Marc Lowenstein said...

verbing weirds nouns

Marc Lowenstein said...
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Fred Drinkwater said...

Peter: Not "forever. Sheesh. You MEANT to say "going forward".
Off the top of my head, my favorite modern misused lingo things to annoy my wife and friends about:

Quantum
Factoid
Hone in on
Virtual
Infrastructure
(Oh, and that reminds me: "Virtual Infrastructure")
Time Frame (except in Minkowski space)
Out Years
Tranche (Except in finance)
Sexy, Sexed-up (except in the bedroom or other appropriate locations :-)

Yes, I'm fun at parties, why do you ask?

Mumpsimus said...

Why use a fancy word like "nominalization" when you can just call it "verbing nouns?"

Paco Wové said...

"The Gatsby Project was great fun."

Is it over? Funny, I remember the book as being somewhat longer.

Paddy O said...

A noun is just a lazy verb.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Marc Lowenstein, I wonder very much whether you are the Marc Lowenstein I knew at Cal. I'd wager that you are.

The most obvious example of the nouning of verbs at the moment is, of course, "sequester." Why, oh, why is it not "sequestration"? Is it just a question of air time?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

tim maguire,

Comedic writers who can presume an audience with some literacy have fun with that. (From Yes, Prime Minister: "I was literally torn." "Steam was literally coming out of his ears." Usw.)

Just saying said...

You appear to be very tolerant of butchered English. Are you that tolerant of poor English when grading your students?

Ignorance is Bliss said...
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Ignorance is Bliss said...

The term gay marriage is already a bastardization of the language anyway. Gay marry is no worse.

wyo sis said...

If it's funny or quirky I might verb a noun occasionally, but I never, never literal a figurative.

Clyde said...

I absolutely hate it when some newsie says, "We are efforting to find out more about it." Trying (not efforting!) my patience is more like it.

Richard Dolan said...

Every language evolves. But that doesn't mean you have to accept ugly turns of phrase or put up with crappy writing.

Sam L. said...

Gay Mary? Yeah, we've met!

Leit Bart said...

"The men were gay and happy as they gaily married." Hmph. Until now, I never thought about words full-circling.

Nomennovum said...
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Nomennovum said...

Speaking evolutionizes. Newspeak is establishmentized by the elite and accedenced by the people. Thus are voters anesthetized.

Indo-European --> ancient German.

Ancient German --> Anglo-Saxon

Anglo-Saxon --> Middle English

Middle English --> Modern English

Modern English --> Full Retard

Hagar said...

Not to mention "Norway shooter," "China leader," etc.

gbarto said...

The phrase "gay marry" implies that the word "gay" is needed to clarify or specify something about the marriage in question. If you feel the need to say "gay marry" it implies that you think either you or your interlocutor needs to be sure the other person doesn't assume you're talking about a man and a woman.

If you believe that SSM is about altering an institution so that it will be the same for gays as it is for straights, the phrase "gay marry" should be offensive to your ears.