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World Association of International Studies

PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post "Verbing" Nouns
Created by John Eipper on 10/18/12 4:51 PM

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"Verbing" Nouns (John Heelan, UK, 10/18/12 4:51 pm)

When commenting Cameron Sawyer's post of 18 October, JE wrote: "I especially like how Esperanto can turn any noun into a verb or an adverb, so you have deliciously Esperantan constructions like 'I visit the mountains summerly' or 'The sky blues beautifully this morning.'"

Not surprising, as American English often does the same thing, e.g."We need to incentivise those folks to..."

So-called "verbing" is itself an example.

Other examples are:

When the smart guys started this business of securitizing things that didn't even exist in the first place, who was running the firms they worked for?
(quoted by Calvin Trillin in "Wall Street Smarts." The New York Times, October 13, 2009)

We talked about the project. We dialogued--passionately yet civilly--remembering our earlier discussions about the need for all of us to "practice active listening," "agree to disagree, . . . using 'I think' and 'I feel' statements," "solicit others' opinions," and "practice the Platinum Rule of treating others how they want to be treated." We dialogued and dialogued.
(Christine M. Cress et al., Learning Through Serving: A Student Guidebook for Service-Learning Across the Disciplines. Stylus Publishing, 2005)

It takes a certain kind of teacher to turn a teenage student who regularly truanted PE lessons into a county athlete in a matter of months.
(Liz Ford, "New Teachers and Old, Excelling All Round." The Guardian, July 3, 2007)

For sports lovers, you can try to get a bat or a golf club personally signatured by one of their favorite sportspersons, which is bound to be a real treat.
("Exotic Christmas Gift Ideas" at the website Christmas Gifts Guide, 2009)

An amateur baseball powerhouse, Cuba joined the tournament in 1939 and immediately beat Nicaragua for the title. Since then, it has won 25 titles in 37 tournaments, and has medaled 29 times.
(Benjamin Hoffman, "U.S. in Contention at 2009 Baseball World Cup." The New York Times, September 19, 2009)

See: http://grammar.about.com/od/grammarfaq/f/verbingfaq.htm

JE comments: My (least) favorite verbed noun is a perennial in faculty meetings: "to vision": "We'll be visioning on how to better organize the assessment process."



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  • "Verbing" Nouns (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 10/19/12 2:30 PM)
    A reflection on John Heelan's post of 18 October: "Truanted," "dialogued," "signatured"--these are barbarisms. "Truant" is a noun, not a verb, and you can't just pretend it's a verb. Likewise with "dialogue." "Signatured" is simply illiterate--there is a verb form of this word, it is "to sign."

    "Securitized" and "incentivized," on the other hand, are perfectly all right, in my opinion. "-ize", or something similar, turns a noun into a verb, in a clearly recognizable way, in all Indo-European languages I know--"-isieren" in German; "-izirovat'" in Russian (imperfective aspect).


    "Securitization" is a specific financial procedure, for which this is the correct technical term. To "incentivize" is to provide appropriate incentives--a normal part of the vocabulary of business, as far as I'm concerned.


    JE comments: I'd argue that you sign a document or a letter. If you're famous, however, you "signature" an object and suddenly it's worth money.


    I sort of agree with Cameron, and sort of don't. If we had scrupulously avoided barbarism over the ages, we'd still be speaking Latin. Or Sanskrit. Or perhaps in my neighborhood, Ojibwe.  And there'd be no WAIS.



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