Verbed! Not every noun wants to stay that way

Here’s an interesting article by Erin McKean from The Boston Globe.

What do these words and phrases have in common? Friend, Google, TiVo, log in, contact, barbecue, unlike, concept, text, Photoshop, leverage, party, Xerox, reference, architect, parent, improv, transition, diligence, host, chair, gift, heart, impact?

They’ve all been declared-by someone, somewhere, whether a usage expert or just a self-appointed language cop-“not verbs.” It doesn’t matter whether they’re useful, interesting, or entertaining as verbs; to many people, if a word began its life as a noun, then “verbing” it (like I did there) is just wrong.

This visceral reaction is the motivating force behind the recently popular loginisnotaverb.com, one man’s impassioned plea against this kind of verbing. The site’s elaborate (and funny) arguments against login’s verb status really boil down to a simple denial. ”I will repeat the important part for clarity: ‘login’ is not a verb. It’s simply not,” he writes.

The history of English, however, suggests that the language is remarkably flexible in terms of what can be verbed. Almost any word can be drafted to serve as a verb, even words we think of as eternal and unchanging, stuck in their more traditional roles. It’s easy to think of scenarios where ”She me’d him too much and they broke up” and “My boss tomorrowed the meeting again” make sense.

Read the rest here.

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